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14 fascinating pieces of Apple Macintosh trivia

As you may have noticed at the end of last week, the Apple Macintosh celebrated its 30th anniversary. Over the course of its lifespan, the Mac has garnered itself a fairly intricate set of folklore and bits of trivia, some of which are more well-known than others. Here are some things you may not have heard about Cupertino's most famous computer platform:

1. The reason for the name Lisa

The extremely expensive Apple Lisa, which predated the Mac, was named after Steve Jobs' daughter Lisa. The $10,000 (£6,000) computer, on the other hand, featured advanced pre-emptive multitasking – which wasn't seen on the Mac until OS X in 2000 – and dual built-in floppy disk drives. Ford named the disastrous Edsel after his son, and Enzo Ferrari did the same with the ill-fated Dino; maybe it's just not a good idea to name products after your offspring.

2. Ridley Scott directed the “1984” commercial

You've seen the Orwellian commercial introducing the Macintosh by now (if not, check it out), but you may not know that Ridley Scott directed it. By this point, he had already directed Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), so his sci-fi cred was through the roof.

3. Every original Mac is autographed

Inside the beige plastic enclosure of every 128K Macintosh – the first model sold – were engraved signatures from everyone on the Apple Mac team, including Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

4. 128KB isn't enough for anybody

Steve Jobs wanted the first 16-bit, 68000-based Mac to have just 128KB RAM, which was stingy even in 1984, when 8-bit home computers from Atari and Commodore already had 48KB and 64KB RAM. It kept the lines of the enclosure smaller, but it ended up being a big limitation; the next "Fat Mac" featured 512KB of RAM.

5. The Mac couldn't multitask until 1987

Despite the Mac's windowed interface, System 5 was the first version of the Macintosh operating system that actually let you run several programs simultaneously (via cooperative multitasking). It was quickly superseded in 1988 by System 6 (pictured below), a more capable version that lasted for several years and came with all Macintosh models worldwide.

6. The NeXT best thing

After Apple kicked out Steve Jobs in 1985, he went and formed NeXT, which made and sold highly advanced, very expensive computers starting in 1988. Apple later bought NeXT in 1996 and put Steve Jobs back in charge a year later; the guts of the NeXTSTEP OS, including its Mach kernel and BSD Unix code, eventually became Mac OS X.

7. Apple's first portable was a disaster

Apple introduced its first portable Mac in 1989; it predated the PowerBook by two years. It was a flop – it featured a sharp active-matrix LCD display and a powerful 16MHz 68000 processor, but it weighed a gut-busting 7.25kg and cost $6,500 (£3,600).

8. People used to love trackballs

Apple tried again two years later with the much slimmer and lighter PowerBook, which was a runaway success. The line-up consisted of three models: The PowerBook 100, the PowerBook 140, and the PowerBook 170. All three featured oversized trackballs for mouse navigation, and a prominent wrist wrest area with the keyboard pushed back; Windows-based competitors quickly copied the design.

9. People used to dock laptops

Apple's PowerBook Duo 210 (pictured right) was an early convertible machine designed to be used with a desktop dock. Introduced in 1992, it lacked some significant ports and didn't have an internal floppy disk drive, and the Duo 210 was greyscale only. But it weighed just 1.9kg undocked, which made it as portable as today's MacBook Pros and Ultrabooks.

10. Billions and billions of Macs

The Power Mac 7100, released in 1994, was originally codenamed Carl Sagan, thanks to its potential for "billions and billions" in profit. Carl Sagan didn't like this, and sued Apple when he found out, but he lost. Meanwhile, Apple changed the codename to BHA, for "Butthead Astronomer." Apple ended up releasing the model without Sagan's name attached, and the brouhaha was quickly forgotten.

11. The first ever laptop trackpad

The PowerBook 500, introduced in 1994, was the first laptop ever made with a trackpad. By the late 1990s, almost the entire laptop market had switched to trackpads, with IBM ThinkPads and some HP workstation machines the sole holdouts with pencil-nub pointers.

12. Wireless is only 15 years old

All of the aforementioned laptops lacked wireless connectivity. The first to include it was the colourful iBook in 1999, in the form of an optional AirPort card. Today, a laptop without wireless would seem broken. Early iBooks looked like giant makeup compacts – or toilet seats, depending on your viewpoint. They're not to be confused with iBooks, today's iOS app that lets you read eBooks on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

13. Cubism isn't just for artists

In 2000, Apple released what is arguably the most famous failed Mac, the G4 Cube. It's beautiful enough that the Smithsonian has one, but it also became famous for hairline cracks that appeared in the clear plastic moulded casing over time. It cost a whopping $1,799 (£1,090) without a monitor.

14. The first final OS X version was named "Cheetah"

OS X 10.0 appeared at retail in March 2001, almost two years after the server-based version of OS X appeared, and a year after the public beta. It was a ground-up rewrite and a completely new operating system; the cat naming scheme continued for eight successive versions until the most recent release, Mavericks.