Fast Company has a good piece on how the Macintosh "Changed Creativity Forever".
After the Macintosh, computers were opened up to group of people--among them writers, artists, musicians and designers--who had previously had no use for them.
Although graphical user interfaces and the mouse existed prior, Apple's key innovation was packaging up this technology into a cohesive user friendly package that was brimming with potential as a tool.
As quoted in the article, writer Douglas Adams observed that the potential was perhaps what mattered most at the time: “What I (and I think everyone who bought [the Macintosh] in the early days) fell in love with was not the machine itself, which was ridiculously slow and underpowered, but a romantic idea of the machine.”
After MacPaint, Bill Atkinson created HyperCard. It was a radical idea – shaped by Apple's values of user friendliness and empowerment – giving people tools to build software without needing to program.
Jer Thorp wrote a nice piece on it:
HyperCard represented perhaps the bravest part of this ‘computing for the people’ philosophy, as it enabled users to go past the pre-built software that came on the machines, and to program and build software of their own.
Today Apple still cares deeply – and with perhaps a more profound understanding than any other consumer technology company – about 'computing for the people'. And the Mac is still the computer of choice for creators. But as they've made leaps in building easy-to-use devices for more and more people, they're arguably shifting away from creativity, and perhaps expressing a different set of underlying values.
I'll be examining this much more in posts to come.
Here's a great episode of Computer Chronicles on HyperCard, featuring a demo from Atkinson himself.