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.
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.