by Dene Grigar, Director, Electronic Literature Lab

What? An exhibition of Apple products from 1984-present in celebration of Macintosh’s 40th anniversary
Where? Washington State University Vancouver, second floor of the VMMC next to room 211A
Who? The Electronic Literature Lab
More info? Contact Dene Grigar,

On January 24, 1984 the Apple Corporation released the Macintosh 128K. Some of us may remember the famous Superbowl XVIII ad, directed by Ridley Scott, that aired two days earlier promising a better future for humankind via Apple’s ingenuity and uniqueness (that is, if we could afford to buy a Mac, or in my case, touch the one my friend Martin had bought). It was exciting to think that computing could be different than what the corporate IBM that dominated our office desks at the time offered. The Mac did feel more visceral and pleasing: the quirky whirring sound it would make when it booted up, the smiling Macintosh face (Re: the “Happy Mac” created by Susan Kare) that greeted us on the interface, and the drag and drop, point and click actions made possible by simply moving the cursor with our mouse. I had worked on an IBM since 1982, but I did not see a future for computer-based artistic expression until I experienced Martin’s Mac. Sure, the Apple II was (and still is a marvel––the Apple IIe in the lab is a workhorse), but let’s face it, it lacks the all-in-one elegance of the Macintosh 128 and is a heck of a lot heavier to tote around. 

The Apple Corporation suffered through the ups and downs many start-ups encounter, but with the eventual return of one of its two founders (Steve Jobs, for those of you not yet born or perhaps slept through the 1990s) it continued to innovate digital technologies that we now take for granted: phones, tablets, music listening devices, cameras, pencils, headphones, watches, and so much more. It was not that Apple invented these items but rather re-imagined them for us in a way that expanded their usefulness and resulted in their ubiquity. (I am typing this blog post via my MacBook Pro, btw, which sits between my iPad Air and vintage Mac Classic II and across from my iPhone and iMac desktop in my home office).

The Electronic Literature Lab is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Macintosh with an exhibition of Apple products beginning with another Macintosh released in 1984: the Macintosh 512K.

The featured items in the exhibition are but a few among the many computing devices, other forms of hardware, and software from my personal collection. Space constraints of the one glass cabinet I have access to forced me to cut items I really wanted to show (like my “Dalmatian” iMac G3 circa 2001 and my personal fave, the iMac G4 “Lampshade” that I bought in 2002 to make videos and animations during my post-doc).  

If you’ve been following my lab’s blog these past 13 years, you know that my Macs are not meant to be museum pieces but rather are put to work for the purpose of preserving born-digital literature, art, and games. There is a method to my madness that goes beyond the notion of being an Apple fan-girl, and that is to save the artifacts of human expression generated during this late age of print––and Macintosh computers have played a leading role, especially since 1984.

Here are the featured technologies. Come and see them!

[I need to wear my Apple Watch to monitor my exercise (Re: close my rings) and, so, do not want to add it to the exhibition, but know that it is Second Generation, Series 2, 2016. I should retake the photo, below, so that you can actually see it.]