A virtual visit to the Fall Comdex in 1983

Dan Bricklin (of visicalc fame) took an enormous camcorder to the Fall Comdex exhibition in 1983 and has shared some footage. In this short clip you can see Bill Gates mentioning Xenix as their development platform, and a demo of Windows pre-1.0.

Three longer videos linked in the article:

(via these episode notes on Halt and Catch Fire)

(possibly via this retro-nostalgic HN discussion about the article The Incredible True Story Behind AMC’s Halt And Catch Fire – How Compaq Cloned IBM And Created An Empire)


The LISA-style GUI for the Apple IIe at 1:00 is interesting (I haven’t seen this before).
Does anyone know more about this?

Looks like a paint application to me - not necessarily related to an OS - and with an interface spookily similar to MSPaint. As a demo for a mouse, perhaps - one sells the other.

There was an Apple ][ GUI office suite toward the end that very much resembled the Mac (or perhaps more closely the IIgs?). It ran on quite a few floppies as I recall, and was Not Fast. We had a copy when my family had a //c, but never used it. We used AppleWorks instead, which had a word processor and spreadsheet that ran quite well on the //c.

If my memory is good, the office suite had a desktop and a file browser, but it really couldn’t do much of anything with it, as it really only had the few apps that it came with; it had a word processor of some sort (maybe more like a primitive desktop publisher?) and some other apps, but I’m not sure what. We had two disk drives (the internal plus one external 5.25") and I seem to remember that you still spent a lot of time swapping disks. It booted to one disk, then you’d have to swap another one in for whatever application you started (and save files to the second, probably?).

This is almost certainly the one I remember:

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@elb Have a look at the window title bar and the document widget at the left side of the title bar, this is totally LISA-style. Also, it’s a year before the Mac launch. It’s more like MacPaint without tear-down menus in LISA chrome and in color (that is, Apple II colors, still b&w). Since they are showing a two disks + printer arrangement and with regard to the fully fledged menu and window system, I wouldn’t be much surprised, if this would have been more than just a single application, much like a precursor to the Quark file launcher (Quark Catalyst).
(That said, if there had been just the single application and they were following the tools & documents paradigm of LISA, there wouldn’t have been much difference, apart from a bit of additional file management.)


@EdS Regarding MSPaint similarities, Susan Kare did the icons and Solitaire graphics for Win95, maybe she was involved in the MSPaint graphics, too?

There was and is an Apple 2 Desktop. It was originally I believe titled Mouse Paint and Mouse Desktop, then acquired by Apple Inc and re-branded. Here’s a link to an in-progress disassembly project: https://github.com/inexorabletash/a2d


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I think, this was MouseDesk. However, this and Quark Catalyst were modelled after the Mac, but this is Lisa-style and at least one year before this!

(Aside, MouseDesk was an interesting step in the development of the Apple Human Interface Guidelines, as they originated on the Apple II, then came to the Mac, from where they eventually came back to the Apple II for MouseDesk. More like a play of Ping-Pong between Aplle II and Mac teams.)

Edit: Having a look at the modification history of the HIG, there’s a “II Mouse” draft dated October 1983 (well before the Mac launch in the next year) – could this be related?

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So, I found a reference:
https://guidebookgallery.org/articles/apple2userinterfaces (see section “Apple II graphical user interfaces”)
It’s “MousePaint” (or “Mousepaint”, compare the screenshot below, right before Mac-style “intercaping”) and it was a standalone application.

MousePaint’s user interface was not as advanced – there were no keyboard shortcuts to menu commands, and the menu commands were rather confusing and difficult to understand at first (it took a while for users to understand what the command “Put a copy in…” actually meant – on the Macintosh, this would be the “Save As…” command). MousePaint was a stand-alone program – it did not support any other software and only relied on the ProDOS operating system for disk operations like opening and saving files. Also, MousePaint only knew how to print to an ImageWriter or to a Scribe printer – no other printers were supported.

If there is one comment to make about MousePaint, it’s that for a graphically intensive Apple II application, even on a 64K Apple IIe (which ran at 1 MHz), the user interface was surprisingly responsive. The mouse was remarkably smooth, and scrolling around the pixel canvas was seemingly effortless. Menus also appeared instantaneously, with no noticable drawing lag. Yet, MousePaint did not have many things to animate – only the menu bar was the most obviously “expensive” user interface component to manage.

(One of the two screenshots at guidebookgallery.org – Mind the menu font which resembles more the LISA system font than the Mac’s one mimicked in later Apple II Mouse GUIs.)