Mac Christmas history
After the release of the first Macintosh in 1984, it didn’t take long for a rich culture to sprout up around Apple’s distinctive machine. The Mac’s unique capabilities inspired a loyalty and passion that pushed the Macintosh Way into every aspect of life, including the traditionally non-digital holiday season.
To celebrate that season, let’s take a look back at some early Christmas-themed Macintosh art and ephemera. Along the way, you’ll also see a few modern holiday homages to this classic platform—now almost 29 years old—and witness a can-do computer which refused to sit out even the most sacred of Western traditions.
Our baby, the Mac
In 1984, Tom Arneberg and his wife Beth loved their new Macintosh so much that Tom included the machine in his family’s Christmas card that year. In a brilliant parody of a holiday family photo, Beth Arneberg cradles a Mac wrapped in a blanket as Tom looks on proudly, mouse in hand.
Arneberg briefly wrote about the card in a Steve Jobs tribute column for the Chippewa Herald shortly after the Apple co-founder’s death last year.
[Photo: Tom Arneberg]
MacTidings Clip Art Sampler
During the dawn of desktop publishing in the 1980s, digital clip art was a big deal. One could simply load up an image, “clip” it out in MacPaint or another program, and paste it directly into your Monthly Knitting Club newsletter.
A company in San Francisco created this particular Christmas-themed clip art sampler, called MacTidings, and distributed it freely through BBSes in the hopes that someone would buy a full set.
[Images: Logic Logic]
In 2010, journalist Sheigh Crabtree and a dedicated team of amateur confectioners crafted this actual-size rendition of a compact Macintosh out of gingerbread as part of an office competition. It featured a candy glass monitor that lit up inside thanks to a solar lamp, a hand-stenciled caramel keyboard, and four molded chocolate floppy disks that fit perfectly into the slot on the front of the edible machine. Delicious.
[Photo: Sheigh Crabtree]
Broderbund Print Shop clip art
One of the most popular non-game applications of the early home computer revolution was The Print Shop, a program which allowed users with no illustration experience to insert pre-made clip art into custom banners, signs, calendars, and newsletters.
Here we see a selection of Christmas-themed clip art from the Macintosh version of The Print Shop. Notice that the art uses only black and white—and nothing in between—because those were the only two colors the first Macs could support.
The Macintosh platform went color with the release of the Macintosh II in 1987, and shortly after, colorful Christmas artwork began showing up for Apple’s new system. These lovingly crafted images (originally in PICT format) debuted as part of a 1992 commercial “holidays” clip art gallery for the Macintosh.
[Images: Creative Pursuits]
1986 Mini-Mac holiday ornament
Only two years after the debut of the Macintosh, clever Apple fans were already finding ways to craft miniature totems of the distinctive machine to hang on their Christmas trees. This early compact Mac ornament, created by Janis Chevalier, originated on the early online service CompuServe in 1986.
[Image: Janis Chevalier]
Modern Happy Mac ornament
Fast forward 20 years later, and people are still making compact Mac papercraft ornaments. Japanese Mac fan Kenji Eno created this papercraft Mac model in 2005 and provided a print-out template on his website.
Eno’s creation is not specifically an ornament, though. It took Nebraska resident Chris De Jabet, who snapped this photo, to pull a string through it and hang it on a Christmas tree.
[Photo: Chris De Jabet]
Wendy Carlos' Mac Christmas card
Electronic music pioneer Wendy Carlos designed this black and white Christmas card on her original Macintosh using MacPaint for the 1985 holiday season. It features her beloved pets curled up beneath a Christmas tree.
Twenty-seven years later, Carlos is still a fan of the Macintosh, and the platform shows no sign of stopping as a source of inspirational holiday art.
[Image: Wendy Carlos]