Macintosh 128K “Twiggy Mac”

At A Glance

The first Mac (Macintosh 128k) computer was originally planned to be released with a Twiggy floppy disk drive, similar to the one used in the Apple Lisa 1 computer, which was announced in January 1983. Steve Jobs’ vision was to maximize the amount of his own company’s intellectual property in the new machine, and he was adamant right to the end that the Macintosh should use Steve Wozniak’s design of a floppy drive, rather than one from a third party. High error rates with the Twiggy disk drive though forced Apple to switch over to the 400k Sony 3.5″ disk drive in the last two or three months before the Macintosh’s scheduled release on January 24th 1984.

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More background

To date, only bits and pieces of the original “Twiggy Drive” Macintosh have ever surfaced… a motherboard here, a plastic case there, but never complete machines. There are only two known to be in existence. Steve Jobs pointedly tried to destroy all the prototypes. Seven or eight were known to have possibly survived despite his efforts in those early days, but now, thirty years later, it is very likely only two remain.

The computers and keyboards are authentic and original, dated 1982-83. The computers and their keyboards were acquired together and complete, and have not been pieced together from miscellaneous parts.

In the early 1980’s, before Apple contracted out the manufacturing of their hardware into Asia, Apple had a corporate division and a factory that built their mass-storage devices. They had developed a proprietary disk drive, code-named “Twiggy”, that could read & write onto a 5-1⁄4″ floppy disk with dual & opposing read/write heads.

By the time the Lisa was ready to ship in the summer of 1983 however, it was clear that the Twiggy was buggy.

Because the Lisa also came with a 5 MB Hard Disk drive, this was not a complete disaster. But the Mac had no hard disk drive, so it faced a crisis.

“The Macintosh team was beginning to panic,” said Andy Hertzfeld. “We were using a single Twiggy drive, and we didn’t have a hard disk drive to fall back on.”

(Courtesy of Gabreal Frankin)

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