July 2, 1987: The Canon Cat, the Original Mac Concept, is Released

by Chris Seibold Jul 02, 2011

When Jef Raskin started the Mac project he had high hopes for a low cost machine. When Steve Jobs came on board their vision clashed and Mr. Raskin left the project. While the Mac evolved in to a beast completely different from what Jef Raskin had in mind, Jef didn't let the dream of a low cost and easy to use machine die.

The culmination of that dream that began as the Macintosh was the Canon Cat. It eschewed the GUI interface and graphics and instead relied on "Leap" keys for navigation. The machine was an all in one featuring (like the Mac) a nine-inch bitmapped screen and a single floppy drive. Unlike the Mac, the Cat's IBM Selectric style keyboard was not detachable.

In retrospect, the Cat was truly a step above DOS but, when GUIs were seen as the next big thing, the machine seemed a step back to many. Various reasons are given for the Cat's failure (only 20,000 were sold) from poor marketing to a conspiracy masterminded by Steve Jobs. The most likely culprit is that the machine that could have been the Mac just came out too late in the game. The Canon Cat was introduced this week in 1987.


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