Co.Design

A Reboot Of The Original MacPaint

Now you can travel nearly 30 years back in time and create with MacPaint. It's a reminder of how much the Mac team did with so little.

Unless you’ve booted up your original Macintosh 128K recently—you know, that one with all the Mac team’s signatures inside that would have been a serious collector’s item had you kept it—you probably haven’t thought about bitmap creator MacPaint in a very long time (or at all). But thanks to Martin Braun, you can travel nearly 30 years back in time and try it right now, for free, in your browser.

His creation, CloudPaint, is a fairly literal re-enactment of the MacPaint 1.0 interface—created by original Macintosh team members Bill Atkinson and Susan Kare—at least as well as I can remember it. From the quirky spray paint tool (skeuomorphism at its finest) to the option of scribbling textures in lieu of colors (an inspired sidestep to the Mac’s monochrome monitor), it is all there to experience again through our 21st-century eyes—eyes accustomed to millions of colors and invisible pixels rather than a few artfully arranged black and white blocks.

And in this sense, emulator work like Braun’s is important. Just as we can read old classics in literature, or study the original masters of painting, so too should our interface designers of tomorrow become familiar with the watershed designs of our digital world. Because three decades later, it’s still astounding how much the Mac team did with so little. And MacPaint is still a decent way to burn away an afternoon you should have spent working.

Try it here.

[Hat tip: Prosthetic Knowledge]

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7 Comments

  • Larry Harris

    Yep, I just booted up an original 128k Macintosh (at least functionally so, due to flyback transformer old age and significant usage had to replace analog components with newer replacements while keeping the digital board original except for power generation capacitors) and it decided it might just work right. I plan on keeping it until I am dead because all of it's descendants aren't up to it's impossibly high standards, skeuomorphism and all.

    Not even the Plus really compares, and it comes the closest of the compacts. I do love HyperCard though, it's awesome, a software 128k if you will.

  • I love MacPaint UI design and all the Susan Kare works for Apple. This is my Personal Tribute to the original MacPaint tools and its creators Bill Atkinson (code) and the brilliant Susan Kare (artwork). You can check an HTML5 MacPaint version in: http://franfun.com/mac-paint/

    Loving #retrocomputing !!

  • Todd Earley

    The wonderful thing about the old MacPaint is that it draws from actual paste-up and layout practices, tools and materials. In the illustration above, along the bottom of the screen where you can choose "textures" -- back in the day, these were know as Zipatone (brand name) rub down screens and textures. Those of us who learned to do layout on a drawing board with a t-square, copy camera and Typositor will recall. If one wanted a texture applied to an area of a design, one would simply cut the shape out of the rub down sheet and skillfully apply it over the photomechanical transfer (PMT) that was waxed to a thick piece of illustration board.