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.