Going for the World Market
Having learned from past experience, Apple designed the Macintosh so
that it could easily be modified for all markets outside the United
States. The following examples show how pervasive nation- or language-specific
aspects of a computer design are and how Apple has minimized the changes needed.
- Except for the word “Apple” on the front panel, the Macintosh has
no English labels anywhere on the product or in the ROM. Each plug is
labeled with a picture that identifies its function.
- The video-display rate of 60.15 Hz is generated internally instead of
being derived from the line current. This allows the Mac to be used
without modification in countries that have 50 Hz line current.
- Macintosh software has been designed so that all text messages,
message layouts, and icons can be stored in a resource file,
separate from the program itself. A designer can use a resource-editor
program to change text (for example, to another language), icons, message
layout, and the formats of time, dates, numbers, and currency. With
this method, the program itself does not have to be changed and recompiled
to make these changes.
- The keys on the keyboard are defined by the software, thus allowing
Apple to change the keyboard easily to accommodate the special characters needed
by some languages. In addition, Apple has designed the Mac so that two
keyboards (differing in only one key) can be used for all versions of the
product; Apple customizes a keyboard for a given language by printing the
necessary legends into the plastic keys. In addition, any Mac keyboard can produce
the full Macintosh character set; the only advantage to having the keyboard
for a certain language is that the keyboard layout will be more appropriate for
With these innovations, the most time-consuming part of modifying the Macintosh
for another country is translating and printing the documentation. Apple reports
that it will be shipping the Macintosh to several foreign countries “within
several months of the Mac’s introduction.” (Companies never seem to
meet such deadlines, so expect foreign versions to be shipped before the end of 1984.)