(Updated January 18 and January 20 with more About boxes)
These past three weeks or so, as you know, I’ve been doing a thorough check-up of my vintage Macs. Now that my Macintosh SE/30 has a working hard drive, I wanted to search my archives for some useful applications and utilities to put on it. My usual approach for my vintage Macs is to equip them with a base set of application software like this:
- At least a word processor (either WriteNow or Word 5.1, mostly depending on the Mac’s age) and a text editor, such as BBEdit.
- At least one application to do some image editing. Usually it’s an old version of Graphic Converter.
- Often I install some old version of ClarisWorks and HyperCard, mostly because I still need to access old projects and stacks.
- Diagnostic utilities: Norton Utilities, TechTool Pro.
- Disk utilities such as FWB Hard Disk Toolkit.
- ResEdit. Always useful.
- The StuffIt suite of products, to handle compressed archives.
- SCSI Probe, which is a great, lightweight control panel capable of scanning/resetting the SCSI chain and mount SCSI peripherals that don’t mount on the Desktop automatically for some reason.
- Some vintage games, why not.
So the other day I was going through some old CD-ROMs and backups, and found an unmarked CD-ROM I had absolutely no idea as to its contents. Even after inserting it in the PowerBook 1400’s optical drive, and double-clicking on its icon, what was displayed was completely unassuming: a .sit archive called Mac OS 7.5.3 and a disk image simply called disk1.dsk. At first I dismissed this and just thought it was a backup of the installation disk(s) for System 7.5.3. When I finally mounted that disk image with DiskCopy, though, I found a little gold mine of vintage applications and games.
I started going through them one by one (the applications, at least; the games are more than 200!), and invoking their About boxes to find out exactly which version they were. I found some very old versions of popular applications and — equally interesting — there were also not-so-old versions of popular applications but in French and even German. I thought this exploration was worth capturing, so I took a few screenshots. Here’s a selection of the most interesting findings. Enjoy.
Aldus PageMaker, version 2.0a
Adobe Illustrator 1.1 — The application only weighed 240KB.
Adobe Photoshop 1.0.7 — This screenshot was taken on my PowerBook 1400 running Mac OS 8.1, as you can see by the Platinum theme of the buttons. Just to give you an idea, on the Mac SE/30 this About box takes up almost the entire screen.
Claris Organizer 1.0 in French.
ClarisDraw 1.0Fv1. The ‘F’ stands for ‘French’ of course.
ClarisWorks 1.0Fv3. Again, this is the French version.
ClarisWorks 3.0Dv1. Here the ‘D’ stands for ‘Deutsch’: this is the German version of ClarisWorks 3.0.
Claris HyperCard Player version 2.1 — Not really a rare version, but I love the clipart!
Image Studio, distributed by Letraset, version 0.6! — When I launched this software on my PowerBook 1400, it warned me that it only supports 256 levels of grey.
Claris MacDraw Pro 1.0Fv1. Again, in French.
Microsoft Basic, version 2.00. This one is pretty old.
This is a screenshot of version 2.0 of “Les Norton Utilities pour le Macintosh.”
RagTime 3.2, French version.
This is probably the most amazing find: a pre-release version 0.8 of the popular ResEdit utility.
SuperPaint 2.0a – French version. — The text in the black box animates and starts showing authors and credits.
WordPerfect Works 1.2 — This is a software suite not unlike the more popular ClarisWorks. Though I own old copies of WordPerfect the word processor, I admit I didn’t remember there had also been an entire software suite.
WordPerfect Works apparently has two About boxes. This one shows up after dismissing the previous one.
WriteNow 3.0 in French.
PowerPoint 1.0! — Originally it was called ‘Presenter’, then the name was changed to PowerPoint, and in 1987 Forethought was bought by Microsoft for several million dollars.
And this is Microsoft Excel 2.2a — in French.
StuffIt 1.0. If you’re a long-time Mac user, you surely have StuffIt Deluxe (or maybe just the Expander) on your Macs.
Think C version 5.00
I’m still digging through the archives, so perhaps there will be a follow-up to this post. Stay tuned.
Update: more About boxes
I’ve managed to unearth some other interesting vintage Mac applications and their About boxes. Some of them were extracted from the application resources thanks to ResEdit, since I wasn’t able to open them either on the PowerBook 1400 or the PowerBook 5300 — they threw various errors and/or forced me to restart the Mac.
Anyway, here we go with a second batch of About boxes!
Claris MacProject II, version 2.1Fv2 (French)
MacPascal 7.300 — Note the date: one day before the official introduction of the Macintosh.
Eudora Light, version 3.11 in French
This is what you get when you invoke the About box in Photoshop 1.0 while holding the Option key.
Microsoft Word 3.01e (French version)
Microsoft Word 3.01e (French version): this dialog box shows up when you first launch Word.
Wintype 1.7 (French) — I don’t know much about the history of this software. It’s an application for learning to type.
RagTime 3.2 (French version) — This is what you get when you invoke the About box while holding the Option key: the developers’ signatures.
This is another About box in ResEdit 0.8.
Macintosh Basics, version 5.0.3. Not an About box, strictly speaking, but I thought it was cool to add this to the mix.
Eudora 1.3.1, “Bringing the P.O. to where you live.”
Ambrosia Software’s Snapz 1.0.0, just one of the many fine Mac applications they’ve created over the years.
Samba, a.k.a. MacWWW, version 1.0.3
The Print Shop 1.3 — When you invoke the About box, the icon on the top left keeps animating.
Claris CAD 2.0 (Italian version)
JAG 1.0 — Jaggies are gone!
Lotus 1-2-3 for the Macintosh, version 1.00 (Italian)
Microsoft Works 2.0
Caere OmniPage 2.1
Adobe Premiere 1.0 — Look who wrote it…
Adobe Streamline 2.0
Adobe Dimensions 1.0, in colour and black & white.
Dimensions Presenter, version 0.09a.
More 3.1 — This is for Dave Winer… I found it, Dave!
Satellite 3D, version 1.5.3.
SoundEdit 2.0.5. — The About box for SoundEdit is a really nice animation. It starts with a random colour pattern, simulating a crash, then the first picture above appears, making you think that the application crashed the system. But then, the bomb turns red and explodes, revealing the full About box in the picture below. I grabbed a screen recording (sorry for the quality).
And here’s SoundEdit Pro 1.0.
TypeStyler 2.0.1 — I used to have a lot of fun with this application. Now it’s at version 11.3.5!
SoftPC with Windows 3.0 — This is the first Windows emulator I encountered back then.
…And here’s a screenshot of Windows 3.1 emulated inside SoftPC.
Diamond 4.6, a rather obscure (to me) file compression software I found on the hard drive of my Macintosh LC II.
I knew I had an even older version of the Norton Utilities: this is the start screen of The Norton Utilities 1.1…
…and this is Norton Disk Doctor in action.
ShowSizes II by Jon Pugh — Another animated About box. (Thanks to Jon Pugh for sending me these screenshots.)
MacPaint 2.0 secret About box, invoked by choosing the About menu while holding the space and tab keys. (Thanks to Jon Pugh for sending me the screenshot and for the information.)
ClarisWorks version 2.1Ev3. — This is the Spanish version of ClarisWorks.
Claris FileMaker Pro 2.1 — Spanish version.
Macromedia Freehand 7.0.1, Spanish version. The names of the developers keep scrolling near the application icon on the top left (exactly where the figure is pointing.)
Pixel Paint 1.1 — This application refused to launch on any of my vintage Macs. Perhaps it really wants a Macintosh II and only a Macintosh II…
Pixel Paint 2.0.
Before iTunes there was SoundJam, by Casady&Greene. This is SoundJam MP Plus, version 2.5.3. It’s another animated About box — the credits keep rolling, movie-style. I captured them at the beginning, as to show the main developers.
Okay, that’s all for now. In the next days I’ll continue the journey in my software archives and see if I manage to dig up even more of these About boxes. This little gallery doesn’t want to be exhaustive — it’s more like opening a drawer full of things I used a lot back then and reminiscing. And by the way, I still use some of these programs on my vintage Macs, so it’s not just nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. Finally, it’s also a way to celebrate all those developers who shaped a fantastic era of Mac software.
Thank you everyone for the feedback!
55 thoughts on “A few About boxes from vintage Mac applications”
I can give you a run for your money.
I’ve got some software packages – mostly small-format hard-backed multi-ring binder manuals with 5.5″ floppy diskettes in plastic pockets on the inside – for my old Kaypro CP/M microcomputer.
Do you remember how WriteNow could send out stick figures to drag away each of the letters in the About box? That was the best. 🙂
Wow. What a blast from the past. I remember so many of those.
For some reason I just thought of the Font/DA Mover.
This is most impressive and has hurled my mind into an era of pixels thirty years back. More. More.
Very cool. Thanks for sharing!
You left off the best of all.. The ‘About’ box from Farallon’s SoundEdit with the exploding bomb.
You need to dig up the all time best… The ‘About’ box from Farallon’s SoundEdit with the sizzling then exploding bomb.
Here are two MORE about boxes from the 80s.
Thank you, Dave! Thanks for stopping by.
More will come, Luke, don’t worry!
Thank you everyone for the amazing feedback, here and over Twitter! There is definitely going to be a Part 2 of this post, with more About boxes to come, so stay tuned if you’re interested.
Jerry Ballard: Ah, it’s true. I have SoundEdit elsewhere… I’ll certainly add it to the list for Part 2 of this post. Thanks for reminding me!
Stacy: Vroom vroom!
Ben Lawson: I do! It does that in the French version as well. I’ll see if I can find some simple application that lets me record the animated About boxes for the next post!
Thanks. So any memories revived. Gotta go, starting to tear up…..
I loved PageMaker !
The design in the Photoshop box is pretty embarrassing, especially consider what the application is. For example, note the “Photoshop” line is so much closer to “Macintosh Version…” than it is to “Adobe”, which is part of the same title).
5.5″ floppies? I think you may need a new ruler.
I recognise pretty much all of them. Where’s ResEdit with the animated icon?
Norton Chia: The point of this post was to showcase a few old applications I found all in the same place — a disk image buried in a forgotten CD. I selected those that seemed most interesting or uncommon for some reason. ResEdit 2.1.3, with the animated icon in the About box, is certainly more well-known 🙂
I hope these might end up on Macintosh Garden…
What a great set of memories. It brought back a few to mind, Servant by Andy Herzfeld, Macromind’s VideoWorks and ComicWorks, Aldus Persuasion (still the most powerful presentation software out there – the ability to link audio clips to individual bullet point!) and the sexiest one of all, the first MacWrite II secret about box, which had the Olivia Zebra lady (which I seem to remember got someone fired for doing that). And the System 6 MultiFinder about box which referred to a certain Fred Burst, the only human whose name was a complete sentence.
What a blast. Thanks
Alan Goldberg: You’re welcome! I didn’t know about the secret about box in MacWrite II, and since I have the application in another archive, I’ll check it out and add it to the second wave of About boxes I’m preparing for a follow-up to this post. Thank you!
Fantastic set. I have lots of old disks from the first system disks for a 128K Mac, Switcher, HyperCard 1.0, etc. but no way to run them. Guess I should invest in a Mac so I can run ChipWits and get some screen shots. Might be a fun thing to do. Thanks for doing this.
The Think C about box isn’t properly represented here – it’s animated with a Star Wars leap-to-lightspeed animation of stars coming at you. I wonder if there’s a good way to make that into an animated GIF…
Remember the secret about boxes. I think it was my Power Mac 7200 (or something) that if you typed ‘secret about box’ in an editor, selected the text and dragged it to the desktop the screen would display the Apple HQ with a flag which could be made to fly away by using the wind controlled by the arrow keys – or something like that. Apple is boring now. 😦
Thanks for the nice trip down Memory Lane!
Great collection! I have some other obscure Mac apps if you want some more screen shots. HyperCard 1.2.5, SuperCard 3, Oracle Media Objects, probably a few more if I search.
BTW — any chance of you making a screen recording of the entire Macintosh Basics? I’ve been meaning to do that, but I only have the German version, and the Mac’s power supply just died and needs replacing before I can record it (and it won’t launch in SheepShaver).
Uli Kusterer: Thank you! If you have the opportunity of easily capturing such screenshots, feel free to send them to me via email (address is on top of the sidebar). As for recording the Macintosh Basics, I can certainly try. It could be an idea for a future post here on System Folder. 🙂
Was lot of fun googling the names of the authors of these programs to see where they are now.
Very cool trip down computer memory lane. I am still looking for digital images of the early MacPaint art by Susan Kare, from 1983. I know they must be out there somewhere!
Stumbled over this page looking for the ResEdit Jack-in-the-Box. Brings back memories from my start in the Apple world late 1992. Typing this today on my MacMini 2019 i5 🙂
Thanks for a tour down ‘memory lane’ 🙂
You are very welcome! Thanks for stopping by!
Studio Session from 1986 had an about box with animated note shaped musician characters that played back the loaded song by opening their mouths or air playing in sync.
ICOM simulations Déjà Vu 1 and 2, Uninvited and Shadowgate had awesome animations and music in the theme of the game and also featuring the makers of the games.
I played Déjà Vu 1 and 2, and Uninvited back in the day, and you’re right, both animations and music were great. I played them on the Commodore 64 and I remember being quite impressed by their quality considering the hardware’s limitations!
these are surprisingly moving. artifacts of another lifetime. thank you.
And thank you for stopping by, Steven!
I wish I could contribute a MacWrite about box, but I don’t have a screenshot.
One of the best secret about boxes had a reptile on a flag… https://youtu.be/ZYcAsOG2jaI
is possible create program for old mac using normal open source C compiler from 2021?
gnu c, llvm clang etc?
I always enjoyed the Monty Python foot in Disinfectant