The original Macintosh famously shipped with a sharp (at the time) 72 dpi (Dots Per Inch) black and white display.
Every Mac with a built-in display was the same, and being the first consumer computer with a mouse, it quickly became very easy to move the mouse to a specific button or menu, because the target was always in the same place.
Later in the Macintosh’s life, external monitors were introduced and many had the same 72 dpi resolution. This helped reinforce the muscle memory of using a Macintosh with a mouse, making some actions second nature.
I helped run the special interest group of the Los Angeles Macintosh Group with my good friend Chuck Holland (RIP). At one meeting we were excited to be showing a SuperMac video card and monitor with a Mac IIfx.
I do not recall who supplied the hardware, but we were using Chuck’s IIfx. We installed the video card, monitor and booted the computer. Nothing. No video at all. We heard the boot chime, but the monitor was dark.
After the hard drive finished chattering (remember those days?), we figured the Mac was sitting at the Finder. We had to figure out how to safely shut down the Mac so we could check the video card and reboot.
In the original MacOS, you really wanted to avoid simply shutting off the computer because of potential disk directory corruption, so our options were limited. That’s when it hit me – I bet I could shut down this Mac.
I sat down at the Mac and cleared enough room for the mouse. I then moved the mouse up and to the left until I was certain that the mouse was in the top left corner of the display.
Back in the original MacOS, there were no application names in the menu bar, so the menus were very consistently located. File, Edit, View and Special. The Shutdown command was in the Special menu.
I moved the mouse to the right to where muscle memory told me where the Special menu was, clicked and held the mouse down. I then drug the mouse down to where I felt the Shutdown command was and released the mouse.
Yes! The Mac hard drive chattered and the computer shut down. Everyone was amazed, but this experience is why I loathe the current macOS design with the application name living between the Apple menu and File.
Because the application name changes length, the File menu in Mac apps can shift. Don’t believe me? Open ten applications and command-tab between them. You’ll watch the File menu shift left and right.
Aside from the application menu, displays now have varying dpi which also ruins consistency of the user interface across displays, so muscle memory is now nothing but a story from an old Macintosh user.