Zack Michener



What if Spotify was available in 1987?

Since getting an old Fat Mac on Ebay a few months ago, I’ve been having a lot of fun learning to program for it. Getting back to the roots of GUI programming and design has been a focusing constraint in learning to build functional UIs — no color (not even grayscale!), barely any space, limited resources. It makes me appreciate the hard work and careful consideration many app makers had back then.

For this project I made a Sketch library for many of the old Macintosh Toolbox components, which is included in the download link. One thing to keep in mind while designing for the old Mac in Sketch is that pixel mode will make fonts look blurrier than they would be on the real device. The amazing Chicago FLF font lets us pretend to have the original bitmap font, but it doesn’t translate perfectly to the pixel version.

The album art posed a problem initially, since the old Mac can only display black and white pixels. At first I simply threshholded the images, but this quickly revealed limitations. Thankfully, I discovered Bayer pattern dithering from this blog, which was exactly what I needed. I adapted his final R script into one that could transform my album artwork correctly from the command line, which is also included.