From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Software

MacPaint is a bitmap-based image editing computer program that was produced by Apple Computer for bundling with their Macintosh personal computer. After being "forcibly ignored" for some time due to developer backlash, Apple eventually formed Claris to market updated versions of MacPaint and other early Apple software. As of 2004, MacPaint 1.5 and 2.0 is still being sold by Sun Remarketing.

Despite a short life span, MacPaint was many people's first GUI-based bitmap editing experience, and as such became the seminal work by which similar efforts were measured. The original Mac bundle also included MacWrite, a similarly easy-to-use word processor, and pictures from MacPaint could be placed inside MacWrite documents in a few keystrokes. The pair literally defined user expectations of a GUI-based computer.

Since the original Macintosh had only a black-and-white monitor, MacPaint only edited monochrome bitmaps with a fixed size of 576 x 720 pixels - the size of the ImageWriter's standard 8 x 10 inch sheet of paper at 72 DPI.

Xerox PARC researcher and Apple Fellow Alan Kay made a seminal home videotape showing his one year-old daughter starting a Macintosh 128K computer, inserting a floppy disk containing MacPaint, starting the program, and proceeding to paint with it. MacPaint, in part, represented a paradigm shift where computing had become a useful (and even entertaining) part of ordinary people's lives.

The first real improvement was FullPaint by Ann Arbor Softworks, then SuperPaint by Silicon Beach Software, PixelPaint by Supermac Technology (the first color-capable paint program) and eventually Adobe Systems introduced Photoshop around the same time Apple debuted the Macintosh IIfx.


MacPaint 1.0 was written by Bill Atkinson, a member of Apple's Macintosh development team. In 1988, David Ramsey made some improvements resulting in version 2.0. Both versions came in at around 45 kilobytes for the full application.

Somewhat curiously, the original MacPaint in fact broke many of the user interface guidelines then being pushed by Apple as the key to consistency between applications. MacPaint's interface did not consist of separate windows (also true of Atkinson's later HyperCard), but used a full screen approach, with fixed tool palettes in a dedicated area on the left and below the editing area. The window title bar shown above the editing area is fake — it cannot be moved. While this approach fit reasonably well with the single-tasking original Mac OS, the later addition of MultiFinder meant that MacPaint 1.0 did not "play well with others". This was one of the main issues addressed by MacPaint 2.0, which adopted "normal" windows and floating tool palettes.

The reason for this, was the that the creator of MacPaint, Bill Atkinson, complained that it was a mistake to allow users to specify their own desktop patterns (in early Macintosh Operating Systems, there was a Pattern Editor for the desktop), because, as he put it, it was "harder to make a nice one than it looked" (which was very true). He couldn't bear the thought of people creating ugly desktop patterns. In order to avoid potentially hideous patterns marring MacPaint, he made it so MacPaint allocated a window the size of the screen when it started up, and then filled it with the standard 50% gray pattern, covering up the real desktop pattern, protecting users from their "rash esthetic blunders, at least within the confines of MacPaint."

The original MacPaint did not incorporate a zoom function. Instead, a special magnification mode called FatBits was used, which showed each pixel as a clickable rectangle with a white border. Editing in this mode was extremely easy, and set the standard for many future editors.

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