Infobox Software
name = MacPaint

caption = Screenshot of MacPaint 1.0
developer = Apple Computer, Claris
latest_release_version = 2.0
latest_release_date = 1988
operating_system = System 1,2,3,4,5 System 6 System 7
genre = Bitmap-based image editing
license = Proprietary

MacPaint is a bitmap-based graphics painting software program developed by Apple Computer and released with the original Macintosh personal computer on January 22, 1984. It was sold separately for US$195 with its word processor counterpart, MacWrite. [cite news
last = Young
first = J.S
title = MacPaint: The Electronic Easel
work = Macworld
pages = 50-61
date = 1984
] MacPaint was notable because it could generate graphics that could be used by other applications. Using the mouse, and the clipboard and QuickDraw picture language, pictures could be cut from MacPaint and pasted into MacWrite documents..cite news
last = Sandberg-Diment
first = Erik
title = Software for the Macintosh: Plenty on the way
work = New York Times
date = January 31, 1984
url =
] Pictures could also be cut from MacPaint and pasted into the resource fork of any application via ResEdit, allowing application internationalization.

The original MacPaint was developed by Bill Atkinson, a member of Apple's original Macintosh development team.cite news
last = Elmer-DeWitt
first =Philip
title = Let us now praise famous hackers: a new view of some much maligned electronic pioneers
work = Time
page = 76
date = December 3, 1984
] Early development versions of MacPaint were called MacSketch, still retaining part of the name of its roots, LisaSketch. [cite book
last = Hertzfeld
first = Andy
title = Revolution in the Valley
publisher = O'Reilly
date = 2005
pages = pp. 153-155
isbn = 0596007191
] It was later developed by Claris, the software subsidiary of Apple which was formed in 1987. The last version of MacPaint was version 2.0, released in 1988. It was discontinued by Claris in 1998 because of diminishing sales.cite news
last = Walsh
first = Jeff
title = Claris puts old Mac applications out to pasture
work = InfoWorld
page = 35
date = November 24, 1997



MacPaint was written by Bill Atkinson, a member of Apple's original Macintosh development team. The original MacPaint consisted of 5,804 lines of Pascal computer code, augmented by another 2,738 lines of 68000 assembly language. [Hertzfeld (2005), p. 174] MacPaint's user interface was designed by Susan Kare, also a member of the Macintosh team.cite news
last = McGeever
first =C
title = Q&A: Susan Kare: 'I Never Planned to Be a Guiding Force in the Macintosh Design'
work = InfoWorld
page = 64
date = September 10, 1984
] Kare also beta tested MacPaint before release.

MacPaint uses two offscreen memory buffers to avoid flicker when dragging shapes or images across the screen.Hertzfeld (2005), p. 171] One of these buffers contained the existing pixels of a document, and the other contained the pixels of its previous state. The second buffer was used as the basis of the software's undo feature. In April 1983, the software's name was changed from MacSketch to MacPaint. [Hertzfeld (2005), p. 172] The original MacPaint was programmed as a single-document interface. The palette positions and sizes were unalterable, as was the document window. This was different from other Macintosh software at the time, which allowed the users to move windows and resize them.

The original MacPaint did not incorporate a zoom function. Instead of a zoom function, a special magnification mode called Fat Bits was used. Fat Bits showed each pixel as a clickable rectangle with a white border. The Fat Bits editing mode set the standard for many future editors. [Hertzfeld (2005), p. 147] MacPaint included a "Goodies" menu which included the Fat Bits tool. This menu was named the "Aids" menu in prerelease versions, but was renamed "Goodies" as public awareness of the AIDS epidemic grew in the summer of 1983. [Hertzfeld (2005), pp. 155-156]


MacPaint was first advertised in an 18-page brochure in December 1983, following the earlier announcement of the Macintosh 128k. [cite web|url=|title=Apple Macintosh 18 Page Brochure|publisher=DigiBarn Computer Museum|accessdate=2006-04-24] The Macintosh was released on January 24, 1984 with two applications, MacPaint and MacWrite. For a special post-election edition of "Newsweek" in November 1984, Apple spent more than US$2.5 million to buy all 39 of the advertising pages in the issue. The Newsweek advertisement included many pages dedicating to explaining how MacWrite and MacPaint worked together. [cite web|url=|title=1984 "Newsweek" Macintosh ads|publisher=GUIdebook, Newsweek|accessdate=2006-04-24] After launch, a "New York Times" reviewer noted how MacPaint unfolded numerous graphic possibilities for the personal computer; he went further to say "it is better than anything else of its kind offered on personal computers by a factor of 10." MacPaint continued to be bundled free with every new Macintosh until the introduction of the Macintosh Plus in 1986, when it was sold separately to assuage concerns from third-party software developers that their products would be able to compete.Fact|date=June 2008

Later versions

MacPaint 2.0 was released on January 11, 1988 by Claris. [cite news
title = Apple Computer unit introduces enhanced versions of MacDraw, MacProject, MacWrite and MacPaint
work = Reuters
date = January 11, 1988
] It added many improvements the software, including the capability to open and use nine documents simultaneously.cite news
last = Martinez
first = Carlos Domingo
title = MacPaint (Software Review)
work = MacUser
pages = 103
date=July 1988
] The original MacPaint operated as a single document application with a non-movable window. MacPaint 2.0 eliminated this limitation, introducing a fully functioning document window, which could be sized up to 8 x 10". Several other features were introduced, such as a Zoom tool, MagicEraser tool for undo actions and stationary documents. MacPaint 2.0 was developed by David Ramsey, a developer at Claris.cite news
title = Apple fires key programmer
work = Newsbytes
date = July 4, 1989
] MacPaint 2.0 was sold for US$125, with a US$25 upgrade available for existing users of MacPaint. Claris discontinued technical support for the original MacPaint in 1989.cite news
title = Claris restricts tech support
work = MacWEEK
pages = 1
date = February 7, 1989
] Claris stopped selling MacPaint in early 1998 because of diminishing sales.


MacPaint inspired other companies to release similar products for the IBM PC platform. [cite news
last = Bartimo
first = J
title = Programs Paint a Rosy Picture
work = InfoWorld
pages = 38-39
date = October 8, 1984
] Some of these included Broderbund's DazzleDraw for the Apple II, which cost US$50.Cite web
last = Elmer-Dewitt
first = Philip
title = The New Breeds of Software
publisher = "Time"
date = March 18, 1985
url =,9171,963402,00.html
] Mouse Systems' PC Paint was released for the IBM PC, and cost US$100. IBM released their painting package for the IBM PCjr, which was called Color Paint and cost US$100.

Version history


External links

* [ MacPaint Evolution from]
* [ The Vintage Mac Museum: 1-bit Screenshot of MacPaint]

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