The Mac Mini computer goes on sale this month -- 25 years after it was first introduced. Apple Computer's newest model turns out to carry the name of a handheld game machine unveiled in January 1980.
The MAC Mini Computer, sold by video-game pioneer Entex Industries, was a microcomputer with built-in calculator and pre-programmed games, according to the Handheld Games Museum (handheldmuseum.com), which catalogs electronic games machines of the 1970s and '80s.
Four C batteries
The old MAC Mini-Multi-functional Advanced Computer ran on 4,000 bytes of memory and four C batteries. The new Mac Mini is powered with 256 megabytes of memory -- about 67,000 times the power of the original.
But the product concepts are remarkably similar. Apple's pitch for Mac Mini: "Manage your music for iPod. ... Plug in your electric guitar or keyboard and make music ... balance your check book ... play games."
The old MAC Mini Entex's 1980 trademark application described it as a "combination electronic calculator, electronic computer, keyboard actuated table top electronic music synthesizer and ... electronic synthesizer for playing table top electronic game[s]."
Entex, best known for its Space Invader handheld game player, created its MAC four years before Apple introduced the Macintosh. Apple doesn't need to worry about trademark infringement. The trademark for the original MAC Mini Computer was canceled in 1989.