In Depth: Mac in time: 30 years of Apple's legendary PC

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This week marks the 30th anniversary of the initial Apple Macintosh − the computer that kick-started the PC transformation as we have known it.

Here’s a potted history of Apple’s ever-evolving device − the first mass-market desktop computer to provide a graphical user interface.

1984 − All-in-one beginnings

On January 24, Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs exposes the very first Mac to the world − an 8MHz 68k all-in-one with a 9-inch display, 3.5-inch floppy drive and 128k of RAM. Its greatest selling point is its graphic interface – consisting of elements from famous Palo Alto research company Xerox Parc – that can be controlled with a mouse. The first Mac even packs in 2 then-revolutionary applications: MacPaint and the MacWrite word processing program.

The Mac launches with that famous US$ 1.5 million Super Bowl ad by Ridley Scott − itself known as 1984.

1985 − Office hits the Mac

It’s a typical myth that Microsoft is an opponent of the Mac. It’s not so − it was one of its very first significant partners, a year after the Mac introduced. Microsoft delivers 2 unique apps (that you could’ve heard of) called Word and Excel. At this time, Microsoft also got PowerPoint from a company called Center.

In addition, 1985 sees the arrival of the first Apple printer and the Aldus PageMaker desktop publishing program − 2 developments that kick-start the desktop publishing revolution that Macs were so popular for. By the end of 1985, co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak have both left Apple, while Microsoft has actually let loose Windows 1.0 − a move that proves to be a vital milestone in the evolution of the desktop computer.

1986 − SCSI is key

The Mac gets a significant upgrade in the form of the Macintosh Plus. It now sports 1MB of RAM and SCSI: a brand-new peripheral connection requirement that makes it possible for devices such as printers and external hard disks to be daisy chained together. The Mac os reaches variation 3.0 and consists of such improvements as the capability to nest folders inside one another.

1987 − Business is targeted

The Macintosh Plus gives way for 2 brand-new Macs: The Macintosh SE provides a selection of 2 floppy drives or an internal hard disk, while the Macintosh II is focuseded on business users. The Mac II has a 256-colour 13-inch display, a 16MHz processor and can be specced with approximately 128MB of RAM. Mac OS, at the same time, has reached the lofty heights of variation 5.1 and makes it possible for background printing.

1988 − CD-ROM points the way

Next Apple introduces the System 6.0-powered Macintosh IIx: among the first personal computers to sport a CD-ROM drive. At the exact same time, Steve Jobs discloses the first fruits of his new computer system company, NeXT. It’s an all-in-one box called the NeXT Dice that ships with a magneto-optical drive (rather of a floppy) and has a 17-inch display as standard. Steve Jobs is currently taking the foward-looking method to future technologies that we will see with later Macs.

1989 − The first Mac laptop

Apple introduces three new Macs − the SE/30, Mac IIc and Mac IIci. Of these, the Mac IIci is the most intriguing. It’s a modular Mac with a separate color display and a more compact desktop case, however ships with a 25MHz 68k processor − making it the speediest Mac made to this day.

Apple also introduces its very first laptop − the 7.25 kg Mac Portable. At NeXT, Steve Jobs exposes NeXTstep: a new Unix-based OS that’s a big bearing on the future direction of latter-day Macs.

1990 − Mass market computing

Apple presents its fastest computer system yet − the 40MHz Macintosh IIfx. It’s developed to battle the perception that Computers running DOS are much faster than their GUI-wielding Mac rivals. Microsoft Windows 3.0 makes its debut in the same year at a time when Apple has 20 % of the total computing market.

Macintosh IIfx

1991 − Performance is the key

Apple ups the ante on the COMPUTER, introducing six brand-new Macs, including two high-end Quadras − desktop tower Computers with Motorola 68040 CPUs up to 2.5 times faster than their predecessors. Apple likewise presents a brand-new variety of Mac portables called PowerBooks: the very first laptops to have keyboards at the back and the trackpad at the front. Mac OS reaches System 7.0.

1992 − Apple hits the buffers

The wheels start to come off the Apple pleased bus. First of all, it ships a variety of underpowered consumer Macs called Performas. Then Microsoft teams up with Intel to deliver better-performing x486 Computers running the increasingly-popular Windows 3.1. Things are going better at NeXT, with version 3.0 of the NeXTstep OS transitioning from Motorola 68K to Intel CPUs. It’s launched the following year.

1993 − Windows takes a bite

Apple introduces 19 brand-new Macs split throughout 6 various varieties, including the ColorClassic to the low-end LC, mid-range Centris and upmarket Quadra. In addition to Performas and PowerBooks, Apple announces that it’s shipped its 10 millionth Mac, but competitors’s getting tougher and Microsoft states Windows is now being used by over 25 million people.

1994 − The shift to PowerPC

Apple begins the very first significant change that it’ll make during the Mac’s 25 year history. It begins with the arrival of the first 3 Power Macs − devices that work on PowerPC RISC (Reduced Guideline Set Computer) architecture. The PowerPC chips are much, much faster than the CISC-based chips that Apple has actually been using up until now and are the result of an alliance in between Apple, IBM and Motorola. 1994 likewise sees the arrival of System 7.5.


1995 − The Mac cannot compete

Apple is attacked with a double whammy around this time: the arrival of Windows 95 and the ongoing success of Intel’s unbelievably popular Pentium CPUs. Apple’s PowerPC-equipped Macs are selling well, but the rest of its line-up underwhelms. Apple accredits its OS to belatedly take on the Windows and Intel systems, however by September Steve Jobs is telling Fortune that he knows how to turn Apple’s fortunes around and no-one at the company will listen.

1996 − Jobs is back

In February, Steve Jobs shocks numerous by informing Fortune: ‘If I were running Apple, I’d bleed the Macintosh for all it’s worth − and get busy on the next fantastic thing. The COMPUTER wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time earlier.’ Apple lastly lays the old 68k processors to rest and starts deal with System 8.0 − the next variation of the Mac OS. By the end of the year Apple also obtains Jobs’ company NeXT and its NeXTstep operating system. Steve Jobs is back in the fold, which ends up a prelude to Apple becoming the business we know today.

20th anniversary Mac

1997 − Jobs returns to basics

Apple has too many product, too couple of consumers and is hemorrhaging cash. Jobs, now interim CEO, describes Apple’s dilemma to Time in October, stating: ‘Apple has some remarkable properties, however I think without some attention, the company could, could, could … could, can die.’ Apple persuades Expense Gates to buy $150 million worth of shares in the company. Jobs exterminates the Mac clones. The Mac OS reaches System 8 and Apple begins work on Rhapsody, the precursor to Mac OS X. Year end sees Apple shipping Macs with PowerPC G3 chips that easily outmatch their predecessors.

1998 − The iMac advertises a new era

Steve Jobs remains to wage war on Apple’s inventory, exterminating the Newton PDA. He concentrates the business on a new product that takes Apple back to its beginnings: the iMac. Jobs’ vision takes shape as an all-in-one system boasting a 233MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 32MB of RAM, a 4GB hard disk drive and a 15-inch display. It’s no floppy disk drive or legacy ports, but instead offers easy web hookup and USB − a nascent peripheral connection from Intel. It’s a smash hit with customers worldwide.

The original 'Bondi Blue' iMac

1999 − G4 speeds ahead

The iMac gets much faster and becomes available in more enticing colors. It’s signed up with by the bondi blue Power Mac, which includes G3 PowerPC processors adding to 450MHz. Apple likewise introduces a brand-new variety of G3 laptop computers, including the toilet seat-shaped iBook. The most significant surprise is the Power Mac G4 tower, which Apple calls the ‘world’s very first desktop supercomputer’. Lastly, Apple announces Flight terminal, the first 802.11 b Wi-Fi router and Mac OS X Server − the world’s very first taste of a significant leap in the Mac user interface.

2000 − OS X shows its face

Steve Jobs advertises the customer variation of Mac OS X, with the very first betas appearing at the end of the year. Eventually, it looks excellent, but lacks functions and is too sluggish. It is, nonetheless, really various from System 9. Apple’s existing Mac products − the iMac, iBook, Power Mac and PowerBook − get speed bumps and color changes, instead of anything revolutionary. There’s also the launch of the Power Mac G4 Cube − a headless Mac that harks back to Steve Jobs’ days at NeXT. It’s a flop as it’s too costly and suffers from fractures in the casing.

The G4 Cube suffered from a poor quality finish, but it looked cool

2001 − The spinning coastline ball era

Apple ships Mac OS X 10.1, featuring the Aqua color design, use of translucency and missing out on features. It’s still very slow and the ‘spinning beach ball of death’ quickly becomes a familiar phrase in a Mac user’s vocabulary. From a design point of view it’s Apple’s Windows Vista − all design and element that was too sluggish to really use.

Apple also reveals an absolutely new design for its laptop computers, with the PowerBook packing a 15-inch widescreen display and G4 CPU into a 1-inch-thick titanium case. The first iBooks make their debut, however the spruced up iMac is a catastrophe: its patterned Blue Dalmation and Flower Power case designs keep buyers away. Finally, Apple releases a 5GB music player called the iPod, while Microsoft introduces the still-trundling Windows XP.

Flower power

2002 − The OS X upgrade cadence takes off

Apple launches a spruced up variation of the iMac with semi-spherical base and a flat panel display that ‘floats’ on a cantilevered chrome arm. It also shows off new consumer iBooks, revamped G4 Power Macs and the eMac, which is focuseded on schools. OS X 10.2 Jaguar also enters the fray, providing 150 brand-new functions and a long-awaited speed boost.

2003 − A complete refresh

Apple kills off the Mac OS Classic mode and spruces up the whole Mac line: iBooks, PowerBooks, Power Mac G4 towers, the iMac and the eMac. A significant speed boost also shows up with the Power Mac G5 in June. It’s two 64-bit PowerPC G5 processors from IBM running at 2.0 GHz apiece. The iPod strikes 40GB and is joineded by the launch of the iTunes Shop and the arrival of the iPod and iTunes on Windows.

2004 − The iMac as we understand it

The year is dominated by the iPod instead of the Mac, with Apple even touting the Mac as being ‘from the developers of iPod’. The iMac gets a major spruce up − the drifting LCD and hemispherical base changed by an all-in-one design that packs a computer behind a flat panel LCD − so we’ve actually had a really comparable iMac design for a decade now. Apple is now in disrespectful wellness, however it’s PC market share falls to its floor: simply 3 % worldwide.

The UK’s first Apple Shop opens in Regent Street, London. Over the coming months Apple Stores prove to be important PR for the company as Apple desktops, laptops and iOS gadgets end up being ever more recognisable.

2005 − The G5 is here, but it can not compete

IBM delivers the very first dual-core PowerPC G5 chips to Apple, allowing it to offer Power Mac G5s to its professional consumers with 2 dual-core CPUs inside. Nonetheless, IBM is not able to provide exactly what Apple actually requires − a quickly, low-powered PowerPC G5 chip that can be utilized in Apple’s troubling iBook and PowerBook line.

And so, in June, ‘hell freezes over’ when Jobs announces that Apple is to receive its 3rd significant change − a major switch to Intel processors, implying that Apple hardwaren’t will be set apart from that in PCs. Mac OS X 10.5 ‘Tiger’ is revealed in April.

The Mac Mini also takes a bow in January 2005 with PowerPC G4 processors, and has now been through numerous revisions. From modest beginnings, it’s now an extremely powerful equipment available with Intel Core i7 processors.

2006 − Intel takes the Mac

Every Mac that Apple makes ditches the PowerPC chip in favor of Intel Core Duo processors, beginning with the iMac, Mac Mini and MacBook Pro in January, and ending with the Mac Pro in August. By the end of the year the MacBook Pro has been spruced up once again, this time sporting Core 2 Duo processors.

Boot Camp, likewise presented this year, enables all owners of Intel Macs to dual boot their Macs with Windows. Universal applications for both Intel and PowerPC are not that usual, however Apple’s Rosetta software application allows PowerPC apps to operate on Intel Macs.

And then there were the Get a Mac advertisements. Not specifically Apple’s classiest hour.

2007 − Portable Macs become performance powerhouses

Apple’s year kicks of with a bang and they announce 8-core Mac Pros will be available as a buy-to-order option. Apple embraces the Intel Santa Rosa chipset for the MacBook Pro in August and revamps the iMac so that it now sports an aluminum and glass enclosure with Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs.

2007 likewise sees the introduction of the iPhone, with banners at Macworld Exposition in January describing the company’s history and proclaiming ‘the first 30 years were just the beginning’.

Windows Vista launches, and is commonly criticised, before OS X 10.5 Leopard goes on sale in October. It becomes Apple’s biggest-selling OS X upgrade so far.

The original MacBook

2008 − The MacBook Air leaves the envelope

Apple’s most effective year ever kicks off with the statement that the Mac Pro is to provide 8-core processing as standard, plus there are quicker iMacs, MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Apple likewise reveals the MacBook Air − an ultra-light note pad with a multi-touch trackpad for gestures.

By completion of the year, the MacBook and MacBook Pro get another revamp, this time with a new ‘unibody’ enclosure that sees the bottom cases milled from solid block of aluminium.

2009 − A smaller sized MacBook Pro

Steve Jobs announces in June that OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard makes it possible for all apps to harness the power of multi-core processors.

This year is, nonetheless, more notable for the long-awaited release of the 13.3-inch variation of the MacBook Pro − the natural successor to the 12-inch version of the PowerBook G4.

2010 − The future is download

The Mac App Shop takes a bow and foreruns an optical drive free-future for the Mac. It requires the v10.6.6 update for Snow Leopard, which will end up being a sticking point for the release of OS X Lion the year after.

The 11-inch MacBook Air is likewise presented, in the middle of much speculation that Apple would launch an awesome device to rival all the inexpensive PC netbooks that were around at the time. It decides to eliminate them with the iPad instead.

MacBook Pro

2011 − Thunderbolt indicate much faster interfaces

OS X Lion is released in July, the very first version of OS X not to be launched on disc in one format or another. A USB flash variation is provided, enabling those who’ve concerns linking to the net to make use of the store. Many who have not updated to Snow Leopard are captured out because they do not have access to the Mac App Shop.

Also in 2011, Apple ships the very first MacBook Pros including Intel’s Thunderbolt tech, which utilizes the same physical port as Mini DisplayPort. It has not yet taken off, though remains to include on all brand-new Macs.

The iMac continued to go from strength to strength

2012 − Retina displays pertain to the Mac

Fans of the long-neglected Mac Pro line lastly gets a fillip with the information that there will be a statement of a new version in 2013.

The summer season sees OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion attacked the Mac App Establishment, which continues the trend of OS X Lion to include an iOS-style sheen to OS X and presents many of the exact same calling conventions for apps.

The end of the year showcases a modified Mac mini along with a brand-new iMac, with an even thinner display − just 5mm at the edges.

The MacBook Pro is revised however likewise gets a welcome boost through a new Retina display variation and a slimline unibody build without any optical drive. Both 15- and 13-inch variations are launched in 2012, with a modification in early 2013. These new models are also noteworthy for their HDMI ports.

2013 − The brand-new Mac Pro is here

After the MacBook Pro modification comes an additional improvement for the MacBook Air.

The Mac ends the year on a high, with the release of the Mac Pro in addition to OS X 10.9 Mavericks (Apple claims it ran out of huge cat names). Mavericks hadn’t been a terrific leap forward and had its troubles, however it’s still extremely effective for the business.

We are expecting OS X 10.10 in late 2014, but there’s no tip yet of a totally new variation number in OS X 11.