This week marked the 20th anniversary of the little Mac that could, the Mac luggable that single-handedly saved Apple. Well, maybe not, but you get the iDea that iMac had an outsized influence on Apple’s prosperity.
I bought an iMac within a few days after they showed up at CompUSA. What a rip off. Both from Apple and CompUSA which ordered more iMacs with more RAM and storage and bundled them with accessories to raise the price in the face of high demand.
Let’s assume that history is correct and the iMac helped to save Apple from what seemed like a slow death walk into oblivion at worst, and the niche annals of history at best. The iMac was a big hit for Apple. Customers loved it so much that critics couldn’t find much not to like except the mouse.
Yes, that mouse. The hockey puck mouse. Steve Jobs loved it so the iMac came with it, and that mouse single-handedly helped launch the new iMac’s USB third party mouse industry. The first iMac was Bondi (Bond-Eye) Blue, named after a beach in Australia. The iMac’s body was somewhat translucent here and there.
Inside was a paltry amount of RAM, a tiny amount of hard disk drive storage, and a rather anemic– by Windows PC standards of the day– PowerPC CPU. The original iMac had a handle and Steve Jobs said it was blazing fast. It wasn’t but nobody cared because it was fast enough.
The original iMac’s claim to fame was ease of use– no other PC was easier to setup and use on the internet, hence the monicker– iMac. ‘i’ for internet. The early iMacs sold briskly and helped propel Apple toward a future of next great things in abundance. The iMac made its way out of the dark and lonely confines CompUSA and Circuit City and other retailers which had pronounced Apple as mostly dead.
Along came the Apple Stores in malls, then iTunes, then iPod and iTunes and the iTunes Music Store. Not long after that, the Mac went all Intel Inside, and iMac itself went through drastic changes from the diminutive iMac original to the goose-neck iMac to today’s more refined style. Then Apple launched iPhone and iPad and Steve Jobs died.
That was the end of an era.
Today’s Apple seems to lumber along, still making money hand over fist, but Jobs introduced products that changed their respective industries and put a few dents in the universe, while Apple under CEO Tim Cook seems only capable of making accessories for the iPhone.
What will save Apple from itself?