Apple, when the Mac arrived, was a personal computer company and it took a decade for Microsoft and the PC industry to catch up with the point-and-click era brought about by the Mac. By then, Apple and the Mac were synonymous. Those days are gone but the Mac may stick around forever (almost).
iMac Is Apple
The fact that Apple did not start life with the Mac and now has ten times as many iPhone customers as Mac customers should tell us Apple’s story is a mixed back of personal computing devices that does not rely on the history of the Mac. The iMac Steve Jobs introduced 21 years ago might be a different story.
More than even the iPhone, it is the iMac that shows us what Apple always aims for —and usually gets.
Yes, the iconic iMac helped to save Apple at a time where its future was not guaranteed. Yet, what Apple aimed for in iPod (once larger than the Mac), iPhone and iPad were also hits; huge hits.
It’s standard and even a little trite now to say that the Apple of today is unrecognizable compared to the Apple of 1998, when the very first iMac was launched. Yet when people say this, they tend to be thinking of how Apple was ailing then and is now overwhelmingly successful.
Gallagher displays a graphic profile of history from the Bondi Blue iMac of 1998 to the iMac Pro of today; including the clumsy looking goose neck iMac and the chubby iMacs in between.
Even Apple’s logos have changed through the year. Nothing improves without change. Including the Mac.
It’s been transformed over the years, and Apple’s aims for it have changed too, but the sole item on sale in 1998 that you can still buy today is the iMac.
Kinda, sorta, mostly, maybe. You could buy other Macs in 1998. iMac was not Apple’s only Mac, but I understand the sentiment.
That’s remarkable for a company that is known for ditching its products as quickly as it launches them.
A few examples would be useful. Apple Cube. AirPower doesn’t count. Neither does the decade plus run of iPod. An iPhone has an iPad inside.
What Apple did with the Mac is what co-founder Steve Jobs was very good at doing. Killing technology that did not have a future.
The original iMac and USB is another perfect example.
Apple had been using ADB for 14 years at this point for keyboards —and it was gone. It had been using SCSI since the dawn of the Mac, and that was exterminated as well.
Yes, Apple has changed since the iMac in 1998. Apple is far more diversified now than then. Steve Jobs did exactly what he said he would do. Milk the Mac for all it was worth and move on to the next great thing.
iPod. iTunes. iTunes Music Store. iPhone. App Store. iPad. CEO Tim Cook’s legacy since then is more about profits, wasting money on shareholders, and building iPhone accessories, but let me save that argument for another time.
Will the Mac live forever? Probably not, because forever is a very long time, but as long as we have personal computers shaped the way they are today, there is a good chance the Mac will be among them.