apple presents 30 years of mac, highlighting three decades of technology and design
1984 – macintosh
all images © apple
thirty years ago, apple introduced the macintosh with the aim to put the creative power of technology in everyone’s hands. in 1984, most people didn’t even know how to use a computer.
thanks to the simple interface of the macintosh, users learned to navigate what is now a ubiquitous technology. the software and design was approachable and friendly; the start-up screen initiated with a smiley face that greeted you. there were folders that looked like file folders, and a trash can for throwing things away. with the click of a mouse, you could suddenly do the unimaginable. you could move things around on the screen, change the way they looked, combine words with images and sounds, and create like never before. a new era had begun.
1985 – macintosh XL
the design of the macintosh XL was based on the predecessor of the original macintosh, the apple LISA. modified to run the mac operating system, the macintosh XL featured 1mb of ram, a 400k disk drive, and a large 12-inch monochrome display.
1986 – macintosh plus
the first expandable macintosh introduced the SCSI port to the mac, enabling the connection of external hard drives, scanners, modems, and printers. thanks to apple’s new localtalk networking technology, anyone with pagemaker software and a laserwriter printer could design and print documents with beautiful text and graphics. desktop publishing was born.
1987 – macintosh II
the macintosh II featured a new modular design that could support a much broader range of displays — including some that offered color. with the simple addition of a video card, the macintosh II could display 256 colors from a palette of 16.7 million.
1988 – macintosh IIx
the macintosh IIx wasn’t just a follow-up to the previous model. it introduced the 1.44mb floppy disk to the mac line, nearly doubling the capacity compared to earlier computers. this floppy disk would later become the standard in personal computers over the next decade.
1989 – macintosh portable
the macintosh portable was apple’s first battery-powered computer. weighing almost 16 pounds, it wasn’t nearly as portable as today’s notebooks. the laptop was the first off-the-shelf notebook to be taken into space, aboard the space shuttle atlantis in 1991. among other things, it was used to send the very first email from space.
1990 – macintosh LC
the macintosh LC dramatically lowered the price of a color-capable computer, making it accessible to more people. the color option opened a new world of possibilities, letting users expand their creativity by doing things they could only imagine. the computer also introduced built-in audio input to the mac, making it easier to use sound as a powerful creative tool.
1991 – macintosh powerbook
the powerbook was the first truly portable macintosh. its innovative design, with the keyboard positioned close to the screen, allowed people to rest their palms while they typed. and the rolling trackball made it possible to move around the screen with more precision than ever before.
1992 – macintosh quadra 950
the first macintosh in a tower design, the quadra 900 series featured an ethernet port for high-speed connections to computer networks. because of its sheer power, it quickly becoming the creative tool of choice for photographers, publishers, and ad agencies.
1993 – macintosh TV
this was the first macintosh with built-in television capabilities. it was an early example of apple designers combining multiple devices into one, and was the only black macintosh desktop until the introduction of the new mac pro.
1994 – macinstosh powerbook 540c
the powerbook 540c wasn’t just the first powerbook with an LCD display and ethernet — it introduced the revolutionary trackpad that’s still used in notebooks today.
1995 – power macintosh 850
the power macintosh 8500 was the world’s first personal computer with AV import and export capability, enabling near-broadcast-quality video and audio, and jump-starting the popularity of the mac with video professionals.
1996 – macintosh powerbook 1400
underneath the gray exterior of the powerbook 1400 was something truly different and innovative: a CD drive. for the first time, a portable computer could work with high-resolution video and advanced audio.
1997 – 20th anniversary macintosh
celebrating apple’s 20th birthday, this macintosh wasn’t like other computers of the day. it was personally delivered and set up by a white-glove concierge service. with its unique form and custom BOSE sound system, it represented a futuristic vision of the desktop computer.
1998 – iMac
the original iMac marked the beginning of a new chapter for apple and computers. it was the first computer to do away with floppy disks and popularize the USB port. designed by jonathan ive, its egg-shaped, all-in-one form wasn’t like anything anyone had seen before either. the translucent shell came in ‘bondi blue’, the best part of the iMac was its simplicity: you just plugged it in and turned it on.
1999 – power mac G4
the power mac G4 was heralded as the world’s first personal supercomputer. at the time, it was so powerful it was even classified as a weapon by the U.S government. paired with final cut pro – which also debuted in 1999 – it brought hollywood-quality editing capabilities to a desktop computer.
2000 – iBook
dubbed as the ‘clamshell’, the iBook came equipped with airport technology; it was the first computer to have built-in wi-fi connectivity, paving the way for the mobile revolution.
2001 – powerbook G4
the titanium powerbook G4 was a big departure from the previous black curvilinear models – it was the world’s first widescreen notebook. the computer shipped with mac OS X, a completely re-engineered operating system that introduced the dock. the year 2001 also brought itunes, which would go on to revolutionize the music industry.
2002 – iMac
the new iMac design was the first to feature an LCD screen — an innovation that led to a much thinner profile. when the display was mounted on an adjustable arm above a white hemisphere, the unique form really took shape.
2003 – power mac G5
the power mac G5 was the first desktop computer with 64-bit architecture. it also introduced the tower design that would define pro computing in the years to come. inside its anodized aluminum chassis was superior power and expandability, and the engine that would propel a decade of creativity.
2004 – iBook G4
2004 brought much faster performance to the iBook notebooks, which at the time sported a glossy white polycarbonate case. garageband joined iPhoto and iMovie to complete the iLife suite of apps, giving every mac user the tools to be creative with photos, videos, and music.
2005 – iMac G5
the iMac G5 was a completely new design, with the logic board mounted behind the flat-panel display and the computer elevated above the desk on an aluminum foot. a remote, which could magnetically attach to the side, gave users one-click access to their photos, music, and videos from anywhere in the room. this was also the first mac with a built-in iSight camera and integrated with iChat, so anyone could start video chatting right out of the box.
2006 – macbook pro
the change to an intel processor gave this mac notebook such a massive boost in performance. the macbook pro boasted up to quadruple the speed of the powerbook G4, professionals were no longer chained to their desks and had the freedom to create anywhere with a notebook.
2007 – iMac
the redesign of the iMac was radical in every way. it was housed in an extremely slim enclosure made out of pure glass and aluminum. in fact, only one screw was visible, and that was underneath the display.
2008 – macbook air
the macbook air was the first unibody notebook, crafted from a single piece of aluminum. instead of a removable battery, it had one built-in. the popularity of downloadable music meant an optical disc drive was no longer needed. the ubiquity of wi-fi networks also made an ethernet port unnecessary, which as a result, achieved the world’s thinnest notebook by removing all necessary components.
2009 – iMac
2009 was the year widescreen came to the desktop. the iMac was also the first mac to come with the magic mouse, which enabled the use of multi-touch gestures to intuitively scroll through documents, pan across web pages, and swipe through photos.
2010 – macbook air
2010 saw a complete rethinking and re-engineering of the macbook air. it was the first notebook designed entirely around flash storage, which made it faster and more durable and allowed more space for a longer-lasting battery. and for the first time, the macbook air came in a compact 11-inch version weighing just 2.3 pounds.
2011 – macbook pro
the new generation of macbook pro was the first computer with thunderbolt technology, a new i/o standard for connecting to next-generation peripherals with extremely fast data transfer speeds.
2012 – macbook pro with retina display
this was the first mac that featured the retina display – it provided 2880-by-1800 resolution, where individual pixels couldn’t be discerned with the human eye. this display let mac users see more detail than ever before, and it had a huge impact on photography, design, and moviemaking.
2013 – iMac
introduced in late 2012 and updated the following year, the iMac was just 5 millimeters at its edge and made everything behind its display seem to disappear. it was the culmination of years of design exploration, attempting to distill the imac down to its most essential form — a large display with nothing to distract from it.
2014 – mac pro
in 2014, the mac pro takes the most advanced technologies available and puts them together like no computer before it. it features two workstation-class graphics processors, incredibly fast flash storage, and unprecedented expansion capabilities.
for another blast from the past, see hartmut esslinger’s designs from early apple computer and tablets here.
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