The History of the Macintosh

Some people forget that Apple, formerly known as Apple Computer, was in business for almost ten years before the Macintosh debuted. In fact, in the late 1970s the firm had two of the best-selling “conformist” computers around, the Apple II and IIe. Still, it was the “1984″-themed commercial that ran during the January 1984 Super Bowl broadcast that introduced most of the non-nerd world to Apple and its new Macintosh – new because of its mouse pointer, small size and “insanely great” Graphical User Interface (GUI). Times were not simply “a-changing.” Times changed, forever.

The first Mac was a drastic departure from Apple’s previous “new thing,” the $10,000 Lisa. The Lisa had the GUI, it had the mouse and it had the beginnings of a good product, but it cost too much, was too big and had a supremely expensive 1MB of RAM. Under Steve Jobs’ direction, the Macintosh rose from an appliance computing project started by Jef Raskin at Apple and was tasked with being the “computer for the rest of us.” Apple concentrated on bashing the bland conformity of DOS computing, the regnant standard of the early 1980s, so the Macintosh attracted artists, musicians, activists and evangelists from the very start. An early Apple employee, Guy Kawasaki, even wrote a Zen-like tome, “The Macintosh Way,” celebrating the advent of an era where many people could be non-conformists together, a slick bit of marketing if there ever were one.

The 1980s through the mid-1990s
Steve Jobs quit his job (before he could be fired) after losing a board of directors battle with John Sculley, the former Pepsi CEO that Jobs fought so hard to woo for Apple’s “business minded” executive. From the mid-1980s through 1996, Jobs was out, Wozniak went back to college – and the Macintosh, and its parent firm, foundered and floundered. Criticized throughout its first decade as underpowered and overpriced, with little business software, the Macintosh survived because of a confluence of factors that created the “desktop publishing revolution.” Had it not been for the introduction of the LaserWriter printer, a page layout program (PageMaker) from Aldus and an increase in RAM capacity from 128K in the original Mac to 4MB in the Mac Plus, the Mac may have died by 1987.

From the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, Apple became notorious for introducing strange, oddly configured computers – too many, with too many different product lines and names, and still underpowered. The introduction of the PowerPC CPU, a joint development among Apple, Motorola and IBM, was one attempt to make a serious business machine that still had that “certain X factor” beloved of creative types. A number of short-lived CEOs tried other things, like licensing the hardware and operating system to other manufacturers – Motorola, Power Computing, Radius – but that lasted just a few years because (as predicted by Jobs from the sidelines) the clones cannibalized Mac sales.

The return of the king
Steve Jobs, who had gone on to found and run Next, a maker of hardware and a Unix-based OS, returned to Apple in 1996 as a “consultant,” bringing the NextStep OS with him from the firm he’d founded after leaving Apple. Jobs tore through the product line eliminating duplication, waste and anything that was “NUMS” – Not Up to Mac Standards. This meant the end of licensing, the death of the Performa line, the abandonment of the Newton PDA and a new concentration on innovation and the development of a new OS. An entirely new kind of Apple exploded on the scene with the introduction in 1998 of the iMac, a marvel of both computer and product design. It changed the computer market in an instant, with those changes still reverberating throughout the high-technology universe.

The iMac was a colossal success, spawning imitators within weeks. Innovation went into overdrive at Apple’s Cupertino HQ, with iMac-ish redesigns of laptops and top-of-the-line tower computers, too. The iBook, which initially looked like a brightly colored toilet seat cover (but was a hit nonetheless), evolved with a few generations into the light, neat, inviting and stylish unit it remains today. The tower computers, powered by new generations of PowerPC chips (G3, G4, G5) got their makeovers, too, and the swirling storms of innovation and creativity got a new central organizing principle with the introduction in March 2001 of OS X 10.0, dubbed “Cheetah” which was based on NextStep. NextStep was the primary reason Apple bought Next, and they got Jobs in what turned out to be a great package deal. All subsequent releases have had cat names, too.

The OS X era
By the end of 2009, Mac OS X was up to version 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”), and Macs had been running on Intel chips since 2006. Although Intel was half of the hated “Wintel” combo of the 1980s and 1990s, Jobs and the Apple brain trust knew the PowerPC was at the end of its development cycle for use in laptops, due to power requirements and a massive heat sink. They also knew that laptops would be the majority of sales in the future. PCs always held between a slight and a dramatic speed advantage over Macs, so to keep pace with them Apple turned to the single, double, quad and even eight-core Intel CPUs. Today’s Macs are as fast or faster than their competitors in the same price range, and the “Apple premium” – the extra money one pays beyond a comparable PC – is easily seen in the superior build quality, the robust application bundle that comes with every new Mac and the reliability of the hardware, software and OS.

Today’s line of MacBooks, MacBook Pros, Mac Pros and iMacs are among the fastest, best built, most powerful and most capable personal computers ever made. With the migration to Intel CPUs, Macs can now run Windows natively (or slightly slower in “virtual” software environments), and are as attractive to educational institutions and businesses as to artists, writers, composers, entrepreneurs – and the rest of us.
Article Source: ABC Article Directory

About The Author:
Panergy is a leading developer of software for the Mac since 1992. Panergy creates a multilingual
docx converter software that allows users to gain access to documents created by applications they have not installed in order to improve their development and workflow for Print and Web Publishing.