Macintosh Remains an Admired Computing Icon 30 Years After Its Debut

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-01-24 Print this article Print

Apple's Macintosh turned 30 years old on Jan. 24. It's hard to believe that it was 30 years ago that Steve Jobs announced the original Macintosh and set off a personal computer rivalry that continues to this day. Admittedly, the Macintosh was a labor of love for Jobs, but after 30 years it is recognized as one of the most iconic devices to ever hit store shelves. Another remarkable achievement is that the Macintosh has prospered as a personal computer alternative for millions of users around the world despite the dominance of Windows PCs. Today, Apple is carrying on the Macintosh legacy with a range of computers that, in one way or another, have been inspired by the original design. This eWEEK slide show looks back at the evolution of the Macintosh to highlight how it evolved with computer technology while retaining an image of elegance and simplicity. But it also shows that not all of the products that Apple released under the Macintosh brand were wildly successful. Take a look at how the Macintosh has changed through the years.

  • Macintosh Remains an Admired Computing Icon 30 Years After Its Debut

    By Don Reisinger
    Macintosh Remains an Admired Computing Icon 30 Years After Its Debut
  • Macintosh

    The original Macintosh is an icon today in part because of its design, which boasted a 9-inch screen and included keyboard and mouse, but also because it was unveiled in the famous "1984" ad by Ridley Scott during Super Bowl XVIII. Once the 128K computer hit store shelves, it was viewed as a device that could at least slow down the IBM PC onslaught and popularize the 3.5-inch disk drive. Today, it's remembered as a device that made every company start thinking about design. (PHOTO:
  • Macintosh II

    Apple's Macintosh II line introduced a modular design to the company's products. The Mac II series of devices, which Apple began selling in 1987, didn't come with a built-in monitor like the previous model, but they were about as powerful a machine as customers could get at that time. The series can be directly tied to Apple's desire for high-end features across its computer line even today.
    Macintosh II
  • Macintosh TV

    The Macintosh TV was a rare, but massive marketing mistake for Apple. The device, which Apple launched in 1993, was capable of acting both as a computer and a television. Apple believed at the time that users would want to be able to seamlessly switch between TV and computer, but quickly discovered—after just a few months on store shelves—that its hunch was wrong.
    Macintosh TV
  • Power Macintosh 6100

    The Power Macintosh is notable for being the first from the company to use the PowerPC chips developed by IBM and Motorola. The device, introduced in 1994, came with power-user-friendly features, like a 60/66MHz CPU. Again, the computer didn't come with a built-in display, and it was the first Macintosh computer to run Mac OS 9. (PHOTO:
    Power Macintosh 6100
  • Macintosh Quadra

    Before there was a Power Macintosh line, there was a family of computers from Apple called the Macintosh Quadra. Like the Macintosh II that came before it, the Quadra was a high-end product with features that, for the time, were highly sought-after. The first Quadra-series computer hit store shelves in 1991 with a 25MHz CPU. (PHOTO:
    Macintosh Quadra
  • iMac G3

    It wasn't until 1998 that the first iMac was unveiled. The device was designed by the now-famous Jonathan Ive and came with an egglike design that was beloved by some and hated by others. Needless to say, it was a polarizing device. Still, the iMac re-established Apple in the eyes of computer buyers. The device was also the first from Apple to ditch the floppy disk drive for USB. The computer has been called the first "legacy-free PC"—a term used to describe the nixing of certain ports and features, like the floppy disk drive, in favor of USB.
    iMac G3
  • eMac

    Apple's eMac was a device that the company couldn't quite get to feel at home in any one market. The "e" in the computer's name stood for "education," and the system was initially targeted at schools when it was released in 2002. Soon after, Apple tried the eMac's luck in the consumer market before eventually making it an education-only product once again. Interesting fact: The eMac weighed 50 pounds.
  • Mac Mini

    The Mac Mini, which first hit store shelves in 2005, is still kicking over at the Apple Store. The device's design hasn't changed all that much in the years it's been available, and it's always been eyed as a tiny, affordable Mac desktop for those who want to try out the Apple world. And for many users, it has done that job quite well.
    Mac Mini
  • iMac (Intel)

    Apple's iMac line can be directly traced back to the original Macintosh computer. But it wasn't until 2006 that Steve Jobs made a huge announcement regarding the all-in-one PC: It would be the first Macintosh to use an Intel CPU, rather than the PowerPC chips Apple had been using for years. The decision was a blow to IBM and a boon for Intel. And to this day, Intel chips are still the favored components in Apple's computers.
    iMac (Intel)
  • The New Mac Pro

    No discussion on the history of the Macintosh would be complete without a look to the future. Apple's newly redesigned Mac Pro is a major departure from just about any other computer on the market. The device is cylindrical, is only 10 inches tall and is by far the most powerful Mac Apple has ever offered. The new Mac Pro will carry Apple well into the next several years and could become the benchmark by which all other desktop PCs are judged.
    The New Mac Pro
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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