Today the Apple product line holds universal appeal, but perhaps its most significant captive audience is young people. With the ability to shape consumption preferences like no other group, today’s youngsters are feverish consumers of technology and also the future of the industry. But many of today’s dedicated Macintosh users were still in the push-chair, or perhaps even years from birth when the company first set out. It’s about time to take a history lesson I think!
In 1976 the ‘two Steves’, Jobs and Wozniak, created a union that would go on to revolutionize the face of personal computing. First from Jobs’ bedroom, and later his parent’s garage, the two set out to conquer the fast emerging computing scene. And in time the potential of Wozniak’s technical skill and Jobs’ sheer enthusiasm and know-how would go on to be proven on the largest scale. Early Apple models, including the Apple I, were hand-built by Wozniak and shown off at a number of Silicon Valley enthusiast meetings. At this stage, however, computers were the reserve of true ‘nerds’ – not the groundbreaking and widely adopted piece of kit we know today.
And it was the Macintosh (or Mac) that changed all this. As you view this article you’ll be interacting with a GUI (or Graphical User Interface). You almost certainly take this for granted, because hey, every computer has graphics capabilities and an intuitive interface for you to navigate, right? Not always so. And it was this creation that took computers from an early tech dream to an essential for most everyone in the western world. The Mac was launched in 1984 and became a sales success almost immediately, but it faced stiff competition some years later from a famous rival. Microsoft launched its Windows operating system shortly after and with a lower shelf price it began to quickly eat up market share. This was a question of price and not quality – many shared the belief that Apple was the true innovator and also the superior product. However, Windows proved to have staying power and a broad range of useful software titles.
The performance figures of the original Macintosh began to sour and Jobs himself was forced out of the company he founded in 1986 after corporate disagreements. The years that followed almost saw the company swallowed up entirely, due in large part to its struggle to compete with Microsoft and its ailing product line, Then one day, and with a full circle strike of fate, Apple’s destiny changed dramatically. The company Steve Jobs left to form was acquired by Apple CEO Gil Amelio and in turn Jobs was brought back into the loop first as an adviser, and within just one year, CEO.
In 1998 the best selling Mac ever launched at that point, the iMac, shifted over three quarters of a million units in just 4 and a half months on the market. Reinvigorated by this success the Macintosh team set out to rival the Windows platform by rapidly acquiring proprietary software titles bundled into its iLife suite. This was another wise move for the Mac, a computer whose beauty and performance were really in doubt but sometimes overshadowed by a lack of complementary programs. In the years to follow the MacBook Air/Pro and Mac Pro work station computers followed, each changing the face of its respective marketplace. To this day the Mac still possesses a relatively small market share – but nevertheless an extremely powerful one. More than two thirds of high end personal computers sold in the United States are emblazoned with that iconic part-bitten Apple. And today more than ever it seems the legacy of Mac is set to grow.
Read more on the History of the Mac if you share the fascination for its invention and growth!