History of Macintosh Computers


The history of Macintosh computers is quite storied, despite the fact that they released their first computers only 30 years ago.

While the look and design of the Mac model has changed drastically over the years to meet the ever-changing market for personal computers, every single model and remake over the decades reflects the underpinning philosophy of pre-installed fully integrated software.

The Early Era

The name Macintosh stems right back to the first concept by Jef Raskin, an Apple employee who envisaged a world where everyone could have an affordable and easy to use computer. The name came from his favorite type of apple, the McIntosh. It took Raskin and his team, which also included the co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs, five years to go from concept to production.

McIntosh Apple Photo by Lars Zapf at Flickr

The first machine in the history of Macintosh computers packed a 128kb memory and a 256 x 256 pixel display. By comparison, the current memory is over 2,000 times that. And the current iPad 3 has a display of 1500 x 2256 pixels.

Desktop Publishing

The first users of the new Macintosh brand were mainly people who wanted to invest time in desktop publishing. This was a new revelation at the time, and the original Macs came pre-loaded with a word processor, which allowed users to edit text and basic graphics as well as a paint program that allowed users to draw black and white pixilated images.

The rest of the 1980s saw Apple release further bits of software with each new release, but the pre-installed operating system meant that the computers were not able to accept programs designed by other manufacturers.

Facing the Competition

After the initial surge of interest, the lack of software brought the dark days of the 1990's into Macintosh history. Their PC competition and a new company called Microsoft who seemed intent on cornering the home computer market out performed and out sold them. Apple was also undone by its inability to offer more speed or hard disk space, as all of their software required the use of external floppy disks to store the additional data. During this time, Steve Jobs had left the company over idealistic differences with his co-founder, and the company struggled to keep up with competitors.

Re-birth in the History of Macintosh Computers

Steve Jobs rejoined the company in 1997 and within a year had masterminded the relaunch of Apple as an alternative, rather than a competitor to Microsoft. It started with the all-in-one iMac, which only required a keyboard and a mouse to operate. It was ahead of the game by using CD-ROM technology to install software rather than the industry standard of floppy disk drives.

It was at this stage that Apple users started to appreciate the simplicity of a system where the same company created all the programs for the same operating software. This meant, and still means, that Macintosh users can import files, pictures and audio into all sorts of different programs without the need for different codecs or file extensions, as is the case with Microsoft software.

The modern part of Macintosh history is clear for all to see. The company still specializes in computer technology, but the focus is very much on portable computers rather than desktop publishing. The quest is still for beautiful design with simplistic functionality and each new IPhone, Ipad or MacBook confirms the brand as a global leader in computer technology.

I think we're having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we're always trying to do better.
~Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

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