The Mac Turns 30: Inside the Incredible Evolution of Apple’s PC
By: Yohana Desta
The almighty Apple Macintosh turns 30 years old on Jan. 24.
Over the years, the popular computer has been molded into many shapes and sizes, constantly in redesign mode. Championed by the revolutionary Steve Jobs, Mac computers have risen to the top of the food chain, one of Apple’s many landmark achievements. These days, most Mac computers are sleek and slender, sporting a crisp display and a variety of different size options.
Though Apple has released hundreds of models over the years, we highlighted some important inventions that truly exemplify how far the Mac has come. See the remarkable evolution of the personal computer.
In 1983, Apple debuted its first model, the Apple Lisa. The computer took more than three years to make, and around $50 million to develop. Named after Steve Jobs’ daughter, the computer was quite pricey, clicking in at nearly $10,000 (about $25,000 by today’s standards). The high price tag repelled most consumers, and the computer sold poorly.
Though not technically a Mac, the Lisa nonetheless influenced the first Macintosh, which Jobs debuted on Jan. 24, 1984. (More on that later.)
2. Macintosh XL
In order to ramp up Lisa sales, Apple redesigned the model in 1985, renamed it the Macintosh XL and lowered the price to $3,495
3. Macintosh 128K
Introduced in 1984, the 128 model was the first true Macintosh personal computer, and retailed for about $2,495. With its 9-inch screen, 128K of RAM and “easy to use” accessibility, the Mac was off to a robust start.
4. Macintosh 512K
Released right after the 128, the 512 was virtually the same, but had four times more memory.
5. Macintosh Plus
Enter 1986, when the Macintosh Plus emerges into the market. It had 1MB of RAM and cost about $2,599. It also came with an SCSI port, which meant users could install external hard drives.
6. Macintosh Portable
The first battery-powered Mac creation entered the arena in 1989. It was considered fast for its time, operating at 16 MHz. Though it was quick, the Portable sold poorly and weighed nearly 16 pounds.
Ah, that’s better. The Powerbook came out a few years later, in 1991, and was Apple’s first true portable computer, thanks to its lightness. The floppy disk drive was a separate, external entity. The line had staying power, continuing until 2006. (For Sex and the City buffs, Carrie Bradshaw penned most of her numerous columns on the Powerbook’s G3 incarnation.)
Look at this pop of color. The iMac debuted in 1998 and was one of Apple’s first big projects after anointing Steve Jobs its CEO. Translucent and brightly colored, the iMac was a stylish step above its predecessors, and did away with floppy disk drives, opting instead for USB ports.
9. iMac G4
The iMac G4 marveled tech lovers with its flexibility and flattened shape. Because of its thin neck, the screen could be pulled forward and swiveled around. The 2002 creation literally had audiences gasping during Steve Jobs’ keynote.
Apple trotted out the new MacBook in 2006, noted for its built in “iSight” webcam, crisp and glossy LCD screen and integrated keyboard.
11. MacBook Air
The holy grail of modern day MacBooks, the Air is Apple’s sleekest invention, touted as the world’s thinnest notebook (due in part to the removal of the CD/DVD drive). Jobs unveiled it in 2008, and the line has continued to pump out redesigned and updated models. The original had an 80GB hard drive and bright LED backlighting.
12. iMac today
Thinner and larger than past models, the modern iMac features a slender screen and a detached keyboard and mouse. The most recent 27-inch version sports a lighting-fast Intel processor and Fusion Drive data storage, which combines a traditional hard drive with Flash storage.