Apple Mac turns 30: Take a look at the iconic Mac computers from the last three decades

Know your iMac from your Color Classic? We look at the extraordinary evolution of the Macintosh desktop computer

Steve Jobs 1970s

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak work on Apple 1 in the 1970s

On the 24th of January, 1984, the first Apple Mac computer was unveiled by Steve Jobs. This new compact personal computer was designed to liberate computer users from the hegemony of the world-dominating IBM brand, and with the Mac’s launch ad, Jobs attempted to show why 1984 wouldn’t be like George Orwell’s dystopian novel of the same name.

“It is now 1984. It appears that IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, after initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future and are turning back to Apple as the only force who can ensure their future freedom,” Jobs said before unveiling the Macintosh 128k computer.

So, as Apple turns 30, we take a look at their iconic designs over the last three decades.

Macintosh 128k

Mac 1

Macintosh 128k

The first Apple Mac, known simply as the Apple Macintosh, the 128k is the original beige portable personal computer, complete with a carrying handle on the top. Scroll down for a video of a rather cool looking Steve Jobs introducing it.

Macintosh XL

Mac 2

Macintosh XL

The Macintosh XL, was not an unqualified success. It was released in 1985, and was a rebadging of the poorly selling Lisa machine. However, interest picked up and Apple was unable to keep up with orders. Despite its success, the XL was discontinued because essential parts had not been ordered by Apple. When the parts ran out, production ceased.

Macintosh Colour Classic

Mac 3

Macintosh Color Classic

In 1993, Apple introduced its first colour compact computer. It had an integrated 10 inch display, and the design harked back to the first Macintosh. The combination of a relatively low-cost colour display and a high degree of compatibility with earlier models was designed to help Mac users make the transition to a colour computer.

Power Macintosh series

Power Mac

Power Macintosh 5500

Introduced in 1995, the modern looking Power Macintosh series of computers. The all in one design featured a 15 inch monitor.

Twentieth anniversary Mac

Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh

Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh

The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh was unveiled not to mark the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, but of the Apple company. The limited edition personal computer was released in 1997, and cost $7,499. It was the first of the Apple line up to dispense with the beige design and look towards the future of computing. It was also among the first desktop computers to use an LCD. It also featured a snazzy vertically mounted CD drive, and custom made Bose speakers.

iMac G3

iMac G3

iMac G3

The first use of the now ubiquitous lowercase “i”, was when Apple introduced the translucent-plastic cased iMac G3. The industrial design, credited to Sir Jonathan Ive, instantly made the computer a design classic. It was released in May 1998 and production continued until 2003. It was the first computer to come with USB slots as standard.

iMac G4 series

iMac G4 Sunflower

iMac G4 Sunflower

Following the success of the iMac G3, the iMac G4 launched in 2002. The computer had a flat panel LCD screen mounted on an adjustable arm atop a hemisphere. Apple marketed it as having the flexibility of a lamp, and was given the nickname the iLamp.

iMac G5 series

iMac G5

Original iMac G5

The distinctive slab design of the iMac G5 made its first appearance in August 2004. Two inches deep, and available in mighty 17 and 20 inch versions, the G5 was a revolutionary design, resembling a slightly thickened desktop LCD flatscreen.

Aluminium iMac

Mac Aluminium

Aluminium iMac

In August 2007, the iMac series was redesigned with an aluminium, glass and plastic case. The 17 inch model was removed from the line-up, and a 24 inch version was introduced. There is only 1 screw visible on the entire computer, and it is hidden away at the base, for accessing the memory slots.

Video: Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh 128k in 1984


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