It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since Mac OS X was released. I wasn’t a Mac user in 2001, but as a tech fan, I followed the release of OS X and the later switch to Intel closely, which was what finally convinced me to buy my first iMac.
Today, with Mac OS X gone and Intel chipsets not far behind, I thought it would be fun to look back at OS X and the transition to it compared to the recent switch to macOS 11 Big Sur. I started by watching Steve Jobs’ introduction of Mac OS X at Macworld Expo in 2000, which was a perilous time for the Mac. The company was just two and a half years into Jobs’ return as iCEO and had recently filled out its simplified product grid, adding the iBook to the iMac, Power Mac G4, and PowerBook lineup.
When Steve Jobs strode onto the stage at the Yerba Buena Center on January 27, 2010, he carried with him the answers to years of speculation and rumors about an Apple tablet. Everyone at the event that day knew why they were there and what would be announced. Jobs acknowledged as much up front, saying that he had a ‘truly magical and revolutionary product’ to announce.
Thanks to the iPhone, everyone at the Yerba Buena Center also had a vague notion of what Apple’s tablet would probably look like. Mockups and phony leaks were all over the web, and tablets weren’t new. Everyone expected a big slab of glass. Beyond that, though, few rumors were in agreement about what the tablet’s hardware specs would be.
It was correctly assumed that Apple’s tablet would fit somewhere in between an iPhone and a Mac both physically and functionally, but where exactly was a mystery. That made the OS and the apps the stars of the keynote and critical to the way Apple’s tablet would be used and how it would be perceived for years to come.
Before Steve Jobs revealed Apple’s new tablet to the world, though, he paused – as is still customary during most Apple keynotes – to set the stage and provide context, which is where I will start too. Ten years ago, the tech world was a very different place, and Apple was a very different company. Not only is it fun to remember what those days were like, but it helps explain the trajectory of the iPad in the decade that followed.
Last summer, Sam Henri Gold uploaded hundreds of images, videos, and other historical Apple material to Google Drive from the company’s earliest days to present. The collection didn’t last long. The flood of people trying to download its contents slowed the archive to a crawl, and ultimately Gold took it down.
The archive is back now at applearchive.org as an ad-free website organized by decade. The collection, which Gold has dubbed The (Unofficial) Apple Archive, includes a wide range of materials from press photos and keynotes to TV ads and Mac wallpapers. There is even a healthy collection of unreleased materials, like this unreleased social media ad for AirPower.
The site includes search functionality that makes it easier to find something specific among the hundreds of items or browse an entire product category. Images can be downloaded from the archive, but to deter downloading of videos, Gold is using a restrictive embedded Vimeo player. The desire to stop downloads is understandable, but it also means that the videos cannot be embedded by others writing about them elsewhere, which is a shame.
Between a Vimeo Pro account and Squarespace, Gold says the Apple Archive costs him about $456/year. Because the site is ad-free, Gold is accepting donations to help defray the costs here. To learn more about the Apple Archive project and the story behind it, check out Michael Steeber’s interview with Gold on 9to5Mac.
Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac has published an excellent journey down memory lane of Apple’s last decade:
Apple entered the 2010s just as the iPhone began to explode in popularity. The iPhone became the most successful consumer product, ever. Sales surged for another five years and still make up a majority of Apple’s revenues. However, we exit the decade with the iPhone making up a smaller portion of Apple’s business than ever before, as the company diversifies into strong lineups of wearables, tablets and services offerings.
But nothing is a simple straight line. Apple had to graduate through the passing of its founder, juggle relationships with an ever-expanding list of consumer and professional market segments, and adapt to the public attention and scrunity that only comes along as a consequence of being the biggest company in the world. This is a decade in Apple, on one page.
Mayo’s first Apple product was an iMac in 2010, so the timeframe of the decade lines up with his own initial interest in Apple, leading all the way to today, when he’s one of the most prominent Apple reporters. I always enjoy reading Mayo’s perspective on Apple, so it was especially fun getting to hear his personal takes of the biggest moments of the company’s past decade. If you want to spend time basking in the nostalgia of Apple’s last 10 years, Mayo’s story is a great way to do that.
The recent iMac updates brought additional power and flexibility to Apple’s all-in-one desktop, but didn’t redesign or modernize the iMac as we’ve known it for many years.
As the 21.5- and 27-inch machines are here to stay for at least a while longer, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the first of their kind, introduced at a press event in October 2012. You probably can’t tell if the press image above is from 2012 or 2019.
In January 2009, Apple took to the stage at Macworld Expo one final time. The company announced the change a few weeks before the show. Phil Schiller would deliver the keynote. News of Steve Jobs’ medical leave would break just weeks later, one day before the keynote.
All of this cast a weird vibe over the event, and while it was far from Apple’s most exciting keynote, it’s worth revisiting Phil Schiller’s three announcements now, ten years later.
In his keynote introducing the switch to Intel, Steve Jobs introduced the weirdest Mac of all time: the Apple Developer Transition Kit.
After announcing the change, Jobs revealed a secret. The Mac he had been using to demo software all morning actually had a 3.6 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor inside.
Needless to say, the crowd went wild.
As a young kid, I thought magnets were about the coolest things ever. Here in my 30s, I kind of feel the same way.
Magnets made nerdy headlines recently, with the new iPad Pro, which is chock-full of them to keep its Smart Keyboard Folio in place. Marques Brownlee had a tweet showing off just how many are in the tablet’s thin chassis:
Apple’s use of magnets in its products goes back further than the most recent iPad Pro, with its keyboard and Apple Pencil, or even the fun and functional AirPod case. Magnets allow Apple to do things without the need of mechanical components, keeping the design of its products clean and streamlined. Here are a few of my favorites over the years.
Apple has just about always offered iOS apps on the App Store, separate from what apps come bundled on its devices from the factory.
Sometimes, these apps get promoted to being part of the iOS image, like Podcasts and iBooks have. Once stuck hanging out on the App Store, they now ship on the iPhone and iPad by default.
A lot of other apps weren’t luck enough to get that lifeline, and have since been removed from the App Store. Let’s take a look at a few examples.