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Posts tagged with "Apple history"

The Verge Marks the iMac’s Silver Anniversary

Yesterday, the iMac turned 25, and The Verge had an excellent trio of articles, plus a visual history, covering the computer’s impact on Apple, the computer industry, and culture.

The series includes a look back at the introduction of the iMac in 1998 by Jason Snell and the many controversial design choices the iMac introduced like foregoing a floppy drive and including USB-A ports. The iMac also introduced color and transparency to consumer electronics that spread throughout the gadget world, but I agree with Jason’s take that the most important contribution of the iMac was that it pulled Apple back from the brink of financial disaster:

[P]erhaps the iMac’s strongest legacy is Apple itself. The company was close to bankruptcy when Jobs returned, and the iMac gave the company a cash infusion that allowed it to complete work on Mac OS X, rebuild the rest of the Mac product line in the iMac’s image, open Apple Stores, make the iPod, and set the tone for the next twenty five years.

The Grape iMac.

The Grape iMac.

Alex Cranz looked at how Apple marketed the iMac to college students at the turn of the millennium to build a foundation of life-long customers:

When it launched the iMac, it also launched a then exorbitantly pricey marketing campaign focused not just on traditional Mac owners but also students. “Being the first computer truly owned by a student entering college gives a company like Apple tremendous brand leverage over future computer loyalties,” Laine Nooney, a computer historian, professor at New York University, and author of The Apple II Age: How the Computer Became Personal,told me over the phone. “That marketing isn’t just paying for a couple of years of sales… it’s helping create a generation of users.”

The M1 iMac.

The M1 iMac.

However, as important as the iMac has been to Apple historically, the lack of an update in over 800 days can’t be overlooked. The iMac’s role in Apple’s lineup is a shadow of what it once was. The Verge’s Monica Chin’s contribution to the site’s series wonders aloud what’s next for the all-in-one desktop:

The iMac was once the computer that everyone I knew had on their desk. That is now, without question, the MacBook. The laptop, as a category, has come so far and permeated culture so thoroughly in the past two decades that it’s hard to see any desktop — regardless of its purported numbers — as a mainstream option. I wouldn’t be surprised if, like the Mac Studio, the iMac leans more into a niche over the next few years. Maybe that’s offices that want a beautiful setup. Maybe that’s people with yellow bedrooms. 

Or maybe it’s the high-performance space. If there’s an opening in the market for a premium desktop like the Mac Studio, I don’t see why there’s not a larger one for a premium iMac. It could essentially be a MacBook Pro with a much larger built-in screen than any MacBook Pro can provide. Plus, maybe this one could also come in yellow.

My first Mac was a white plastic Intel-based iMac. I also owned an early aluminum model. However, other than testing a loaner M1 iMac, my Apple desktops in the years since have been Mac minis and my current Mac Studio paired with a MacBook Air for on the go.

I guess I’m part of the problem. I love the simplicity and elegance of the iMac, but the power and modularity of the Mac Studio paired with a laptop fit my needs much better these days. Still, my sense is there’s room for both a consumer-level iMac that serves as a shared family computer or a simple space-saving desktop solution and a more powerful, big-screen iMac for tasks like photo and video editing.

Rumors point to an iMac refresh this fall, so the drought should be over soon. I just hope what Apple introduces takes some chances aimed at broadening the iMac’s user base beyond where it is today.

Stephen Hackett Announces Kickstarter Campaign for His 2024 Apple History Calendar

Today, our friend Stephen Hackett launched a follow-up to his successful series of Apple history calendars with a campaign on Kickstarter. This year’s calendar features more of Stephen’s excellent photography, along with notable dates in Apple’s services and retail history.

Here’s what Stephen has to say about this year’s calendar:

The calendar features my own product photography of Apple products, with each month highlighting some of Apple’s services and retail announcements over the years. Each calendar measures 20 inches by 13 inches (50.8  x 33.02 cm) when it’s hanging on your wall with a simple thumbtack or pin.

You can watch Stephen’s announcement video here:

You can also read more about the campaign, which has already reached its goal, on Stephen’s website, 512 Pixels.

In addition to the wall calendar, Stephen has created a digital wallpaper pack for backers who pledge $5 or more. If you pledge $10 or more, you get the wallpapers and a .ics file version of the calendar. Pledge $36, and you’ll add the physical calendar and pledge $40, and you’ll also add four stickers.

The hard work and care that have gone into each of the prior editions of the Apple History Calendar show and make this year’s version a great purchase for any Apple fan, whether that’s you or a friend. I can’t wait to see the images and events Stephen has collected for 2024’s calendar.


Steve Jobs Archive to Release Digital Book of Materials Drawn from Jobs’ Life on April 11th

Today, the Steve Jobs Archive said it will publish a digital book called Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in his own words on April 11th. The Archive, an online repository of historical material from Steve Jobs’ life, was announced at the Code Conference last fall.

According to the Archive’s website, the book will include:

A curated collection of Steve’s speeches, interviews and correspondence, Make Something Wonderful offers an unparalleled window into how one of the world’s most creative entrepreneurs approached his life and work. In the pages of this book, Steve shares his perspective on his childhood, on launching and being pushed out of Apple, on his time with Pixar and NeXT, and on his ultimate return to the company that started it all.

Featuring an introduction by Laurene Powell Jobs and edited by Leslie Berlin, this beautiful handbook is designed to inspire readers to make their own “wonderful somethings” that move the world forward.

The title of the book is drawn from a Jobs quote of something he said in 2007 at an internal Apple meeting that’s featured on the Archives’s website:

One of the ways that believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there.

According to an email sent by the Archive to subscribers to its mailing list, the book will include familiar sources as well as photos and quotes that have never been published before.

News of Make Something Wonderful was a great way to start a Saturday morning. I’ve always found Jobs’ musings on art and building things inspiring, so I can’t wait to read this book.


The Mac’s 30th Anniversary Icon Font Shared As SVG Images

In 2014, for the 30th anniversary of the Mac, Apple celebrated with a mini site featuring the stories of the people behind the computer and its users. As part of that event, Apple created a special font of line-drawn versions of every Mac from its introduction on January 24, 1984 through 2014.

Robb Knight, my co-host on the Ruminate podcast, has had that font sitting on his Mac for years until yesterday when he released it as a series of downloadable SVG images with the help of friends Keir Ansell and Josh Calvetti.

The Mac's 30th anniversary website.

The Mac’s 30th anniversary website.

I love this sort of project. The line drawings of these Macs look great and, as SVGs, are suitable for a wide range of projects. Robb has a long list of other interesting projects worth checking out on his website, including Alfred workflows, a Mastodon bookmarklet, a Mac utility to eliminate trackers from URLs, and a set of tools for to name a few.


Stephen Hackett Announces the 2023 Apple History Calendar

Today, our friend Stephen Hackett launched a follow-up to his successful 2021 Apple hardware calendar campaign on Kickstarter. This year’s calendar features more of Stephen’s excellent product photography along with notable dates in Apple’s software history.

You can watch Stephen’s announcement video here:

and read more about the campaign on 512 Pixels.

In addition to the wall calendar, Stephen has created a digital wallpaper pack for backers who pledge $5 or more. If you pledge $32 or more, you get the wall calendar, wallpaper pack, and a .ics file for importing Apple’s software dates into a calendar app. Pledge $38 or more, and you’ll get stickers too.

Stephen’s been working hard on this project for a while now. I’m really looking forward to seeing this year’s photos, which are a great way to show off his collection of Apple hardware, and browsing through the dates he’s compiled for this year’s calendar.


Michael Flarup Announces The iOS App Icon Book

Source: Michael Flarup.

Source: Michael Flarup.

Four years in the making, designer Michael Flarup has launched a Kickstarter campaign to finalize, print, and ship The iOS App Icon Book.

Source: Michael Flarup.

Source: Michael Flarup.

As Flarup explains, the iPhone sparked a golden era of icon design. The iOS App Icon Book is a 150-page art book that traces the history of iconography on iOS, with full-color, detailed reproductions of some of the best icon work from the past decade. In addition to the artwork, the book also includes a primer on Flarup’s approach to icon design and profiles of leading icon designers. The book traces the evolution of notable icons too.

Source: Michael Flarup.

Source: Michael Flarup.

The book is also meant to preserve the history of iOS iconography. As Flarup explains, the history of iOS icons is:

A history that is quickly fading. Many apps featured in this book aren’t around anymore or have evolved — which means the work we’ve been doing to capture this artwork have borded on internet archaeology. If we don’t preserve these things now, while we still have the opportunity to, they will be gone forever.

Flarup says the book is about 90% complete and should be finished by late January 2022, with the final product shipping in April 2022.

I’ve been following Michael Flarup’s progress on The iOS App Icon Book since its earliest stages, and I’m excited that it’s nearly finished. Icons are an important piece of iOS history, and I can think of no better person to chronicle its evolution.


Stephen Hackett Launches Vintage Apple Hardware Calendar on Kickstarter

Late yesterday, our pal Stephen Hackett launched his first-ever Kickstarter: a wall calendar featuring his stunning Apple hardware photography. You can watch Stephen’s announcement video here:

The 20”x13” 2022 calendar features product photography shot using hardware from Stephen’s extensive collection and marks important milestones in Apple hardware history alongside the usual holidays. Backers who pledge $30 will receive the calendar, but there are also options for a set of digital wallpapers featuring the photography used in the calendar for $5 or more and the wallpapers plus 4”x6” prints of the photos for $16 or more. You can pledge $42 or more to get everything too.

It’s been fun to watch Stephen put this project together over the past few weeks, and it’s a fantastic way to show off his collection of vintage hardware and the photography he’s done over the years. Digital calendars are great, but they can’t brighten up your room like these wonderful photos will.

20 Years Ago, Mac OS X Set the Stage for Today’s Apple

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.

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The iPad at 10: A New Product Category Defined by Apps

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.

Source: The Verge.

Source: The Verge.

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.

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