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.
We are used to a fall release schedule when it comes to iPhones, but that hasn’t always been the case. The first four iPhones came out in the summer, usually after being announced at WWDC.
2011’s iPhone 4S changed that for good, and in some ways that phone draws parallels to the new iPhone XS. Both are the second generation of a radical new design, and both boast improved cameras, networking, and battery life. That’s not to mention how Siri is at the heart of the iOS version they both ship with.
Steven Levy spent more than a year talking to past and present Apple executives and employees about the company’s former headquarters at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California. As Levy describes it:
Infinite Loop was the place where Apple’s leaders and engineers pulled off a historic turnaround, and it will always be the source of stories and legends—many of them untold. Until now.
It’s hard to pick among the anecdotes in Levy’s history, but one of my favorites is this from Phil Schiller because it captures the tough choice that had to be made when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and his empathy for customers:
Schiller: We’re like, “Steve! Newton customers are picketing! What do you want to do? They’re angry.” And Steve said, “They have every right to be angry. They love Newton. It’s a great product, and we have to kill it, and that’s not fun, so we have to get them coffee and doughnuts and send it down to them and tell them we love them and we’re sorry and we support them.”
There are fascinating details about Apple’s history in Levy’s piece that you won’t find anywhere else, and he’s done an excellent job weaving them into a cohesive, chronological narrative that shouldn’t be missed.
Every so often, an Apple I comes up for auction. The number still in circulation is small. Even rarer are working Apple Is. Next month, auction house RR Auction will sell a working Apple I that’s been rated 8.5/10. The computer, along with peripherals and the original manual, is expected to fetch around $500,000.
Earlier this summer, I had the good fortune of seeing a working Apple I in person during a trip The Henry Ford Museum with Stephen Hackett who donated his collection of iMac G3s to the museum. In person, it’s hard to grasp that the Apple I’s simple circuit board covered with neatly organized, hand-soldered chips played such a critical early step in the history of personal computing.
More interesting to me than the auction though, is a video that the auction house put together to promote the sale, which dramatically pans around the Apple I’s surface revealing the smallest details. It’s a fantastic close-up of a significant piece of computing history that is far closer than you’ll ever be to one in a museum.
You can learn more about the Apple I in this excellent feature by Communications and Information Technology Curator Kristen Gallerneaux on the Henry Ford Museum’s website.
For years, iLife defined the Mac experience, or at the very least, its marketing. An iMac or MacBook wasn’t a mere computer; it was a tool for enjoying your music, managing your photos, creating your own songs, editing your home videos, and more.
iLife was brilliant because it was approachable. Programs like iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand were so simple that anyone could just open them from the Dock and get started creating.
Of course, not everyone’s needs were met by the iLife applications. iMovie users could upgrade to Final Cut, while Logic was there waiting for GarageBand users. And for those needing more than what iPhoto could provide, Apple offered Aperture.