In-depth

Top 10 moments in Mac history

It was 25 years ago that Apple released the original Macintosh – we take a look at the major moments in the history of this iconic computer.

This is really the one that started it all. Long before the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone became household names, there was the Macintosh.

The Macintosh was a revelation in terms of bringing computers to the masses. It's now hard to think of a Mac without a graphical operating system but before the Macintosh, even Apple's computers just had basic text input.

It might have been a small beige box with a 9in monochrome screen but in terms of hardware, it was ahead of its time. Its use of a 32-bit chip made it more powerful than existing 16-bit designs by several orders of magnitude, though its initial complement of 128Kb of RAM proved to be a bottleneck, leading to an upgrade to 512Kb a year later.

The $2,495 Mac was just successful enough to pave the way for a series of successful products that has led the way to today's iMac and Macbooks.

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So let's take a trip down memory lane.

1. Jobs and Wozniak meet

It was in the summer of '69 that Steve Jobs and Steve Woziak first met through a mutual acquaintance. They might have looked very different in appearance, but they shared more in common than just their first names a deep fascination with electronics. They started working together creating a legally dubious product that enabled users to make phone calls without having to pay AT&T bills. After going separate ways they reformed their partnership in 1975, establishing Apple Computer in 1976.

2. Apple visits Xerox PARC

In December 1979 Steve Jobs and other Apple employees were granted three days of access to Xerox Alto, whose Xerox PARC research team had come up with the concept of the graphical user interface, complete with the desktop metaphor, controlled through a mouse. These totally revolutionary concept bamboozled the execs at Xerox who rejected it out of hand, but in exchange for shares in Apple, it was willing to show the technology off to Jobs - who immediately saw that this was the future of computing. It took five years, but on 24 January 1984, the Macintosh was launched.

3. Superbowl '1984' advert

In 1984, to launch the Macintosh, Steve Jobs and Apple chief executive John Scully wanted to do something special. They chose to run a commercial at half-time at that year's Superbowl, the biggest sporting event of the year in the US.

The Ridley Scott directed advert had deliberate overtones of George Orwell's book [1984 and depicted a woman, representing the Macintosh, running through a crowd of automatons and hurling a large hammer into a large screen on which Big Brother' is speaking to the masses. The ad ended with the words, "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."

It's now considered a masterpiece of advertising and two years ago was named the best Superbowl ad in the 40-year history of the game. It also established the SuperBowl half-time spot as a major event in-and-of itself, giving Apple an unlikely place as part of sporting history - you can watch the 1984 ad here.

4. PageMaker

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One of the main advantages of the graphical user interface was that it enabled documents to be represented on screen. The Mac shipped initially with just MacWrite and MacPaint, leaving some to dismiss the computer as no more than a toy. A year on though, Aldus released PageMaker for the Mac, introducing the concept of desktop publishing.

It helped demonstrate the advantages of the Macintosh, and along with QuarkExpress and Photoshop, helped establish it as the platform of choice for creative types.

5. PowerPC processors

The original Macintosh was powered by a Motorola processor, but in 1994 Apple moved to the RISC based PowerPC architecture, co-built by Apple, IBM and Motorola known as the AIM Alliance. By contrast, Microsoft had become firmly entrenched with Intel, and was bolstered by the release of Window 95 and the Pentium processor that gave PC, a similar GUI to Apple on powerful hardware. The PowerPC vs Intel architecture battle was a key part of the endless Mac vs PC debate in the 90s.

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