20th Anniversary of the Original iMac

Jason Snell:

It’s hard to believe today that a Steve Jobs product presentation would be met with indifference, but there was a huge amount of skepticism about Apple’s product announcements back in early 1998. Though there were definitely signs that the company was turning it around, I also recall being summoned to Apple product events where nothing much at all was announced. Regardless, only the editor in chief of Macworld, Andy Gore, even bothered to go to the announcement at the Flint Center that day.

As soon as the event ended, I got a phone call — I was working at home that day — and was told to immediately get in to the office, for an all-hands-on-deck meeting, because Apple had announced a new computer that was going to change everything. I have to give Andy credit — the moment he saw the iMac he knew it was going to be huge. We tore up our magazine issue in the matter of about a day in order to get first word about the iMac out to people in the days before instant Apple news was a thing.

Until the iMac was unveiled, the only thing Apple had really shipped in the post-NeXT-reunification era was the Think Different ad campaign. That was a great campaign, but still, mere words, not action. The iMac was the first real product, and it set the stage for everything that has come since. Snell truly captures the significance of the original iMac — the surprise, the controversy, the excitement. This was the moment when Apple truly was back.

A few stats. Max RAM on the original iMac was 128 MB; on today’s iMac Pro it’s 128 GB. Graphics megaflops performance: 60 vs. 11,000,000. It’s almost ridiculous what a difference 20 years makes, but the spirit remains the same.

Sunday, 6 May 2018