Jason Snell: ‘The Mac Turns 40’

Jason Snell, writing for The Verge:

Twenty years ago, on the Mac’s 20th anniversary, I asked Steve Jobs if the Mac would still be relevant to Apple in the age of the iPod. He scoffed at the prospect of the Mac not being important: “of course” it would be.

Yet, 10 years later, Apple’s revenue was increasingly dominated by the iPhone, and the recent success of the new iPad had provided another banner product for the company. When I interviewed Apple exec Phil Schiller for the Mac’s 30th anniversary, I found myself asking him about the Mac’s relevance, too. He also scoffed: “Our view is, the Mac keeps going forever,” he said.

Today marks 40 years since Jobs unveiled the original Macintosh at an event in Cupertino, and it once again feels right to ask what’s next for the Mac.

The subhead on Snell’s piece at The Verge nails it:

Apple’s longest-running product is an increasingly small part of the company’s business. And yet, it’s never been more successful.

Over at Six Colors, Snell has more from an interview with Greg Joswiak, and, separately, a deep dive looking back at the major eras of the Mac’s history, dividing them by processor architecture. From that piece:

The IBM PC and the emerging DOS PC clone standard weren’t the only enemies here. Plenty of other platforms existed in the early days, including the one that generated most of Apple’s revenue, the Apple II.

History tends to flatten everything into simple narratives, so you might expect that the moment the Mac was introduced, Apple began pivoting away from the Apple II. That did not happen. Apple didn’t discontinue the last Apple II model until nearly a decade into the Mac’s existence. After the Mac was introduced, Apple kept introducing new Apple II models: The compact IIc three months later and the 16-bit IIGS more than two years later.

The Mac was a curiosity for me, growing up in the 1980s — intriguing, but it was the Apple II platform that had my attention (and heart) at the time. Then, when I finally got my first Mac in 1991 (a Macintosh LC with 4 MB of RAM and a 40 MB hard disk), I got it. It was like turning on a light in a dark room. I finally understood.

Wednesday, 24 January 2024