It’s hard to avoid the news that today is the 30th birthday of the Macintosh computer. If you’re not sure what a Macintosh computer is, consider the iPad or iPhone that you’re probably reading this article from. The Macintosh, now shortened to iMac, is the grandparent to everything major that exists at Apple today. It is the computer that changed the world of computing forever. Put in a quick search on LinkedIn or any technology blog and you’ll find countless stories of how this shoebox-sized computer changed people’s lives.
If you know me, you know that I’m not particularly fond of Apple. I own an iPad mini, but any respectable web designer should know what the sites he develops look like on an Apple device. Other than that need, I carry no allegiance to the Apple of today. I’m also particularly disappointed to see that the innovation that once was is there no longer (and will need to make a return if Apple hopes to survive another disruption like the one Google caused with Android).
While I did not personally own a Macintosh, Apple did play an important role in my early development. However, that early, shoebox-sized, all-in-one computer with the early GUI and wonderful little pixel-art program made a huge impact on the way the world works today. Apple had, in the release of the Macintosh, managed to bring a computer to market that made the idea of personal computing accessible.
Prior to the Macintosh, PCs (then known as IBMs & IMB Compatibles) were unfriendly to the average user. They had a text-based interface, known as DOS (Disk Operating System), the use of which required you to memorize hundreds of commands and syntax rules. They were frightening to the average American, and it was only geeks like me (who used one for many years after the release of Windows 3.5) who could really move around in them. Apple released the first consumer-facing personal computer with a GUI (the Apple Lisa system, Xerox Alto computer, and a few others were available in research settings). Suddenly the world had access to the finer functions of technology, and they used it to make waves.
It’s hard to believe how much has changed since 1984. That’s right, the Macintosh computer was released when I was only a year old. And here, 30 years later, the legacy it has created has been an important part of why I am in business today. So, I say to the Macintosh, happy birthday, and thanks for the legacy you left behind.