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24 milestones in the Mac's 30-year history

Ryan Faas | Jan. 27, 2014
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the now-iconic Apple Macintosh computer. Columnist Ryan Faas looks back over the past three decades at some of the highlights and lowlights of the Mac's -- and Apple's -- evolution.

The iTunes Store (and App Store and iBookstore) (2003): The iTunes Store was significant for Apple in many ways and was the vehicle through which Apple transformed the music industry and established the dominance of the iPod. The iTunes Store has repeatedly been expanded, first to sell movies and TV shows, and later to sell iOS apps, ebooks and Mac software. In the process, Apple has revolutionized how we look for and purchase digital content and applications for both mobile devices and desktops. It's a model that's been replicated by virtually every major tech company, including Google, Amazon, Samsung, BlackBerry and Microsoft.

The switch to Intel (2006): In 2006, Steve Jobs introduced first Intel Macs. During the course of that year, Apple transitioned its entire Mac product line to Intel processors, an astounding feat for any company. The transition was generally smooth, thanks in part to a PowerPC to Intel translation feature called Rosetta that allowed users to run their old PowerPC apps on new Intel Macs. One major advantage of the switch was the ability to run Windows and Windows apps on a Mac using either Apple's Boot Camp dual-boot feature or virtualization tools from Parallels and VMWare.

MacBook Air (2008): The MacBook Air remains one of Apple's most popular Macs of all time. The sleek notebook delivers incredible portability and battery life and is partly responsible for the creation of ultrabook PC laptops. In designing the MacBook Air, Apple jettisoned many traditional components, including an optical drive and a built-in Ethernet port (though the company provided USB versions of both). The company also embraced flash storage and developed its own battery design, moves that it later followed with other MacBook models.

Mobility brings more diversification (2007-2010): In 2007, the now-iconic iPhone revolutionized the smartphone market, upending the relationship between hardware makers and wireless carriers. Three years later, Jobs introduced the first iPad, and one again scrambled the moribund tablet market. Though both the iPhone and iPad are offshoots from the Mac, they are as important — if not more so — to the company's bottom line now than the company's traditional Mac line-up. They also mark a continuation of the company's digital hub strategy, since iCloud allows for the sharing of digital content across both mobile and desktop hardware.

The new Mac Pro (2013): At the 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple execs unveiled the new, completely revamped Mac Pro, a small, black, cylindrical desktop machine that makes a sharp break with earlier models. The Mac Pro, which actually went on sale in December and starts at $2999, is aimed squarely at Mac professionals who need the latest, fastest hardware available. It's already proved so popular that delivery dates have been pushed back into March 2014.


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