Apple Lisa introduced
The Lisa was the first broadly available personal computer to have a mouse and graphical user interface, and was based on concepts developed by Xerox at its Palo Alto research centre, which several Apple engineers visited. However, it was costly compared with other personal computers. The Lisa's asking price of $10,000 doomed the product commercially, and left Apple searching for a cheaper way to make a GUI-based system.
The Macintosh arrives
Apple's first Mac was a much simpler and less costly product than the Lisa, although it incorporated many of the same user interface concepts. It used an 8MHz Motorola 68000 processor with 128Kb of memory and a single 400Kb floppy drive for storage. An upgraded model with 512Kb memory came later.
1985: Steve Jobs leaves Apple
Following a disagreement, Jobs left Apple to found NeXT Computer, developing Unix-based workstations with advanced graphics capabilities. This would later influence the birth of OS X.
The MacPlus boosted memory further, supporting from 1MB to 4MB. It also introduced a SCSI port, enabling external hard drives to be added, and a new floppy drive storing 800Kb per disk. The MacPlus was supported by applications such as versions of Microsoft Word and Excel, and Aldus PageMaker. Desktop publishing would become the backbone of Apple's user base for years.
Macs get expandable
Apple introduced the Macintosh II line, the first to feature expansion slots for plug-in cards such as graphics adapters. Many of these came in a desktop case with a separate display, rather than the all-in-one design of earlier Macs, and a built-in hard disk.
First portable Mac
The Macintosh Portable was Apple's first attempt to build a mobile Mac. It weighed 15.8lbs (7.2kg) and used lead acid batteries for power. Although sales were disappointing, it was one of the first computers with an active-matrix TFT LCD screen, which provided a much sharper image than existing technology.
Although they were not the first portable systems from Apple, the 1991 release of the PowerBook 100 and 140 models set the standard for what has become Apple's iconic notebook line. The PowerBook's light, simplified design, trackball mouse system and back-end keyboard placement created a foundation for notebook design that still exists today. Three years later, the line was updated with trackpads and a slimmed down case-design.
The Power Mac era
By the mid-1990s, Motorola's 68000 chips were falling behind rivals such as those from Intel. Seeking a replacement, Apple partnered with Motorola and IBM to create the PowerPC processors. It produced the Power Macintosh range using the chips, which continued in use until 2006. Apple also introduced the Performa series, sold largely through third-party retailers. These did not sell well and were soon discontinued.
1997: Steve Jobs returns
Jobs returned to Apple when the company acquired NeXT Computer. Later in the year, he was made chief executive and began restructuring the company after it posted crippling financial losses. Among his first moves was to arrange a $150m investment deal with Microsoft. Criticised at the time, the deal secured the first Macintosh port of Microsoft Office, and helped Apple escape its financial woes.
With the iMac, Apple introduced a new low-cost line of Macs that returned to the all-in-one design concept of its early products and featured a translucent casing. These proved a success, partly thanks to the attention Apple paid to making it easy for users to get up and running with the system.
2001: OS X arrives
The Mac OS was looking increasingly outdated by the turn of the millennium. Apple developed a successor around a Unix-based kernel with a new graphical user interface and a Classic environment that enabled customers to continue to run older applications. In the same year, Apple also introduced its first iPod music player, a product that has arguably become better known than the Mac.
2002: OS X 10.2 ships
Codenamed 'Jaguar', this upgrade came with performance improvements and an instant messaging client called iChat.
Although the iPod was already available, it was only in 2003 that the online store enabled users to purchase and download music from the internet. Many observers claim that a 'halo effect' boosted Mac sales because of the positive experience many users have had from their iPod and iTunes. Also in 2003, Apple released OS X 10.3 'Panther', with the Safari browser and greater compatibility with Windows networks.
2005: Tiger roars
OS X 10.4 'Tiger' introduced a number of prominent new features, such as the Spotlight desktop search tool, Dashboard for add-on widget applets, and Automator, a visual front-end for scripting system tasks.
2006: First Intel-based Macs
Citing disappointment with the progress of the PowerPC processor chips from IBM, Apple switched to Intel Core Duo processors. By the end of 2006, every Mac model was Intel-based. 2006 also saw the launch of the MacBook, which came in a white casing, distancing it from the standard grey or black laptop brigade. The MacBook was an immediate hit with the public for its sleek design and widescreen display, and the various models have proved a huge success for Apple.
Apple moves into smartphones
Buoyed by successful sales of the iMac and iPod, Apple introduced a smartphone based on a version of OS X. The iPhone proved very popular, particularly in the US. Apple also released OS X 10.5 'Leopard', with support for both Intel and PowerPC Macs, and Boot Camp support to allow Windows to run on Intel Macs.
: Macbook Air introduced
Early in the year, Apple launched the MacBook Air, a laptop it described as the world's thinnest at less than 2cm. Later, the company released an updated version of the iPhone, adding support for the higher download speeds of 3G mobile networks.
2009: The future?
Later this year, Apple is expected to release the latest version of OS X 10.6, codenamed 'Snow Leopard'. This will feature out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange servers, better support for multi-core processors, and OpenCL, a tool to enable developers to make use of the processing power of the system GPU.
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