Many of you are reading this on a Mac. Many of you know the history behind it, too: nearly 20 years ago, during the SuperBowl, a commercial depicting a woman armed with a hammer that she hurls at the face of conformity in the form of Big Brother (which was a thinly-veiled reference to IBM). That was Appleis symbolic take on the world of computing as the announcer intoned, "And youill see why 1984 wonit be like i1984i."
The announcer got it almost right; not only was 1984 not like "1984," every year since has seen profound changes in an industry that is both inexorably linked to change and stoically resistant to it, all because of a computer called the Macintosh.
On January 24, 2004, the Mac will be 20 years old; it remains to be seen how Apple will celebrate the occasion, but birthday wishes are already starting to come in. For instance, Forbes has posted a great iHappy Birthdayi article, giving a brief history of the Mac from its uncertain early years to its current brawny/brainy iteration. From the Forbes article, Happy Birthday, Mac!:
Great design is not just about surfaces; it runs from deep function through outside aura. Engineers felt inspired by the guts of the first Mac, and its close ties of hardware and software that have always made it far easier to configure and upgrade. Ordinary users fell for touches like the smiling Mac icon that came on as the computer warmed up, as if the machine was relating to you, promising to be along in a minute. They liked the straightforward shape, with a desktop terminal almost the same length and width as a piece of paper. Marketers were spellbound by the first Mac ad, that famous "1984" spot where the sprinting woman threw a hammer through Big Brotheris (read: Big Blueis) droning rant. It showed nationally once, but it still elicits passion.
One more thing about great design: It comes from a single vision, not a committee. The PC is Microsoftis operating system, Intel chips and a bunch of stuff from nameless factories in Taiwan, all hung together. It is a committee product. The Mac, even with chips manufactured by other sources, comes from a few people at Apple, sharing a common vision.
Most of the Macis life, whoever was on team Mac could count on Steve Jobs standing behind them, telling them that their latest idea sucks, ranting that theyill have to do better. Love the guy or hate him, we have all benefited from his tyranny.
Check out the full article at the Forbes Web site; itis a great read.