An Enduring Apple Theme: Celebrating the Mac's Inner and Outer Beauty

Back in 1986, the NeXT corporation was working to fit the best possible UNIX workstation into a black, one foot cube. To celebrate their achievement, using Surface Mount technology, NeXT developed a promotional video showing the manufacturing process. It's probably no coincidence that Apple's recent Mac Pro manufacturing video bears a remarkable resemblance. Comparing the two videos is fascinating.


One of the enduring Macintosh themes has been the elegant marriage of inner beauty, the motherboard design and technology, combined with the outer beauty that has always been a hallmark of the Macintosh. This theme has deep roots, going back more than 30 years.

For example, when Steve Jobs was promoting the NeXT black cube, a UNIX workstation, the company developed a video showing how the motherboard was fabricated. Reminiscent of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, the mesmerizing dance of robotic machinery assembling the electronics was put to classical music. (Shazam couldn't identify it for me.) Narration was added to bring context to the technical wizardry.

Here's that video by NeXT.


Note how, at the very end of that video, the motherboard is shown as it neatly slides into the black cube, with the implicit message that this sophisticated piece of Surface Mount electronics is about breathe life into the pleasing outer form of the black cube.

Recently, Apple produced a similar video showing how the late 2013 Mac Pro is manufactured in Austin, Texas. Compare the previous video to this one:


The narrator starts: "At Apple, manufacturing and design are inextricably linked. To make a product as advanced as the Mac Pro, we had to pioneer entirely new processes." Once again, the dance of robotic machinery is set to classical music as a celebration of design essentials.

That fundamental statement about Apple's design philosophy, integrating the inner and outer design, as we see in this Mac Pro video, has roots that go all the way back to Steve Jobs at NeXT and very likely even before that to the 1984 Mac and even to how fussy Steve Jobs was about the case design of the original Apple II.

It's not surprising that these two videos are so similar, and it's not surprising at all that, from time to time, Apple reminds us that the company celebrates the eloquent integration of the inner hardware, which we only generally see in the Mac Pros, and the outer design aesthetics. It's just one more reason why customers love their Macs.


My thanks to one of TMO's regular readers, who wishes to remain anonymous, for pointing out the NeXT video to me.