Apparently, today is the 30th year since the Macintosh computer was introduced. All over the internet was a big masturbatory fest over this great achievement. Honestly, I don’t really give two shits. Quite frankly, I don’t think that it really changed everything and anything – similarly I don’t think that the iPhone did. In both of these cases the technology had been in the market, it just required the right type of interface or marketing. It’s well known that there were a lot of similarities between the work that was being done at Xerox PARC and at Apple. In fact, Steve Jobs went to visit and learned a lot about what the computer gods of Xerox were doing. Did he steal ideas from there? No, but I’m sure that his ideas were enhanced and improved because of his visit. Similarly to the way that his ideas were enhanced and improved by all the competition to the iPod including the Palm Pilots, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and so on.
Apple was the first to market for really easy to use printing interfaces as well as type faces. However, at the same time that Apple came out with their product, Adobe was developing their similar product which was a spin off from Xerox. Similar, Microsoft Office was developed by an ex-Xerox employee.
Did the Macintosh change things? It’s likely from a design perspective more than anything as both Windows and Apple’s operating system were similar to the Xerox operating system. What happened, why did Apple succeed and change things and not Xerox? Because Xerox didn’t know what to do with what they had. Apple, coming from a different perspective, different cost structure and different corporate culture, was able to move into the market with only competition from IBM. IBM was a business first company and didn’t really understand the market they were helping to develop. This is why IBM wasn’t able to dominate the market the way they did in the minicomputer and mainframe days – in fact, IBM has completely exited the x86 market. Because of IBM’s business decisions we now have Microsoft and Intel (and others of course).
We idolize the great personalities and the beginning of a new technology. But the movement and technology wasn’t created by Apple even though they get the credit. Apple did do great work, they helped to shape an early portion of the computer age, but the introduction of a specific product only notes a specific point in the total arc of that technology. Computers went racing on by, new ways to interface with computers have emerged and were even invented before the Macintosh was released.
The Macintosh was certainly was a high mark at the time and was a great introduction to many people to the greater opportunity of computing. It allowed more people to access computers. I know that I used a version of Macintosh while I was growing up in elementary school, however at home we never owned a Mac, we only ever owned PCs while I was growing up. The Mac was already on the way out by the early 90s, which at the time was fairly fast, considering the quick ramp of computer since then.
Should we honor the Mac? No more than we should honor the first Palm, Blackberry or Android phone. I fully expect the iPhone will be honored as much or more in 3 years when the iPhone hits ten.