History of Apple Computers

| | November 8, 2023

The first Apple computer went on sale in 1976 and was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak. Since the release of the first computer, the company has evolved over the years to provide cutting-edge electronic gadgets for creative enthusiasts, educators, scientists, developers, businesses, and the general public around the world.

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Source: PCLiquidations.com

1. Apple I

The first Apple computer, the Apple I, was sold in 1976 for $666.66. The first 50 units were sold to a local computer store. In total, 200 units of Apple I were made.

This model was essentially a circuit board. It had no case, keyboard, sound, or graphics. Computers at the time were sold as kits, but Apple I was a completely assembled board. To make a working computer, consumers needed a power supply transformer, a case, an ASCII keyboard, a power switch, and a video display.

Apple I had a 6502 processor running at 1MHz and 8KB memory. The user needed a cassette tape to save the data, which was the precursor of the floppy disk. It was made up of a single motherboard and fully pre-assembled chips, and the motherboard was made to support CRT TV.

READ MORE: The Genesis of Genius: Unveiling Who Invented Apple and When Was the Icon Created

2. Apple II

Apple II was released in 1977, and it ran at 1 MHz and an 8-bit bus using an 8-bit microprocessor. It came with 4KB of RAM and could be hooked to a cassette tape recorder and a TV. It had numerous upgrades from the previous model, including a case, an integrated keyboard, and expansion slots for floppy disks, among other components. 

Apple II became the first personal computer targeting the consumer market as opposed to business or computer hobbyists. When it was released in 1977, Apple II was retailing at $1,298. It eventually became the first successful mass-produced microcomputer.

3. Apple II Plus

In 1979, Apple II Plus was released as the second model of the Apple II series. It was similar to the original Apple II but had additional features such as better graphics and disk booting capability. It came with 48 kb of RAM that was expandable to 64 KB using a language card.  When it was released it was retailing at $1200. 

It wasn’t the success of the Apple II, though, and it was discontinued in 1982.

4. Macintosh

The first Macintosh was unveiled on January 24, 1984, becoming the first commercially successful PC to feature GUI (graphical user interface), a mouse, and an operating system (System 1, the earliest type of Mac OS). The Macintosh had 64KB of RAM and could support a 256X256 pixel black and white bitmap display. It used a Motorola 6809E processor. It also featured other software programs such as MacWrite (Word processor) and Mac Paint (graphics program). 

It was a major milestone for Apple. In fact, Macintosh revolutionized the computing industry and the entire world. 

All along, Apple had a vision of a low-cost, easy-to-use computer for the ordinary consumer. Lisa was the forerunner of the Macintosh, and it was advertised with Lisa as one family when it was launched. But the Macintosh delivered on Apple’s original vision.

5. Macintosh Classic

The Macintosh Classic was introduced on October 15, 1990, becoming the first Apple computer to sell for under $1,000. It was introduced following the success of the earlier models. 

The specifications of the Macintosh Classic were similar to the earlier versions, including 4MB memory, 512×342 pixel resolution, and a 9-inch CRT display. The company did not make updates using newer technology because it wanted it to remain compatible with the previous models and maintain the price at the lower end. 

However, it had several improvements. This model was much faster and featured a standard 3.5-inch floppy drive. Its production was discontinued in 1992.

6. Macintosh Classic II

Macintosh Classic II was introduced in 1991 and was quite similar to its predecessor, the Macintosh Classic. However, it was significantly powerful and featured a 16 MHz 68030 processor, 9-inch monochrome display, and 2MB of RAM. It did not have an expansion slot, and it was the last Mac to use a 9-inch black and white screen.  

The brightness of the computer could be set from the keyboard using the keys 1-9 to either dim or increase brightness. For instance, if you set the brightness to less than 4, the next startup would revert to 4. It was configured this way so that users would not think their computer was not working due to the dark display.   

Its introductory price was $1,900, and its production was discontinued in September 1993.

7. Macintosh Color Classic

The Macintosh Color Classic, also known as Performa 250, came on the market in February 1993. It was the first color compact Macintosh PC with a small integrated 10-inch display screen with 512×384 pixels resolution. 

The computer featured a 16 MHz 68030 Motorola processor and 4 MB of RAM. Overall, it was designed more like Apple II, with an expansion card to be fitted into the PDS slot. 

This beautiful Mac had a built-in microphone placed in a position that strikingly resembles the modern integrated FaceTime camera. Users could record voice with a click of a mouse. 

At launch, it was selling at $1,389. At the end of 1993, Apple released Macintosh Color Classic II, also known as Performa 275, launched in Japan and Canada. It featured 36 MB of RAM, a 33 MHz processor, and a 32-bit bus. 

8. Macintosh Performa 5200CD

The Macintosh Performa is a family of Apple computers that were released in the 1990s. 

Apple Macintosh Performa 5200CD, released on May 1, 1995, had 8 MB of RAM, a 75 MHz, PowerPC 603 processor, and a 15-inch shadow mask RGB display monitor. It also featured a 790 MB or 1.0 GB hard drive, a TV tuner, and video input. The model had a 32-bit processor and a 64-bit data path. The production of this model was discontinued in February 1996.

9. PowerMac G3 All-In-One

In April 1998, Apple introduced the PowerMac G3 All-In-One. It came in two configurations. One came with a 233 MHz floppy drive and a 4-GB hard drive. The second version was a 266 MHz with a floppy drive, zip drive, and a personality card or all-in-one. The two versions were running on PowerPC 750 G3 processor. 

Most of the All-In-One (AIO) cases were translucent and got the unofficial name of “Molar” because they resembled a human tooth. PowerMac G3 AIO weighed 60lbs and was aimed at the education market. It came with two headphone jacks for sharing in the classroom settings. 

The 233 MHz model was selling for $1,599 when it was launched. PowerMac G3 All-In-One was discontinued in 1999 when iMac G3 was introduced.

10. iMac G3

iMac G3 was the most iconic computer in the Apple line. It was unveiled in August 1998, and it radically changed the consumer tech landscape. 

It was a colorful, curvy iMac that became a staple in the education system for years. When it was unveiled, Steve Jobs described it as better than other PCs in design, speed, display size, and I/O. It featured a 233 MHz, 15-inch, 1024×768 CRT monitor. The iMac G3 also came with a modem, IR port, ethernet port. It did not come with the floppy drive and could only read a CD. Additionally, it had a USB port instead of the legacy ADB. 

At the time, iMac G3 stood out as an elegant and simple computing solution. In 1999, Apple produced five different colors of the iMac G3. Apple upgraded and released iMac G4 in 2002 and iMac G5 in 2004.

11. iMac (Intel plastic)

In 2006, Apple iMac was released, and it featured a 17-inch screen. It was the smallest workstation designed in that year, and it maintained the features of the previous model iMac G5. In addition, this iMac featured an Intel processor, unlike the previous versions that had PowerPC processors. Intel’s Core Duo processor offered about two times the power of G5. 

Additionally, it featured white plastic (polycarbonate) case. This new iMac came with Mac OSx 10.4.4 tiger. 

The following year Apple released the iMac with an aluminum body, and two years later, in 2009, iMac with aluminum unibody was unveiled. In 2012, iMac with a slim aluminum unibody was released. Each model came with improved features (beyond just the body work).

12. iMac (Retina display)

In 2015, Apple released a new version of iMac that came with a 27-inch retina display. It marked a significant update since 2011, and it was sold for $2,500 when it was unveiled. 

The iMac came with a high-resolution retina display, a major new step for the iMac. Retina had been earlier introduced on iPads and iPhones in 2010 and later MacBook Pro in 2012. The Retina 5k display has a resolution of 5120×2880 pixels (14.7 megapixels), making texts, pictures, and icons sharper, and easier to read.

13. iMac Pro

iMac Pro came into the market in 2018, and it was one of the best all-in-one computers in the market. It featured top-of-the-line components and slim chassis. The iMac Pro came with 128 GB DDR4 of RAM and a storage space of 2TB SSD. Additionally, the screen was a 27-inch 5k retina display and a native resolution of 5120×2880 pixels.

Although the iMac Pro appeared like a typical iMac, the internal components were designed purposely for the professionals with hardware of a workstation performance level. It could take more than most people would need for their day-to-day workload with ease. The price was at a premium level, more than most consumers would be willing to part with.

Final Take

Apple computers evolved significantly throughout the years since the 1976 introduction of Apple I with a tiny memory of 8 KB and processor speed of 1 MHz. The company has continued to create some of the most groundbreaking design features that consumers have come to expect on any computer. Throughout the years, Apple computers have been a longtime favorite for businesses, institutions, and home users, and they remain at the cutting edge of the market today.


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