Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

Apple Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Steve Jobs Unveiling the iMac

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
51,067
12,619



Today marks the 20th anniversary of the late Steve Jobs introducing the iMac, in what has become a defining moment in Apple's storied history. Apple CEO Tim Cook commemorated the occasion on Twitter today.

20 years ago today, Steve introduced the world to iMac. It set Apple on a new course and forever changed the way people look at computers. pic.twitter.com/GbKno7YBHl - Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 6, 2018

"This is iMac," said Jobs, who had returned to the helm of Apple as interim CEO just eight months prior, after being ousted from the company twelve years earlier. A large crowd erupted with applause at the Flint Center, the same theater where Jobs unveiled the original Macintosh back in 1984.


The excitement centered upon the fact that the iMac didn't look anything like other desktop PCs of the time. This wasn't a typical boxy monitor-and-tower in dull beige. This was an all-in-one machine with curvy, translucent plastic, first in bondi blue, and later in several other colors of the rainbow.


Jobs was as charismatic as always on stage:
This is iMac. The whole thing is translucent. You can see into it. It's so cool. We've got stereo speakers on the front. We've got infrared right up here. We've got the CD-ROM drive right in the middle. We've got dual stereo headphone jacks. We've got the coolest mouse on the planet right here. All of the connectors are inside one beautiful little door here--the Ethernet, the USB stuff. Around the back, we've got a really great handle here. The back of this thing looks better than the front of the other guys, by the way.
iMac was all about getting everyday people connected to the internet. In fact, the letter I in iMac stood for internet, according to Ken Segall, the creative director who came up with the name for the computer. It also stood for individual, instruct, inform, and inspire, according to Apple's presentation.

More importantly, the iMac was a turning point for Apple, a company that had lost its direction by the mid-1990s. Apple was hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, had a bloated product lineup with over a dozen Macintosh models, and seemed to lack a clear plan forward. That is, until Jobs stepped in.

Jobs aimed to simplify Apple's product lineup with a four-quadrant product matrix, with one desktop computer and one portable computer for consumers and professionals respectively. iMac filled the consumer-desktop quadrant.

Jobs in Apple's press release for the iMac:
We designed iMac to deliver the things consumers care about most--the excitement of the Internet and the simplicity of the Mac. iMac is next year's computer for $1299; not last year's computer for $999.

Today we brought romance and innovation back into the industry. iMac reminds everyone of what Apple stands for.
The original iMac pioneered many industry firsts such as USB, FireWire, and quiet fan-less operation, and while the removal of the floppy drive and legacy ports was controversial, the computer ultimately pushed the industry forward.

The original iMac's tech specs:powerPC G3 processor clocked at 233MHz
15-inch display with 1,024×768 resolution
Two USB ports and Ethernet with a built-in software modem
4GB hard drive
32MB of RAM, expandable to 128MB
24x CD-ROM drive
Built-in stereo speakers with SRS sound
Apple-designed USB keyboard and mouse
Mac OS 8.1The strategy was effective, as the iMac kickstarted Apple's return to profitability, just months after it flirted with potential bankruptcy. iMac sales topped 278,000 units in the first six weeks, and in October 1998, Apple reported earnings of $106 million in its fourth quarter, contributing to its first profitable year since 1995.

The naming scheme lived on with the iPod in 2001, iPhone in 2007, and iPad in 2010, products that led Apple to become the world's most valuable company.

The success of the iMac was due in part to a significant marketing campaign developed by ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day. The ads, both in print and video form, focused on the iMac's design and the simplicity of both setting it up and connecting to the internet. A few of the spots featured actor Jeff Goldblum.


A sampling of taglines from the campaign:Yum.
Sorry, no beige.
Chic. Not geek.
High-technicolor.
No artificial colors.
The rebirth of cool.
The most colorful way to the Internet.
Family vehicles for the information superhighway.
The thrill of surfing. The agony of choosing a color.
The most dramatically new Macintosh since the original.In the two decades since, the iMac has undergone several revisions, keeping up with rapid technological advancements. Over those years, Apple's attention to both design and function hasn't wavered.

In 2002, the iMac received its first significant redesign, with a thin flat-panel display affixed to a white semicircular base with a cantilevered metal arm. In 2004, Apple integrated the main logic board, optical drive, and other components behind the display, allowing for a thinner aluminum stand.


In 2007, Apple ditched white plastic and gave the iMac an aluminum enclosure backed by black plastic. A model with a complete aluminum unibody enclosure was released in 2009, and slimmed down in 2012. In 2014, the iMac gained 4K and 5K Retina displays. And, in 2017, the powerful iMac Pro was released.

It is 1998, though, that will always be remembered as the year Apple started a new chapter of success. Happy birthday to the iMac.

Article Link: Apple Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Steve Jobs Unveiling the iMac
 
Last edited by a moderator:

CPark98

macrumors regular
Apr 5, 2016
166
488
I will never forget the first time I used a Mac. I was in kindergarten in fall 2004, and the computer lab was full of 1999 tray loading iMac G3's of all sorts of fruit inspired colors. As a five year old, I was mesmerized that there were computers that were not black or beige. The machines were running Mac OS 9 and I have fond memories of playing Zoombinis, and messing around with Kid Pix. They got rid of the G3's during the summer fo 2005 and when I got back to school only to find a lab of Dell optiplex towers, I was immediately deflated at the thought the machines were scrapped. Those iMacs were magical machines to use and the reason I'm still a proud Apple customer today. Thank you Steve.
 
Comment

jicon

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2004
505
268
Toronto, ON
Quite the good looking machine for the time. However, that mouse... I remember cable modems were just coming to market in my area. Notably poor performance just doing something like web browsing. Maybe that said something about PowerPC? Maybe the fanless design? Anyway, glad to see these machines vastly improve after a few years.
 
Comment

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
11,394
7,785
I'm a rolling stone.
Always wanted an iMac, but couldn't/can't cause I mostly move around the world, therefore I always bought portable ones, first one was a Powerbook G3 Pismo, followed by a PB G4 next a MacMini which stays at one place and then the MBP which I use now.
Great hardware overall, the Pismo lasted for 8 years mostly in humid and hot Indonesia until it finally gave up after ~20.000 hours, YES Twenty-thousand hours.
 
Comment

The Cappy

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2015
366
637
Dunwich Fish Market
Quite the good looking machine for the time. However, that mouse... I remember cable modems were just coming to market in my area. Notably poor performance just doing something like web browsing. Maybe that said something about PowerPC? Maybe the fanless design? Anyway, glad to see these machines vastly improve after a few years.
Ah yes. That mouse. Trivially easy to replace. Your point? The PowerPC was very fast. Remember we're talking about the intro of the iMac. The PowerPC at that time was faster than intel's offerings. Any poor performance browsing was due to the browser. Remember which one? Internet Explorer. That was the reason Apple had to make Safari. So remember to place blame where it was due.
 
Comment

groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,249
1,063
Jobs aimed to simplify Apple's product lineup with a four-quadrant product matrix, with one desktop computer and one portable computer for consumers and professionals respectively. iMac filled the consumer-desktop quadrant.

RIP Steve. Apple isn't the same without you. Current Apple claims to continue Steve's memory but in no way follows a simplification of the line-up, and neglected Mac Pro, and Mac Mini line-ups.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.