Happy birthday to the computer that started it all. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say restarted it all. The year was 1998. With Steve Jobs’ return and a lifeline from frenemy Microsoft already behind them, Apple had at least stopped the bleeding and pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy. Next they needed a new, defining product to change the public’s perception of the company and get Apple back on the path to profitability.
So what did Steve Jobs do? He turned Jony Ive and his team loose and they delivered a computer unlike anything we had ever seen- a stylish, translucent all-in-one machine that dropped the outdated Floppy Disk and embraced USB. In an age populated with a million variations on a beige box, this computer was fresh and completely different.
Another element that set the iMac apart was price. Starting at $1,299, it was on the expensive side for its time. However, that didn’t make a difference. The iMac sold, and sold well. It was the first hint that people were willing to pay more for cool and interesting design. Not just the rich and famous- they always have. Apple was able to bridge the gap to become an aspirational brand that could tap into the mainstream, despite costing more.
Once the iMac hit the market, the dye was cast. By 1999, Apple was back in the black and profits were rising. This was the first hit of many. The one that got the ball rolling again and helped to kick off Apple’s long climb to the top. It also re-asserted Steve Jobs’ marketing and branding genius by making Apple a force to be reckoned with for a second time. The profits from the iMac helped to fund all of the great products that followed it.
It’s interesting to note that the iMac is still with us today, and shows no sign of slowing down. While other Mac models like the Mini and Pro have long languished, the iMac is still the primary Apple desktop machine, and continues to be updated regularly. It has set the standard for all-in-one computers since its release, and its amazing displays, slim build, and new Pro version show that there is still plenty of life in Apple 2.0’s oldest star.
Here’s to another 20 years of the iMac!