Happy Birthday, Mac!

American Icons, Featured Article, History, Trivia
on January 20, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

From the days of programing whizzes working in their basements to the technology boom of the late ‘90s and ‘00s to the portable device that plays music, games, and surfs the Internet, the personal computer has evolved many times since its earliest days. In honor of the Macintosh’s 30th anniversary, take a look at how personal computing has changed in the three decades since Steve Jobs introduced the world to Mac.

January 24, 1984 — Apple Macintosh
Two days after the historic “1984” Super Bowl ad, Apple Computer released the first personal computer, Macintosh for $2,495. The Macintosh was a revelation in the computing world for its use of an intuitive and inviting Graphical User Interface (GUI) and mouse. Xerox had implemented similar techniques in their early computers, but Apple’s machine made it accessible and affordable.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 logo

Microsoft Windows 1.0 logo

November 20, 1985 — Microsoft Windows 1.0
Not to be outdone, Microsoft released its own GUI operating system the following year. Windows applications like Paint and Write and the system’s ability to multitask across different programs and windows made it an efficient competitor.

1985 — CD-ROM Introduced
Setting the standard for portable data storage for the next decade, the CD-ROM allowed people to easily install and use video games, listen to music and access programs.

Mosaic 3.0 running on Windows XP

Mosaic 3.0 running on Windows XP

1992 — Mosaic Browser Makes the Internet User-friendly
After CERN’s Tim Berners-Lee developed the idea of the World Wide Web in 1991, students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created the first web browser, Mosaic, with clickable links and scrollbars. Mosaic later became Netscape.

america-online-logo1995 — AOL.com Launched
Founded in 1985, America Online and its memorable “You’ve got mail” message soon took a large market share of Internet users in the United States. Through their seemingly unending mailings of CDs with the newest software and extra hours, AOL created an online community for people who were not computer savvy. The service provided email, games and chatrooms.

google logo1998 — Google Founded
While working as PhD Students at Stanford, Sergey Brin and Larry Page create what is now the world’s most used search engine, Google. Google won the “search war” and became a media and data giant.

Related: Meet the Google doodlers!

October 25, 2001 — Windows XP
Windows XP, Microsoft’s first consumer-oriented operating system, proved to be one of their most successful. Despite being over 10 years old, XP, which focused on user experience, retained a large amount of market share, only falling to its later successor, Windows 7, in 2009. Windows Vista, which came between XP and 7, was a commercial and critical failure.

June 29, 2007 — The iPhone
The power of a computer in your pocket. Though many companies — notably Palm — had worked to create an easy-to-use portable device for checking email and surfing the web, Apple’s iPhone perfected the smartphone into what it is today.

Third Quarter 2008 — Laptop Shipments Eclipse Desktops
Heralding the move to more mobile computing, for the first time ever, laptop shipments outpaced desktop shipments during this fiscal quarter. This was aided by the introduction of super-lightweight “netbooks” like the Asus Eee PC in 2007.

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San Francisco on  January 27, 2010.

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San Francisco on January 27, 2010.

2010 — Tablets and the iPad
Tablet computing had long been a science fiction pipe dream or a clunky specter of what efficiency could have been, like Microsoft’s too-heavy 2000 Tablet PC. Apple’s iPad, however, redefined mobile computing by providing a larger display and workspace for doing actual work. Users could surf the web, write documents and send email with the swipe of a finger. Tablets continue to boom, with myriad new models being produced each year. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, introduced in 2012, was designed with touchscreens and tablets in mind.