Ten years ago Apple debuted its revolutionary iMac. The colorful all-in-one computer--with its sleek gumdrop design, obsessive attention to aesthetic details, careful focus on ergonomics, simple user interface, integrated software, and built-in modem, USB, and Ethernet connections--ushered in the modern era of internet-ready computing.
The iMac was the first major new product from the company following the return of co-founder Steve Jobs. It proved so successful that while Apple lost $878 million in 1997, by the end of 1998, it had turned a profit of $414 million. The company has never looked back--the iMac itself has become a cultural icon and Apple an undoubted industry leader in innovation, product design, and software innovation.
The computer has since undergone a number of revisions, such as a switch to a lamp-like configuration in 2002 (still my favorite because of the infinitely adjustable screen), followed by a flat, rectangular shape in 2004. Apple has also switched from PowerPC chips to Intel processors, and ditched much of the plastic once used in preference of aluminum and glass. Operating systems have progressed through many versions, from Mac OS 8.5 to Mac OS X 10.5, and rumors hint that future iMacs may soon incorporate touchscreens.
I was an original Mac user--back in the paleolithic era of desktop computing. I loved my first few Macs but eventually I became a very reluctant convert to the PC/Windows world when compatibility issues forced my hand. But with the return of Jobs, the debut of the iMac, and the advent of OS X, those issues were erased. I was delighted to be able to return Apple. My current MacBookPro and iPhone combo provides the most incredible working environment I've ever seen--bar none.