Mac OS X was the biggest switch in the Mac’s history, according to 63 per cent of Macworld Online readers in this week’s poll (2,419 polled).

Next with 20 per cent was the groundbreaking design of the original iMac. The launch of the Power Mac, incorporating IBM’s PowerPC processor, received the votes of 11 per cent.

Less popular choices were System 7 (3 per cent) and the switch to USB (2 per cent). Just 1 per cent selected Other – with the return of Apple founder and current CEO Steve Jobs being a popular alternative option highlighted in the forum.

One reader explains why he selected Mac OS X as the most significant switch. "Mac OS X was a huge leap forward (and backwards as Unix has been about for years). After its still-born attempts like Copland this was finally the move Apple had needed since the mid-Nineties. There was so much of the toolbox that dated back to 1984, it needed a shift like this to move the OS on."

Another notes: "OS X marked a major transition for Mac users in that it put unparalleled power and security into the hands of users and set standards that the rest of the industry have still failed to match several years on."

One reader suggests that the switch to Mac OS X may have saved Apple. "If Apple had not developed Mac OS X I would have switched to Windows. I have no fond memories at all of OS 8/9, but I will gladly forget those days now thanks to OS X, which so far has been a great experience, especially with Panther."

Mac OS 8 is the reason why one reader thinks the true significance of the PowerPC launch is not appreciated. He explains: "I think any advantage Apple got from the PowerPC launch was lost in the subsequent few years of OS 8 hell.

"Every Mac owned by somebody else I encountered would have a messed up system and apps and random files all over the place, most people weren't savvy enough to keep the system running smoothly and had a bad experience as a result. I used to spend more time optimizing my Mac's system files and tidying up file type associations than I did actually using it for anything useful."

Bondi buzz

One reader chooses the original Bondi Blue iMac as his biggest switch. "It was the right piece of design/packaging at exactly the right time to make a statement and to kick-start the interest in Apple. The positive buzz that gave Apple, has helped them to continue to be revolutionary with their subsequent designs, both hardware and software," he explains.

Another reader agrees: "It has to be the iMac. It put the cool back into Apple and raised its public profile hugely. It showed the industry that computers weren't just gray or beige boxes."

"The launch of the iMac marked the start of the public's awareness that Macs were technically innovative and had exceptional design qualities," says another.

Readers agree that the iMac started a trend in the computer industry that saw a move away from the standard beige boxes. Similarly one reader opines: "The incorporation of USB set trends that the entire industry would follow."

Another major switch for Apple that one reader brings up was the decision to leave out the floppy drive. He says: "That was very brave."

But the alternative switch option that most forum entrants seem to be behind is the return of Apple founder Steve Jobs who became CEO in 1997.

One reader explains: "The actual biggest switch in the Mac's history was when Steve Jobs returned. He reworked Apple into something that that was more than just a computer company. Nobody else could have achieved what he did."