Two reports have appeared in today's Times reflecting the 20th anniversary of the Mac. The first examines the impact of the Mac at time of launch, but concludes that, using the analogy of Big Brother portrayed in the first Mac advert, Apple is unlikely to "smash" the Big Brother of today's world – Microsoft.
The second report looks at the cult-like devotion of Mac users, describing it as a revolutionary machine, but suggests that Apple made an error by binding its system software to its own hardware.
Discussing the legacy of the Mac, reporter Chris Ayres explains: "The Mac was priced out of the reach of most families at $2,495 (£1,399), yet it transformed the fledgling personal computer industry. It also proved that those with the best ideas do not always succeed."
He goes on to say: "The Mac was the first computer that users fell in love with. The reason was its revolutionary “graphical user interface”, which allowed users to click on graphical icons with a mouse instead of having to input raw code, as they had to with the 1981-vintage IBM PC."
But, according to the report, programmers "balked at having to rewrite all their code for the system". This resulted in a lack of Apple Mac software, and is a problem that has "dogged the company ever since".
Other achievements outlined include the popularization of the mouse, and the use of windows.
The Cult of Apple
According to the second report, most accepted that Apple users "constitute something very close to a cult".
"Some have replaced their social life with evenings in front of the screen eating pizza."
But the report concludes that the Mac "deserves the devotion it attracted". Claiming: "It was a superb machine which revolutionized computing, bringing closer the dream of “appliance computing”, computers that, like fridges and televisions, could be taken out of the shop, plugged in and used by someone without training."
And, perhaps most importantly, "it helped to shape the computer market, forcing Microsoft to create more user-friendly products."
The report goes on to suggest, like the other Times article, that "Apple made a huge error back in the early 1980s by tying its operating system software to Apple hardware." At the same time Microsoft was allowing other companies to license its operating system and build it into their computers. "The result," according to the article: "Microsoft’s Bill Gates is a billionaire while Apple sells niche products."
But the report grants: "Surviving for 20 years in the computing market is a considerable achievement." And goes on to say that if Apple can maintain its “outsider image” while hatching plans to dominate the personal stereo market: "Pulling that off would be even cleverer than building a Mac."