Power Mac G3 Apple A-Z


Following its move from Motorola 68000 chips to PowerPC processors Apple saved us all from annoying product names that mimicked the long-winded microprocessor numbers by lumping together each generation into a simple G designation – so the third-generation was G3, fourth G4, fifth G5… and would have been G6 if the line hadn’t dried up and died.

Previously, we’d had to deal with names like PowerPC 601, 603 and 604e; the G3 started with the 740 and 750 chips, code-named Arthur.

The G3 was first seen in the beige Power Mac G3 series, but became famous as the original processor in the bubble-shaped iMac in 1998. The Power Mac G3 was redesigned in 1999 to look more funky, with the Blue & White Power Mac G3 even displaying the G3 proudly on its side – some people thought the G and 3 either side of the large Apple logo resembled Mickey Mouse ears and reckoned this was a Dan Brown-like clue that Disney was in the frame to buy Apple.

Power Mac G4 Apple A-Z


Before Disney had a chance to act on the Mickey Mouse Code Apple quickly released the Power Mac G4 (code-named Yikes!) in smart graphite and later Quicksilver shades. The original 500MHz top-end Power Mac G4 was struck low by processor supply and error issues that forced Apple to “speed dump” its range by 50MHz, which caused an outcry when the prices weren’t similarly dumped.

Maybe the most famous member of the G4 family was the Power Mac G4 Cube – a thing of design beauty, expensive price tag, low sales and short shelf life.

Power Mac G5 Apple A-Z


2003’s Power Mac G5 introduced the aluminium-meshed casing that Apple still uses today for its Mac Pro range – a look now eight years old, an absolute lifetime in terms of Apple design. It also marked Apple’s move away from Motorola PowerPC chips to those of IBM. On its launch Steve Jobs boasted that the G5 would reach 3GHz “within 12 months”. In fact three years later it had puffed its way to just 2.7GHz – a fact that enraged Jobs so much that he dumped both IBM and Motorola and ran into the welcoming arms of former rival Intel.

Halo Apple A-Z


Apple has tried and failed to get in on the games side of computing several times, most spectacularly on its 1995 Pippin games console it created with Japan’s Bandai – later voted as one of the Worst Tech products Of All Time. Another attempt at gaming domination came when Steve Jobs announced in 1999 a new Mac game called Halo, produced by Bungie. In its inimitable way Microsoft immediately purchased Bungie and made it an Xbox-only game and one of the best-selling ever.

While Jobs was furious with this slap in the face, sources report that he'd turned down the chance to buy Bungie when it was running out of funds to continue development of the game. Microsoft snapped it up immediately, leaving Apple without its much-heralded major games flagship, and rival Microsoft with a massive success to launch the Xbox.

Id Software technical director John Carmack told Eurogamer that Steve Jobs doesn't "deeply get" gaming: “The truth is Steve Jobs doesn't care about games. He's not a gamer”.

Today, however, Apple could claim to its iOS iPhone and iPad devices to be the world’s largest games platform – so it all came right in the end.

Garage Apple A-Z


What is it with Silicon Valley technology start ups and dusty garages? If you didn’t start your computer company in your parents’ garage you a phoney. HP's William Hewlett and David Packard started the craze in the late 1930s, using the Packard family one-car garage in Palo Alto. Presumably old Mr Packard’s auto had to sit outside while his son and pal mucked around with soldering irons, wires and metal cases.

The Ford Motor Company was started in a coal shed, as obviously there weren’t any car garages around before Ford. Walt Disney started his business in his uncle Robert’s garage. Delta Airlines started life out of an old petrol-selling garage.

According to legend HP summer intern Steve Jobs and full-time HP employee Steve Wozniak followed this lead by starting work on Apple in the Jobs family garage. Work actually started in a bedroom at Steve’s adoptive parents’ house at 11161 (now renamed 2066) Crist Drive in Los Altos, California. When the bedroom got too cluttered the pair moved to the garage. Two hairy young men working furiously in a bedroom doesn’t have the tech mythology that a proper garage start up requires.

Steve’s dad Paul Jobs had to shift his beloved car-restoration equipment out of the garage and helped the boys by installing a huge wooden workbench that served as Apple's first manufacturing base.

"It was just the two of us, Woz and me," Jobs later told Fortune magazine when he returned to that garage. "We were the manufacturing department, the shipping department. Everything."

Gassee Apple A-Z


Jean-Louis Gassée was once chief of Apple France, then headed up Macintosh development after Steve Jobs got the push, and finally was in charge Apple's advanced product development and worldwide marketing in the late 1980s.

While Jobs always dressed in trademark jeans and black turtleneck, Gassée was often seen garbed in black lambskin leather jacket and single diamond-stud earring – could you look more European if you tried? Ok, he could have worn a beret.

For all his efforts at Apple – and he’s credited with the less than brilliant decisions to not clone the Mac OS when it was ahead of Microsoft Windows or produce affordable Macs for the masses, as well as producing the ridiculously unportable Mac Portable and starting work on the Newton MessagePad – Gassée really made his mark on the Apple of today by being too greedy. After years of trying to invent its own next-generation successor to the Mac operating system Apple went out looking for one to buy in 1996. Top of the list was the multimedia-friendly BeOS, from Gassée’s Be Inc, which fitted the bill rather nicely. Apple offered him $120m, then $200m but he held out for $400m – which allowed old boy Steve Jobs to slip in and sell Apple his NeXTStep OS as the basis for Mac OS X.

Following the death of Steve Jobs in 2011 Jean-Louis Gasse wisely commented on the fact Apple almost bought his BeOS instead of NeXT: "Thank God that didn't happen."

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs together Apple A-Z


Isn’t it weird that someone called Gates invented something called Windows? Not really. If he’d joined the reformed Doors or been an Olympic fencer, that would have been mildly amusing. He didn’t and he isn’t, so we’ll just have to muse on Bill Gates, the absolute nemesis of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Where Steve is charismatic, good looking, design focused and very, very cool, Bill is, well, not. Steve did it for the pursuit of the most beautiful technological solutions, his love of Apple and a wee bit of god-like glory. Bill did it for the money.

That’s cruel on a person who was for a long time the world’s richest man and founder of Microsoft – two glaring reasons why he’s not considered a likeable chap by most Apple fans (Gates' live onscreen appearance at the 1997 Boston Macworld Expo was greeted with boos that Jobs decried as “childish behaviour” despite his own more than a decade of equally puerile Microsoft bashing).

In fact Bill is rather nice now that he has stopped running a globally ruthless, monopolistic company that bullied a nascent industry into second-rate solutions. His Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation does more good than all the iPhones, iPods and iPads in the world will ever do. And he helped save Apple at its lowest hour by publicly investing in the company and promising to continue developing Office for the Mac when Steve asked him to on his return in 1997. Thanks, Bill.

Genius Bar Apple A-Z

Genius Bar  

Modesty isn’t one of Steve Jobs’ finer virtues. And why should it be. He set up a company that was an almost instant, unique success – that launched innovative products that truly created the personal computer as we know it today; oh, and the smartphone, media tablet, mouse, graphical user interface, CD-ROM drive, MP3 player, online music and app store, etc etc etc. He got booted out. The company nearly died. He came back and saved it. It’s now the number one technology company in the world and one of the largest companies that do anything in the US. While he was not making Apple great he started Pixar, whose movies Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and so on were rather successful, and changed animated movies from simpering airbrush cartoons into something more human, funny and, well, watchable.

So he’s a genius. I think we can all accept that. He’s not Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein. But he’s more clever, more driven and more right than wrong than most of us lot. A lot more.

But are those lanky, semi-bearded, blue t-shirted blokes that stand all day behind an Apple Store counter restoring iPods, blowing fluff out of MacBook DVD slot drives, and telling people that actually their iPhone must have been dropped in a glass of water so that’s why it’s not working, and therefore no, actually, you can’t swap it for one that works… are they geniuses. Probably not.

The Genius Bar logo is even based on an atomic model – like these guys are all Quantum Mechanics postgraduates, rather than weekend musicians. You might expect a Genius Bar to be a place where amazing cocktails are invented or egg heads go to get drunk. No, it’s the place you go to be patronised about how dumb you are not to know how to get that embarrassing DVD out of your MacBook Pro, or have to take back that stupid piece of crap that doesn’t work like they said it would.

The Genius Bar was actually invented as a way – in the aftermath of Apple’s Macworld Expo withdrawal that ended public Steve Jobs keynotes – to continue to allow its users to queue for hours in the vague hope of seeing someone in an Apple t-shirt politely turn them away at the end. Apple users love to queue for a peek at genius. Apple knows this, and offers us countless opportunities to do so. Genius. 

General Electric Apple A-Z

General Electric  

Courted in 1984 by Steve Jobs and John Sculley as potential Apple sugar daddy. (Source: 'Infinite Loop' by Michael S Malone.)

General Motors Apple A-Z

General Motors  

Courted in 1984 by Steve Jobs and John Sculley as potential Apple sugar daddy. (Source: 'Infinite Loop' by Michael S Malone.)

GUI Apple A-Z

Graphical User Interface  

A GUI (pronounced “gooey”) is a user-friendly digital-device display interface typically using images, icons and windows and driven by mouse gestures rather than just text commands and keyboard.

And, while the first and still the best, the Mac GUI is nowhere near the most popular or successful (despite all the worship of the Apple fanboys). That honour goes to Windows. And there are numerous versions of open-source Linux with large installed user bases.

There are claims and counter claims about which was really the first GUI.

Apple got its GUI ideas for the Lisa and later Mac via a visit to the Xerox PARC labs – a hotbed of brilliant innovations that other companies came along to gawp at and then copy before Xerox got round to it. Apple at least gave Xerox a bunch of stock while sauntering off, hands in pockets and whistling while trying not to simply run full pelt back to its own development labs.

Apple even licensed parts of the Mac system to Microsoft for Windows 1.0 but got a bit red in the face when Windows 2.0 included overlapping windows just like on the Mac. Really, what did it expect?

Apple claimed that Microsoft copied the Mac OS as the basis of its Windows operating system, and tried in vain to stop Windows in its tracks. Apple also sued HP for its NewWave software. Of the 189 alleged Microsoft copyright infringements the court ruled that 179 of them were covered by the earlier licence – and the other ten weren’t covered by copyright law. Apple won on just one point: that the NewWave trash can icon looked a lot like the Mac OS one.

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