G3 The G3 became famous as the processor in the original bubble-shaped iMac in 1998. The Power Mac G3 was itself redesigned in 1999 to look more funky, with the blue-and-white semi-translucent 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. Obviously, it wasn’t.
G4 The Power Mac G4 was turned out 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 ‘cost dumped’.
G5 2003’s Power Mac G5 introduced the aluminium- meshed casing that Apple still uses today for its Mac Pro range. 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”. Three years later it had puffed its way to just 2.7GHz – a fact that so enraged Jobs he dumped both IBM and Motorola and ran into the welcoming arms of former rival Intel.
Games Apple has tried and failed to get in on the games side of computing several times, most spectacularly on the 1995 Pippin games console. It was voted as one of the Worst Tech Products Of All Time. Today, however, Apple could claim its iOS iPhone and iPad devices form the world’s largest games platform – so it all came right in the end.
Gassée 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 of Apple’s advanced product development and worldwide marketing in the late 1980s. While Jobs always dressed in jeans and black turtleneck, Gassée was garbed in black lambskin leather jacket and single diamond-stud earring – could you look more European if you tried?
But 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.
Gates Bill Gates is the antithesis of 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 (his live onscreen appearance at the 1997 Boston Macworld Expo was greeted with boos that Jobs decried as “childish behaviour”, despite his own 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 & 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/begged him to on his return in 1997. Thanks, Bill.
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 store, 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 the second most valuable company (beaten only by oil giant Exxon Mobile) 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 often right than wrong than most of us lot. A lot more.
But those semi-bearded, blue-T-shirted blokes that stand behind the Genius Bar counter restoring iPods, blowing fluff out of MacBook DVD 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 even has a logo based on an atomic model – like these guys are all quantum mechanics postgraduates, rather than jobbing weekend musicians. 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.