Long before the huge success of the iPhone, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy. The turnaround came with the return of founder Steve Jobs – and a revolutionary computer. Today he is 20 years old.
Without this computer, the iPhone might never have been invented. Twenty years ago today, when Steve Jobs introduced the first iMac, the world’s most valuable company today was on the brink of bankruptcy. The brightly coloured iMac turned the corner – and changed our view of computers forever.
At that time computers were still grey or beige boxes, pure tools instead of lifestyle products. The colourful iMac broke with everything you knew before. It was colourful, partially transparent – and concealed all the hardware in the housing of his screen. The first, held in the blue shade of “Bondi Blue”, seemed like science fiction at the performance. That wasn’t a coincidence. According to the Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, Jobs asked during development what a computer would look like in the future series “The Jetsons”.
Science Fiction on the desk
The case designed by today’s head of design Jonathan Ive based on this idea set standards, the whole industry suddenly built colourful and transparent computers and peripheral devices. The computer has gone from being a hidden device under the desk to a cool eye-catcher. And Apple has gone from being an almost forgotten tech dinosaur back to a trendsetter.
With iMac, the computer has finally become a lifestyle object. The device was not only visually but also technically courageous. It was the first mainstream computer to dispense with the floppy drive despite a price of DM 2999. An outrageous measure at this time. Instead, Apple relied entirely on CD-ROM and the then-new USB standard.
Simplicity as a sales guarantee
In addition to the stylish case – Jobs boasted that his computer was prettier from behind than the competition from the front – Apple mainly marketed its ease of use. For example, one commercial clip showed one user building an iMac and another user building a PC. While the iMac only needed power, a network port and a USB connection to the keyboard and mouse, the PC user had to struggle with the page by page instructions and cable clutter. The less nice side effect: Because Apple had removed many interfaces, old printers and other devices did not work with the new Mac. Similar to what happened with the iPhone when the jack connector was painted.
The I as an emergency solution
Apple should also use this name as a signal for future devices. The distinctive, lowercase “i” was Apple’s trademark for a long time, from the iPod to the iPhone. According to Jobs’ presentation, the “i” stood for a whole series of terms, such as the Internet, individual, inform and inspire. In fact, however, it was only an emergency solution. Jobs actually wanted to call the computer “Macman”. In fact, another company had already patented this name, probably it was better that way.
iMac was the turning point in an extremely difficult time. After founder Steve Jobs was forced out of the company in 1985, Apple simply could not find its way back to success. One flop chased the other, the vision and courage for something new were missing. When Jobs was called back in 1996 as a last resort, it was a simple desperate measure. With the launch of the iMac on May 7, 1998, all this was forgotten. Apple was back.