Apple At 40: 12 Products That Changed Computing Forever - InformationWeek

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4/3/2016
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Apple At 40: 12 Products That Changed Computing Forever

Apple reached its 40th anniversary this month, no mean feat in a tech industry littered with the names of long-gone giants. Here's a look at the 12 products that defined the company, and changed what we know as computing in the process.
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(Image: Aleksandar Nakic/iStockphoto)

(Image: Aleksandar Nakic/iStockphoto)

Apple celebrated 40 years of existence on April 1. It's a significant anniversary in any industry (and the ruby anniversary, if you're a traditional sort), but it's especially meaningful in an industry like computers. The list of companies that have come and gone since April 1, 1976, is long and contains names that were once absolute titans of the industry.

Apple's survival was not always a given. There have been several points in its history at which it was all but given up for dead by industry pundits. Even now, when it remains one of the larger corporations on the planet, there are plenty of people scrambling to be the first to write its obituary.

An anniversary like this is replete with publications writing about the major milestones in the company's history, and who am I to buck a trend? Instead of looking at major moments, though, I thought I'd look at 12 major products that have defined the company's history. Each has had a role to play in making the company what it is today.

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My goal here isn't to catalog every product Apple has released, or even every product that has had (or could have) a major impact on the company and its customers. There have been storage products and networking products, lots of software, and even complete platforms (Apple Watch) that aren't here.

Check back in another 10 years to see whether the world has changed enough to warrant their inclusion.

Many of us in the industry can define our personal computer use either by the Apple products we've used, or the Apple products we've reacted to by turning solidly to something else. I can't claim I was along for the Apple ride from the time of the Apple I, but I envied the Apple II and was at the Boston Computer Society in February 1984 when the Macintosh came out of the bag. I have my set of memories around Apple products -- what are yours? I would love to hear your memories -- and I promise to share some more of mine in the comments section below.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
4/8/2016 | 8:34:36 AM
Apple's innovation remains alive
Curt,

Thank you for this round of Apple products. All of them have contributed in one way or another to the evolution of software, harware, and innovation in computers and other devices. 

Apple will never stop to innovate. People who demand a totally new product each year are wrong. Innovation doesn't work that way. Continuously improving devices and keeping a strong security are valid to me to show that, in my opinion, Apple products are the best.

Who determines the ratio innovation-time? And why? You read complains, but never reasons and explanations. The process of innovation takes time, analysis, testing, and involves even more than that before a new product can be launched to the market. 

It's a bit of a shock to realize that this year marks the fifth anniversary of Steve Jobs's death. Time really flies. 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
4/8/2016 | 6:04:41 AM
Auto-save would be useful
Curt, 

Do you know what InformationWeek needs? Auto-save. It's not such a big deal when you have to rewrite a line or two when your post has disappered. But after investing about 45 minutes in thinking and writing a quite long comment to lose it right before clicking on "post" button you wonder if you were able to reproduce just the same. 

I'll try. I'll try after a cup of tea. :( Sorry. I needed to vent this little frustration. 

-Susan 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/7/2016 | 8:37:43 AM
Re: School computer
I'm not going to go as far as saying that it had to be Apple in order to pull that off though.  I died of dysentery equally on Macs and PCs during my library time.  I think it was very forward looking for Apple to put roots down into the public school systems when typing classes were still a regular part of the school day but I don't think that much of their fan/user base now has any memories of the brand that predates the iPhone.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2016 | 10:06:30 AM
Re: School computer
Hold on to their share, and also help to introduce and educate entire populations of kids to computing of various types. 

Remember the early Apple IIs had Joy Sticks for games and programs.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2016 | 9:57:17 AM
Re: School computer
Those little boxes kept Apple in the public school system for decades.  I was at my kids' school last year and their library still has the original iMac G3s for kids to surf the web on.  It's amazing how being first to the market allows you to hold onto your share.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2016 | 9:53:25 AM
Re: School computer
Apple 2 s  were all over NYC schools in the early 80s. They were so cumbersome, but the students liked them, learned, and they were teachable machines. Clunky, but solid.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2016 | 8:42:01 AM
Re: School computer
Sounds like we had similar experiences with the ][ e, I had access to an IBM PC at home and the ][ e at school.  Maybe I was already conditioned to swapping floppy disks to run applications and the OS so that didn't bother me so much.  

I think when you Apple today you have to look at OSX and the iPod as the products that reshaped the company.  Apple went from a niche in the class room to a niche in the A/V and design world to the corporate desktop in short order when the iPhone tool hold and OSX was mature enough to run inside the company walls. 

 
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
4/5/2016 | 7:20:51 AM
School computer
I learned Logo on the Apple ][ e in high school. Back then I noticed that Apple's stuff was cumbersome and expensive. The ][ e costs twice if not thrice as much as a C64 despite having similar hardware. The biggest annoyance was that after turning the ][ e on absolutely nothing happened. You had to have a floppy with the OS in the drive and then wait until the OS booted up. With the C64 you flicked the power switch and were ready to go.

I guess in the end it did not matter. Apple is still here and Commodore is a distant memory, although my C64 still works as well as it did on the day I got it.
JohnG94002
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JohnG94002,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/3/2016 | 7:23:08 PM
System 6
I survived System 6!
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