On May 6, 1998, the all-new Steve Jobs launched the first major consumer product of its second era at Apple. The original iMac was an instant hit that forever changed Apple’s trajectory.
Steve Jobs launched the very first iMac in 1998
“Today, I’m incredibly happy to introduce iMac, our consumer product,” Jobs said on stage at Macworld that day in 1998. “iMac comes from the excitement of the Internet and the simplicity of Macintosh. . “
“Even if it’s a full-fledged Macintosh,” he continued, “we target it for the # 1 use consumers say they want a computer with, ‘to access the Internet simply and quickly. ” Jobs then touted the education product, which was released just before the start of the following school year.
“We think iMac is going to be very important”
In the presentation, Jobs compared the iMac to other computer products on the market at the time, which he mocked as slow, with “shabby screens” and a lack of networking. “And,” he said, “these things are ugly.” Referring to the iMac, Jobs went on to say that “the back of this thing looks better than the front of the other guys”.
Jobs even took Phil Schiller out for a “confrontation” between the iMac and the “new Compaq Presario 4540”, which the Apple product won decisively.
Connectivity, ease of use and product appearance were the subject of a series of television commercials for the product, starring actor Jeff Goldblum:
The first iMac was priced at $ 1,299. It sported a 233 MHz G3 processor, a 15-inch screen and, perhaps most importantly, a colorful, curvy, translucent all-in-one look that was unconventional at the time. It was the first major project for Jony Ive, after he became senior vice president of industrial design in 1997.
“This one is incredibly soft. This $ 1,299 product is faster than the fastest Pentium II you can buy. The market has never had such a powerful and cool consumer computer,” Jobs said. an interview the week of the launch with Lou Dobbs of the CNNFN financial news network. “We have worked hard on fashion, which is very important in the consumer market.”
This sales job worked. The iMac was the best-selling computer of the 1998 holiday season.
Jobs also said in this Dobbs interview that “Apple will work to strengthen its brand name”, and compared Apple to Nike, Disney and Sony. And it seems to have worked: in 2017, Interbrand named Apple the most valuable brand of the year, for the fifth consecutive year.
The design of the iMac changed several times over the following years. In 1999 Apple started to offer the iMac in different colors. The G4 arrived in 2002, with a unique “dome” design, the G3 being abandoned that year.
The G5 followed in 2004 with another form factor: a single plate with a chin.
The next big change to the line came with the arrival of the first Intel-based iMacs in 2006 that retained the form of the iMac G5. The first aluminum iMacs hit the market in 2007.
To date, the name “iMac” is used by Apple for its slim, unibody desktops. The most recent innovations in the range include the iMac 5k, which debuted in 2014, and the iMac Pro, which arrived last December.
At the movie theater
The keynote at which the iMac was introduced was dramatized in the 2015 film “Steve Jobs”, written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Danny Boyle, and adapted from Jobs’ authorized biography of Walter Isaacson.
However, this scene, like most of this film, took a significant amount of dramatic license, as listed at the time by Fast Company: Jobs did not reconcile with daughter Lisa on the day of iMac launch , and he didn’t go into a scream that day with Steve Wozniak, and Jobs wasn’t a “multi-billionaire” either in 1998.
The importance of iMac
The iMac was, in many ways, the logical evolution of the original compact Macintosh that arrived in 1984. Although somewhat radical in design, the iMac represented something of a step forward in terms of design.
In between, Apple had tried several all-in-one Mac computers during Jobs’ years, including the Performa 500 Series and the unfortunate Macintosh TV. But the company did not put everything together before the arrival of the iMac.
The introduction of iMac is an important moment in Apple hi. This happened a year after Jobs returned to Apple following the company’s takeover of its NeXT business; at the time of the presentation, he was still acting CEO. The success of the computer has helped reverse a decade of struggles for the business, leading to the enormous growth of the business after the turn of the millennium.
It also helped to define a model for a long series of products, designed by the team of Ive, which attracted attention with beautiful design. Apple presented the introductory event as “Back on Track”, and it certainly was, although it would take Apple several years to return to major profitability.
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