August 1998: Way back when, Apple invented a business version of the Apple II. The Apple /// was an incompatible bust in both its original 128 KB incarnation and the later 192 KB version. It didn’t quite kill Apple.
A few years later, Apple tried the business market again, this time with something called Lisa. But in 1983, few people were willing to spend $10,000 for it, despite the powerful 5 MHz 68000 CPU, high capacity floppies, innovative graphical user interface, mouse, and 12″ screen. Again, it didn’t quite kill Apple.
Steve Jobs masterminded taking most of the Lisa ideas and repackaging it as a $2,500 computer called the Macintosh. With a tack-sharp 9″ screen, an 8 MHz 68000, and a 400 KB 3.5″ floppy, and just 128 KB of RAM, it didn’t quite kill Apple, either.
- Remember: Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Within the year, Apple was selling a 512 KB version of the Macintosh, which gave it enough RAM for serious work. In 1986 it introduced the Mac Plus with a SCSI port, RAM expandable to 4 MB, and the LaserWriter PostScript laser printer. The Macintosh gamble began to pay off.
But Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 to create the next generation computer. The NeXT cube was a gorgeous 12″ by 12″ by 12″ box with a 25 MHz 68030 CPU, a 2-bit 17″ gray-scale monitor on rollers, and an optical drive instead of a floppy.
Those who used the NeXT often fell in love with its NeXTstep operating system. Mac magazines would compare NeXT computers head-to-head with Macs – and sometimes declare the NeXT the winner.
But compared with Apple’s market share, NeXT was a blip on the screen.
It’s ironic that Apple chose NeXT as the foundation for its first modern OS, getting Steve Jobs in the bargain. And although Apple’s OS plans have changed several times in recent years, Steve Jobs may yet save Apple.
- Unlike either of them, the iMac enters a market where software already exists.
There are tens of millions of practically rabid Mac lovers awaiting the August 15th North American roll-out of the iMac. They’re reading Mac magazines, surfing the internet, and talking iMac with their friends. Not only the general media but even Windows magazines have noticed.
Apple expects to sell up to 1,000,000 iMacs by the end of the year. Apple dealers are planning all sorts of special events for the iMac introduction. And Mac lovers are putting down deposits to secure their own iMac – even if it doesn’t have a built-in floppy drive, a SCSI port, or an expansion slot (or does it?).
While the Macintosh nearly killed Apple and NeXT barely survived, the iMac symbolizes Apple reborn.
Thanks, Steve Jobs. Looks like third time’s the charm!