If you grew up in the 80’s one of your earliest video gaming memories was probably playing Oregon Trail on an old Apple II or Macintosh, but you haven’t experienced Oregon Trail until you’ve played it on a 27-inch Apple Cinema Display. In color.
When you’re one of the closest things the programming world has to a rock star, you might assume that — when the time comes to pass your godly coding powers onto the next generation — you’d hand your offspring a brand new iPad and a crash course in the likes of Swift: the insanely popular state-of-the-art iOS language unveiled at last year’s WWDC.
Try telling that to John Carmack! The legendary coder behind the smash hit games Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake (today working at Oculus VR) recently shared a picture of his young son’s home computer lessons. Carmack’s choice for suitable hardware and software? BASIC on the 1984-era Apple IIc.
Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak revolutionized the computer world with the invention of the Apple II, but back in 1977 when they created the unbelievably simple home PC, few people realized the enormous impact it would have on the “small computer field.”
Case in point, look at this article from the Homestead High School newspaper talking about its alumnus’ new company Apple Computers, in a ‘aww isn’t that cute, they sold 200 computers’ sort of way. The article above was published in the The Epitaph on May 20th, 1977, just a few weeks before the first Apple II units went on sale, and went on to become the first computer to sell 1 million units.
At the time of publication Apple had just moved out of the garage and into an office in Cupertino with eight total employees. One of Apple’s first employees, Chris Espinosa was still in high school at the time and was interviewed by the paper for the article on Jobs and Woz’s new company. Along with revealing that you used to be able to get Apple’s top software engineer to build you a custom app to do whatever you want, the high school junior presaged the idea of a Genius Bar, decades before the first Apple Store opened.
With today’s tech devices becoming obsolete so quickly, it’s easy to think older models are forgotten by their creators the moment a follow-up rolls off the factory floor.
While this may be true in some instances, it’s apparently not the case for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. In a recent email exchange with a vintage computer expert, Woz revealed that almost 40 years after the Apple II shipped he still agonizes about ways it could have been improved.
Steve Jobs packed an almost impossible number of innovations into a 35-year career. While we've been forced to leave out some as a result, here are 9 ways that Jobs changed computing forever -- and a glimpse at what things may have looked like had he never come along.
Before: Personal Computer
1974's MITS Altair 8800 was the personal computer that started it all for a generation of techies. It was hardly the most accessible machine to ever come out of a garage, however.
After: Personal Computer
The Apple II Plus, on the other hand (seen here with the Disk II and Monitor ///) was a machine that not only outperformed many of its rivals at the time, but felt approachable to an outsider.
Before: Desktop Publishing
How an ad, magazine, or other document was put together in the 1970s. Get ready with the scissors, glue and marker pens.
Photo: Hemmings Daily
After: Desktop Publishing
The combo of PageMaker and Apple's 1985 LaserWriter printer gave people the ability to design, lay out, edit and print professional-looking pages from the comfort of their own home.
Before: User Interface
Not only did interfaces like the MS-DOS feel cold and uninviting to newcomers, they essentially forced users to adapt to the computer's way of doing things.
After: User Interface
The Mac, on the other hand, empowered the user with the sovereignty to carry out tasks as they wanted to. The Mac may not have been the very first computer to feature a Graphical User Interface, but it was the first one most people saw. And it did it better than anyone else.
After: Digital Music Players
The iPod really is the little device that could. It turned around Apple's fortunes, became one of its most iconic tech designs ever, and was transformed into a byword for any new technology that was (or hoped to be) innovative, stylish and ubiquitous. It sounded great, too.
Photo: Chris Harrison/Wikipedia
Before: Digital Music Players
Before Steve Jobs, digital music players were good ideas in theory, bad ideas in practice; the kind of expensive gift you used once then put away to gather dust. This blobby model was the Creative NOMAD Jukebox.
Before: Online Music Stores
Okay, so as a free way to download music Napster wasn't exactly a store, but it was certainly what most people considered the online music experience to be until iTunes came along.
After: Online Music Stores
Steve Jobs was convinced he could get young people to pay for their music if only he could provide an experience that was enjoyable and convenient enough for them. iTunes proved that he could. Even before the iPod came along, the first version of iTunes received a massive 275,000 downloads from Mac users in its first week.
Steve Jobs referred to these devices as the "usual suspects." Their designs may have remained suspect, but they certainly weren't so usual after the iPhone came along.
The moment the iPhone was unveiled, it was clear to most people that this is how all smartphones would look and work one day.
Before: Ultraportable Laptops
Devices light the Sony TX and TZ series of laptops were the thinnest notebooks money could buy until the MacBook Air came along.
Photo: Vaio VGN-TX2
After: Ultraportable Laptops
The MacBook Air quickly snatched away the title of world's thinnest notebook. Tapering down to an astonishing 0.16" in its first version, the MacBook Air remains one of the most beautiful devices Apple has ever created. Unlike most ultraportable laptops, it came with a full-sized keyboard, too.
Before: Consumerization of High Tech
This is what a typical desktop computer looked like when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997: a time when more people were starting to use computers, but very few seemed to think about just how bad they looked.
After: Consumerization of High Tech
The colorful, blobby iMac changed all of that -- with a computer that put style right up front. Apple's aesthetic may have changed since the toyetic iMac first burst onto the scene, but this was Apple's first computer which ever looked good enough to sit comfortably in a design museum.
There were tablets -- like this Microsoft Tablet PC -- before the iPad, but few computer users bought them or took the idea seriously.
Photo: Janto Dreijer/Wikipedia
Launched in April 2010, the iPad took an idea Jobs had heard about from computer pioneer Alan Kay and turned it into the kind of mass-market product no one else had been able to.