Today in Apple history: Macintosh Plus brings big changes to Mac

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The MacIntosh Plus was arguably the first truly great Mac.
The MacIntosh Plus was arguably the first truly great Mac.
Photo: Rama/Wikipedia CC

January 16: Today in Apple history: Macintosh Plus brings big changes to Mac January 16, 1986: Apple introduces the Macintosh Plus, its third Mac model and the first to be released after Steve Jobs was forced out of the company the previous year.

The Mac Plus boasts an expandable 1MB of RAM and a double-sided 800KB floppy drive. And it’s the first Macintosh to include a SCSI port, which serves as the main way of attaching a Mac to other devices (at least until Apple abandons the tech on the iMac G3 upon Jobs’ return).

Today in Apple history: MacBook Air becomes ‘world’s thinnest notebook’

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A plain manila envelope became a key stage prop for selling the MacBook Air.
A plain manila envelope became a key prop for selling the MacBook Air.
Photo: Apple

January 15: Today in Apple history: MacBook Air becomes 'world's thinnest notebook' January 15, 2008: Steve Jobs shows off the first MacBook Air at the Macworld conference in San Francisco, calling the revolutionary computer the “world’s thinnest notebook.”

The 13.3-inch laptop measures only 0.76 inches at its thickest point and 0.16 inches at its tapered thinnest. It also boasts a unibody aluminum design, thanks to an Apple engineering breakthrough that allows the crafting of a complicated computer case from a single block of finely machined metal.

In a brilliant piece of showmanship during the MacBook Air launch, Jobs pulls the super-slim laptop out of a standard interoffice envelope. (You can watch his keynote introducing the MacBook Air below).

Today in Apple history: Apple invents ‘slide to unlock’

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Apple didn't invent the Slide to Unlock gesture.
"Slide to unlock" drew audible gasps from the audience when Steve Jobs first showed it off.
Photo: Jared Earle/Flickr CC

December 23: Today in Apple history: Apple invents slide to unlock gesture for iPhone December 23, 2005: Apple files a patent application for its iconic “slide to unlock” gesture for the iPhone.

At this point, the iPhone remains a secret research project. However, the ability to unlock the device by sliding your finger across it signifies Apple’s big ambitions for its smartphone. Cupertino wants the iPhone to be easy to use, intuitive and miles ahead of the competition technologically.

Today in Apple history: Apple signs damaging deal with Microsoft

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Windows used a number of elements of the Mac UI
One of the most damaging deals in Apple history.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

November 21: Today in Apple history: Apple signs Microsoft deal licensing Mac look and feel November 21, 1985: Following Steve Jobs’ departure, Apple comes close to signing its own death warrant by licensing the Macintosh’s look and feel to Microsoft.

The deal, between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple CEO John Sculley, comes hot on the heels of the Windows operating system’s release. The pact gives Microsoft a “non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, nontransferable license to use [parts of the Mac technology] in present and future software programs, and to license them to and through third parties for use in their software programs.”

Oh, boy!

Today in Apple history: Apple Park gets the official go-ahead

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Apple Park
Apple's spectacular new campus gained approval on this day in 2013.
Photo: Matthew Roberts

November 19: Today in Apple history: Apple Park approved by Cupertino City Council November 19, 2013: Apple gets final approval from the Cupertino City Council to proceed with building a massive second campus to house its growing army of workers.

Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney’s simple message regarding Apple Campus 2? “Go for it.”

However, the massive structure — with an innovative circular design that will earn it the nickname “the spaceship” — remains years away from opening, despite Apple’s ambitious schedule.

Today in Apple history: Apple’s last mechanical keyboard is a winner

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The Apple Extended Keyboard II might be Cupertino's finest keyboard of all time.
This could be the best Apple keyboard ever.
Photo: University of Chicago

November 15: Today in Apple history: Apple Extended Keyboard II is Apple's last (and greatest) mechanical keyboard November 15, 1990: Cupertino wins a design patent for its Apple Extended Keyboard II, arguably the greatest computer keyboard of all time.

Delivering the perfect combination of durability, feel and a pleasing click-clack sound, the Extended Keyboard II will become a mainstay of pro-grade Apple setups during the early 1990s — and perhaps the best-loved keyboard in Apple history. Courtesy of an ADB-to-USB adapter, some people continue to use them today.

The Touch Bar was doomed from the start. There was no escape.

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Was the Touch Bar out of touch with pro users needs?
Was the Touch Bar out of touch with pro users’ needs?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar was a technological marvel in its day. It brought the magic of multi-touch to macOS and, with its stand-alone T1 chipset, it put ARM-based Apple Silicon inside the MacBook when the M1 chip was still just a twinkle in Cupertino’s eye.

There’s no doubt it was a clever piece of engineering, but it proved unpopular with pro users. Many missed the tactile feedback of the traditional Escape key and function keys.

Apple rejigged things last year, shrinking the Touch Bar to make room for a physical escape key, but it was too little too late. Many will be glad to see the Touch Bar go, but I’m gonna miss that little sliver of multi-touch magic at the top of my keyboard.

2021 MacBook Pro proves Apple got its groove back

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The HDMI port, MagSafe charger and SD card reader in the new 2021 MacBook Pro models prove Apple design is back on track.
The HDMI port, MagSafe charger and SD card reader in the new 2021 MacBook Pro models prove Apple design is back on track.
Photo: Apple

In 2016, Apple proudly unveiled a new MacBook Pro that rejected the HDMI port, the MagSafe charger and the SD card reader of the past. Fast forward to 2021, and the company just released new MacBook Pro models with an HDMI port, MagSafe and SD card reader.

Why the reversal? Apple’s head of design Jony Ive left in 2019 after decades with the company. His tendency to push form over function led Cupertino down the wrong path in many ways. And Apple is just now undoing mistakes Ive was responsible for. Like taking out ports that most buyers wanted.

Today in Apple history: iMac goes big with 27-inch display

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The 2009 unibody iMac proved a watershed design for Jony Ive and Apple.
Unibody aluminum iMac design FTW!
Photo: Apple

October 20: Today in Apple history: iMac goes big with 27-inch display October 20, 2009: Apple goes big with its iMac redesign, introducing the first 27-inch all-in-one Mac.

The sleek, sophisticated aluminum unibody design looks so good that the iMac will remain virtually unchanged for years. As with the first Macintosh with a built-in CD-ROM drive, the iMac’s 27-inch display represents a sea change for tech. The big, beautiful screen signals that larger displays need no longer remain the domain of pampered professionals.

Today in Apple history: iPod nano gets colorful aluminum upgrade

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iPod nano
The second-gen iPod nano was totally metal.
Photo: Dongyi Liu/Flickr CC

Sept 25: Today in Apple history: Second-generation iPod nano gets colorful aluminum upgrade September 25, 2006: Apple ships its second-generation iPod nano, offering a fancy redesign of the pocket-size original.

Among the new iPod nano’s improvements is a slimmer, anodized aluminum casing, a brighter screen, longer battery life and a wide range of colors. And, oh yes, it also includes gapless music playback for the first time!