| Cult of Mac

Machine Crush Monday: Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue store turns 8


Apple's Fifth Avenue retail store opens in New York City.
Black sabbath is inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame along with Blondie, the Sex Pistols, and Lynard Skynard.
Don Knotts, the actor who portrayed Barney Fife on the 1960s TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show dies at the age of 81.
Google pays $1.65 billion to acquire YouTube. Google's Q3 profits for the for the year nearly doubled (92)%), while its search query volume grows twice as fast as Yahoo's.
Celebrations are held in Salzburg and around the world for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Crash wins Best Picture at the Oscars.
...Brokeback Mountain does not.
U2 cleans up at the Grammys.

It takes a lot to be both New York City’s most photographed landmark and Apple’s most beautiful retail store. It’s rare that a shop can genuinely be said to take your breath away, but in the case of New York’s Fifth Avenue Apple Store, it lives up to its reputation — and then some.

A big glass box with a glass elevator in the middle, as well as a see-through staircase, complete with wrap-around glass banister, it’s a little bit like Apple’s long-forgotten (but spectacular) Power Mac G4 Cube — only so big that you can shop in it.

Grossing more than any other store in New York, and making more dosh per square foot than any other store in the world, exactly eight years after it opened its doors, Apple’s flagship retail store has become an iconic part of the New York landscape.

And like a lot of the best Apple products, it owes it all to Steve Jobs.

Machine Crush Monday: 1976 Gibson Explorer


Ahead of its time when released in the 1950s, the Gibson Explorer fits right into the rock 'n' roll landscape two decades later. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Also in 1976, a couple of longhairs named Steve and Woz start a little computer company you might have heard of.
Sylvester Stallone becomes a Hollywood heavyweight after his 1976 boxing movie turns into an unexpected hit.
JVC's HR-3300 video cassette recorder, unveiled on September 9, 1976, becomes the first VHS-based machine to hit the market.
The humble peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, defeats incumbent President Gerald Ford.
Hot on the 7-inch heels of surprise hit Alive!, the paint-faced rockers unleash Destroyer in 1976.
The nation's Bicentennial celebration drapes the United States in red, white and blue.
One of Marvel Comics' most unlikely heroes goes solo in 1976.
Viking 1 puts a lander on the Red Planet on July 20, 1976.
The parody stickers' highly successful second run fades away with the 1976 series. Bubble gum was never so fun.
Director Miloš Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest wins big at the Academy Awards in 1976, sweeping the "big five" Oscars.

To me, the 1976 Gibson Explorer means lust at first sight, love at first feel and that rarest of man-machine crushes: an enduring passion that persists long after I plunked down my hard-earned cash.

Gibson’s luthiers prototyped the Explorer (alongside pointy siblings the Flying V and the apocryphal Moderne) in the ’50s. The space race was on, rock ‘n’ roll was coming into its own and cars boasted bold curves and sci-fi fins. The Explorer and Flying V were released in 1958, a year after the Soviets launched Sputnik 1. (The Moderne didn’t makes its official debut until 1982.)

Like the beautiful but doomed Power Mac G4 Cube, the radically shaped guitars were clearly ahead of their time: These pointy instruments, which years later would become staples of heavy metal and hard-rock style, flopped hard. Gibson discontinued both lines within a few years.

In 1976, spurred by the success of competitors’ Explorer clones, Gibson came to its senses and reissued the Explorer. The natural mahogany finish on the best of these, much like the lighter Korina of the original models, gave the strangely shaped guitars a retro-futuristic look. That marriage of old and new is coming back into fashion now as designers tumble to the innate beauty of natural materials.

Machine Crush Monday: Leica M6


There's still something magical about the Leica M6, a rangefinder camera introduced in 1984. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Who won the Super Bowl in 1984? Apple did. Aired during the third quarter of the big game, the "1984" commercial introduces the Macintosh to an unsuspecting public (and generates a ton of buzz).
Judge Harry T. Stone presides over hilarity in Night Court, a sitcom that starts its nine-season run in 1984.
Any mission, any time, any place: Robo Force's Maxx Steele reports for duty in 1984.
Shape-shifting pop star Michael Jackson bags a record eight Grammys in 1984 for his record-shattering album Thriller.
The rivalry between classical composers Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart captures critics' fancy in 1984 movie Amadeus.
What time is it? Game time. The Casio Cosmo-Flight gives new meaning to the term "wrist rocket" in the mid-'80s.
Truman Capote, the famously troubled author of In Cold Blood, dies of liver cancer August 25, 1984, at age 59.
Prince double dips with Purple Rain, a movie (and accompanying soundtrack) about a Minneapolis musician. Everybody goes crazy.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated on October 31, 1984, a day after her final speech, which included the sadly prophetic line: "I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow. I shall continue to serve till my last breath."

When I worked on my college paper a million years ago, my buddy Bruno had Leicas. This made him the coolest person in the whole wide world.

The cameras were tiny and had the smoothest-operating lenses I had ever touched. They were a feat of German engineering. For me, it was love at first sight. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop lusting for one of those tiny black boxes.

I immediately started my quest to get one. I had to have a Leica. And because this was the mid-’80s, I definitely wanted an M6, which was introduced in 1984. Hell, it was advanced. It had a meter. The first real meter in a Leica, if you disregard the much-maligned M5.

Machine Crush Monday: Power Mac G4 Cube


AOL's $164 billion purchase of Time Warner was among the biggest mergers in history. It was also one of the worst.
Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr, often called "the most beautiful woman in films," goes to the great studio shoot in the sky at age 85 on January 19, 2000. Nerds will remember that the beauty had brains: Lamarr invented a "Secret Communication System," paving the way for modern wireless communications.
Sony unleashes its PS2 onto the gaming scene in March 2000. The black, blocky unit goes on to become the best-selling game console of all time.
Unlike Apple's Cube, Eminem's third studio album becomes a massive hit right out of the gate. Released May 23, 2000, the controversial album sells 1.76 million copies in the United States in its first week, fueled by the incredibly hooky single "The Real Slim Shady."
Which is more memorable, Kevin Spacey's fantasy about Mena Suvari in a rose bath, or Annette Bening's manic "I will sell this house" scene? American Beauty, Sam Mendes' haunting film about suburban ennui, takes home five Oscars in 2000, including Best Picture.
The final Sunday Peanuts strip by Charles M. Schulz is published February 13, 2000, a day after the cartoonist's death. Newspapers will never be the same.
Another winner from 2000? Richard Hatch, who walks away with the title of Sole Survivor in the first season of reality TV show Survivor, thanks to some savvy strategy (and loads of naked ambition).
A spunky animated adventurer packs her backpack and jumps onto the silver screen as Dora the Explorer begins a long run at Nickelodeon on August 14, 2000.

As the 20th century waned, Apple laid a beautiful square egg.

The Power Mac G4 Cube, introduced in July 2000, delivered a fair amount of Apple computing power in a unique see-through enclosure made of acrylic glass. Designed by Jony Ive, the futuristic-looking Cube offered a glimpse of the sleek industrial design that would come to epitomize Apple’s upscale take on consumer technology.

“I just remember it being this incredibly elegant, sexy machine that looked nothing like a computer,” said Randall Greenwell, director of photography at The Virginian-Pilot and a longtime Apple aficionado, in an email to Cult of Mac.