Today in Apple history: Mac’s ‘1984’ ad debuts in theaters

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1984
Before it won the Super Bowl, Apple's iconic Mac ad invaded theaters.
Photo: Chiat/Day/Apple

January 17: Today in Apple history: Mac's '1984' ad debuts in theaters January 17, 1984: A week before its famous airing during Super Bowl XVIII, Apple’s iconic “1984” ad debuts as a trailer in movie theaters.

To hype its revolutionary new Macintosh computer, Apple buys several months of promotion from theatrical ad distributor ScreenVision. Cupertino’s sci-fi-tinged “1984” spot — which depicts a sledgehammer-wielding freedom fighter taking on a Big Brother figure supposed to represent IBM —
gets such a favorable audience reaction that some theater owners continue to roll the ad after Apple’s contract ends.

Today in Apple History: Bill Gates hails Mac as the future of computing

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Bill Gates
Bill Gates offered high praise for the Mac in 1984.
Image: Fulvio Obregon

November 26: Today in Apple history: Bill Gates praises Macintosh November 26, 1984: “The next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC,” claims Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a BusinessWeek cover story.

The claim would seem almost unthinkable coming out of Gates’ mouth just a few years later. But it comes at a time when Microsoft is best known as one of the biggest Mac developers.

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: World gets a chance to test-drive a Mac

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Apple's innovative
Apple's innovative "Test Drive a Macintosh" ad campaign urged potential customers to take a Mac for a spin.
Photo: Apple

November 8: Today in Apple history: Test-drive a Mac November 8, 1984: When initial Mac sales prove disappointing, Apple CEO John Sculley dreams up the “Test Drive a Macintosh” campaign to encourage people to give Apple’s revolutionary new computer a chance.

While 200,000 would-be Apple customers take advantage of the offer, Apple dealers absolutely hate it.

Today in Apple history: The forgotten first Mac with an internal CD-ROM

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Why did the Mac IIvx fail to take the world by storm?
Why did the Mac IIvx fail to take the world by storm?
Photo: Apple

October 19: Today in Apple history October 19, 1992: Apple launches the Mac IIvx, the first Macintosh computer to ship with a metal case and, more importantly, an internal CD-ROM drive.

The last of the Macintosh II series, the Mac IIvx experiences one of the more notorious price adjustments in Apple history. Within five months of shipping, Apple slashes the computer’s launch price of $2,949 to $1,899. That’s one way to reward early adopters!

Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs and Jef Raskin clash over the Mac

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Apple Mac
The war over the Macintosh's soul started on this day in 1979.
Photo: Apple

September 27: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs and Jef Raskin clash over the Mac September 27, 1979: Years before the Macintosh will ship, Steve Jobs and Jef Raskin clash for the first time over the direction of the Macintosh R&D project.

Raskin, the founder of the Macintosh project, wants a computer that’s going to be affordable to everyone. Jobs wants a computer that’s going to be the best, regardless of price.

Guess who won?

Today in Apple history: Macintosh 512K, aka the ‘Fat Mac,’ quadruples the memory

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Apple Mac
The "Fat Mac" solved one of the original Mac's biggest problems.
Photo: Apple

September 10: Today in Apple history: Macintosh 512K, aka the 'Fat Mac,' quadruples the memory September 10, 1984: Apple ships the Macintosh 512K, the first upgrade to the first-gen Macintosh 128K.

Coming less than eight months after the original Macintosh, the 512K Mac makes no sweeping changes to the computer’s form factor. Instead, the big upgrade is quadrupling the RAM. This leads Apple fans to refer to the computer as the “Fat Mac.”

Today in Apple history: iMac G5 takes a page out of the iPod’s playbook

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The iMac G5 looked like the world's biggest iPod.
The iMac G5 looked like the world's biggest iPod.
Photo: Matthew Pearce/Flickr CC

August 31: Today in Apple history: iMac G5 takes a page out of the iPod's playbook August 31, 2004: Apple launches the iMac G5, a distinctive, white plastic computer that looks a little like the world’s biggest iPod.

Housed in a 2-inch-thick enclosure reminiscent of Apple’s Cinema Displays, the new all-in-one machine bridges the gap between the pleasing plasticity of the iconic G3 iMac and the minimalist form factor of today’s ultra-slim aluminum Mac desktops.

20 most important Macs of all time

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Vivid colors made the early iMac design stand out in a sea of beige. An iMac G3 ad,
The iMac G3 went on sale two decades ago today.
Photo: Apple

Today marks 20 years since the launch of the Bondi Blue iMac, the product that helped set Apple back on the right course. The iMac definitely revolutionized the personal computer industry, but which other Macs rank as Apple’s most game-changing machines?

We went right back to the earliest Macintosh models to bring you our picks for the top 20 most important Macs of all time.