30 best Apple products? Arguments welcome

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This week we’re celebrating Apple’s 30th birthday by posting a list of what we consider to be the 30 most significant products in the company’s history.

Now, you might be wondering what scientific approach we used to come up with this list. A scientific poll? A complex series of evaluations involving a 10-point scale in multiple categories? A perl script and a FileMaker database, fighting to the death?

But it was none of the above. Instead, it was the digital equivalent of the smoke-filled room: an e-mail thread, sometimes argumentative but mostly collegial, among most of Macworld’s editors. And in the end, we had a list of 30 products, and almost everyone walked away with some of their favorites on the cutting room floor.

But, hey, that’s what making lists is all about: starting discussion. The American Film Institute has generated scores of arguments with their series of “Top 100” film lists. (“Duck Soup” only merits #85 on the list of the 100 best American movies of all time? Come on!) Entertainment Weekly magazine manages to generate at least four cover stories a year on the backs of arbitrary lists — and then fills its letters column and online forums with readers grousing about the choices.

So do we expect you to take our list mildly and walk away? We most certainly do not. We know you. You all have deeply held opinions about the Mac, and about what makes it great. And I’m sure as you watch our list unfold, you will dispute the worthiness of many of the items we pick. Then on Friday, when the list concludes, we’ll get howls of protest for items that didn’t make the cut.

That’s fine. Make your own list, if you like, and put it in our forums. Cut our rationale to ribbons. Our list was most definitely not generated in some scientific fashion — and so it’s just an opinion. Ours is worth no more than yours. We’d all love to hear what you have to say. Who knows? Maybe at the end, we’ll need to create another list of the products we left off.

At which point, the discussion will begin again…

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