IBM As the Rebel, Apple needs an Evil Empire to publicly confront. Famously this is Microsoft, plus Intel for the Wintel PC and processor partnership. But in the beginning the big baddie was IBM. In contrast to colourful, healthy Apple even its name was boring with a shadow of brutality: International Business Machines.
IBM represented the monotonous big business oligarch to Apple’s free-thinking wood fairy – the Emperor to Steve Jobs’ Luke Skywalker. In 1981 Apple took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal sarcastically welcoming IBM to the world of personal computers.
In its ‘1984’ ad to launch the Macintosh, Apple was represented as the lithe, young athlete throwing a hammer into the Big Brother screen droning at the grey, enslaved masses. If you listen to Jobs during his 1983 company keynote address it’s pretty obvious who Big Brother was meant to represent: “IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? Was George Orwell right?”
Just seven years later Apple was partnering with IBM on the PowerPC processor – until it turned to its other arch-foe Intel. With Apple’s perpetual war of regular switching between enemies, rewriting of history, and keynote two-minute hates maybe George Orwell’s vision of 1984 was right after all – just the wrong way round.
iBook The iBook needed to match the stunning looks of the translucent iMac G3. And Apple outdid itself with the clamshell design of the original iBook. With its lady handle it looked more like a handbag than a portable computer, putting an extreme distance between it and boring, corporate laptop design – though some mocked it as “Barbie’s toilet seat”.
iCon Apple CEO Steve Jobs likes secrets because he likes to reveal things – on his terms, in his place of choosing, and always in blue jeans and black turtleneck. The only thing he hates more than people blowing Apple’s secrets is when people reveal things about him. So he did his nut roast when a book called iCon (geddit?) was written all about him. As retribution Jobs banned all books by publisher John Wiley from Apple retail stores.
iMac The computer that brought back Apple from the brink, the iMac is regarded as Steve Jobs’ first move to get Apple back on track from the Gates of Ruin.
The original 1999 iMac shape is hard to describe, although many have tried: bubble, egg, gumdrop… In the end everything else that looked a bit like it just became known as iMac shaped.
It wasn’t just a revolution in looks (Jobs later joked that “the back of our computer looks better than the front of anyone else’s”) it ditched some PC standards – most controversially the floppy disk drive for email and the CD. It was the first Mac to include USB, which gradually made the Mac compatible with more PC peripherals. (Just don’t mention its mouse…)
Apple changed the original iMac’s colour with each new version, until it swapped the shape dramatically with 2002’s wacky iMac G4 – which looked like an anglepoise lamp. Later iMacs just hid everything behind the LCD screen, making them slimmer and more home friendly but losing some of the personality that made their name and saved Apple’s skin.
The original iMac and iBook were deliberately garish, out of this world and revolutionary in order for Apple to get its products noticed in front of the dominant beige army of Windows clones. Once Apple was clear of death’s door the products became more mainstream again.
Inc In 2007 Apple changed its name from Apple Computer to Apple Inc to announce to the world that it wasn’t just a boring computer manufacturer any more. No, it also makes iPod Socks and expensive iPad cases.
Industrial Light & Magic Started by Star Wars director George Lucas, Industrial Light and Magic had an offshoot computer graphics division, which was sold to former Apple boss Steve Jobs for $5m in 1986. It was later renamed Pixar, and became rather successful.
Infinite Loop An infinite loop is a coding term for an event that usually leads to the crash of a computer. It’s an odd name then for the street on which resides Apple’s main corporate campus.
Intel Like IBM, chip maker Intel was for a long time the object of Apple’s scorn and derision. During keynotes Steve would show funny videos of Intel’s Pentium chips on the shell of a snail (ha ha ha) or Intel technicians in spacesuits being burned by the speed of PowerPC (ho ho ho). Ha ha ha until the PowerPC wasn’t that fast any more and Apple jumped chip to Intel. Ho ho ho until Intel’s processors slow down and Apple buys all its chips from ARM.
iTunes Apple’s iTunes music player looked like a little curiosity when it was launched in 2001. Then along came the iPod a few months later… iTunes rapidly revolutionised the whole music industry and threatens to do the same to the movie industry and software distribution. The market-leading iPhone and iPad can’t do much without it. When iTunes whistles the world hums along.
Ive Possibly to disguise the fact that he once designed a toilet, Apple’s 44-year-old skinhead aesthete Jonathan Ive prefers to be known as Jony. Born in Essex, Ive attended the same school in Chingford as fellow style icon David Beckham. He is now Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, and is feted for his designs for the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. In 2006 he was awarded the title Commander of the British Empire – possibly bestowed in the Privy Chamber.
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