20. Power Macintosh G3 – Blue & White (1999)
The ‘Blue and White’ G3 looks very much like the Bondai Blue colour used in other Apple computers of the time and it certainly added visual spice in comparison to its beige peers, especially with its matching keyboard and mouse.
The internal components could be accessed easily and without special tools via a folding door on the side of the unit that swings down onto the desk, and the iconic casing included handles in the corners for easy transportation. It was a powerful tool for the time which did exactly what it needed to, but the design itself is what is the most fondly remembered as it took the colour cue from the iMac range and used it subtly and more stylishly in a tower Mac that was worthy of seeing in the new millennium.
19. iPhone 5c (2013)
The iPhone 5c was the cooler and cheaper iPhone that was designed to expand the number of iPhone owners and add more choice for consumers. It most certainly did this. Featuring a durable, polycarbonate case (in blue, green, yellow, pink or white colour options) that allowed the device to stand up to the rigours and activities that go with being a teenager/young adult, the iPhone 5c served as the entry-level Apple product for a new generation of younger customers who would then become hooked on Apple products for life.
In the wider world of Apple firsts, the iPhone 5c does not particularly stand out from a technical point of view, but it certainly tapped into our imagination and allowed us to own an iPhone that was colour co-ordinated to match our style.
18. MacBook Air 1st gen (2008)
To understand how influential the original MacBook Air was all you need to do is look at the competition today. So many modern laptops look like the Air and it would be more than fair to say that Apple nailed the design first time. Initially only available as a 13.3-inch model, the Air was launched as the world’s thinnest notebook to mixed reviews. Praised for its light weight and portability, but criticised for offering limited configuration options and ports, the Air now serves as Apple’s entry-level laptop. Which is not too bad a place to start.
17. Mac OS X ‘Cheetah’ (2001)
Mac OS X offered some subtle visual changes to the main Mac environment, including the Aqua user interface, and formed a vital part of the evolving history of Apple’s desktop environment. Bit by bit the features have been built up and Mac OS X is considered by many to be the first step in making the operating system fit for the modern age. When it was released, OS X required double the amount of RAM currently used by most Apple computers and slowed down many more Macs that could support it, yet the love affair still persisted.
16. iPad Pro 1st gen (2015)
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro – originally released in 32- and 128GB versions – was Apple’s attempt at proving that the all-conquering tablet could be used for more creative purposes and for serious work. Along with the companion Apple Pencil (available separately), it pushed the boat out for interactivity and the push still continues to this day. Anyone who uses an iPad Pro can sense the massive improvements and we suspect that one day we will look back on it in the same way we do the iMac G3. It could have been the start of something huge.
15. App Store (2008)
Mobile apps used to mimic desktop software with registration codes and painful installation processes, and then the App Store arrived… Overnight, all of a sudden, apps could be bought for pennies and installed in seconds, and developers rushed to create games and tools for a growing army of users. Some developers became millionaires, Apple built a seamless mobile app empire and today we all have countless apps with us all of the time. It was and still is an extraordinary achievement and will only continue to develop further.
14. Macintosh Classic (1990)
The Classic is one of very few offerings from Apple that was designed to appeal to more people purely on a cost basis. Besides being the first Macintosh to sell for less than $1,000, it was not a huge jump in terms of technological prowess, but it was quicker than the Macintosh Plus (1986) and it did include a floppy disk drive for extra reach. Strangely, when we look at the Macintosh Classic today, the form of the computer is near legendary, whilst at the time concerns were raised over how uninspiring the product was to look at overall.
13. Siri (2011)
Siri was yet another Apple innovation that changed our relationship with technology forever. As a virtual personal assistant it has gradually improved over time, but it would be fair to say that offerings from Amazon and Google work better for many people. Where Siri shines, alongside all of Apple’s products, is that it is secure and this is why it is slightly limited in what it can do. The fact is, however, that Siri is still a marvel on any Apple product and new ways of utilising it are constantly being woven into the fabric of Apple’s operating systems.
12. iPhone 1st Gen (2007)
Apple’s most successful product ever completely changed the way we communicate with each other and consume information. It made smartphones approachable and, despite not including third-party apps or 3G connectivity, it easily demonstrated the potential for such a device by ditching a physical keyboard and stylus control in favour of a pioneering touchscreen interface that has become the norm.
The competition eventually caught up, but still today the iPhone offers a smoother and more secure experience than any other phone available. When you think of Apple the iPhone immediately springs to mind which sums up the influence and importance of what is possibly the most iconic piece of technology ever.
11. AirTag (2021)
Rumoured for years, Apple's Tile-esque tracking device finally dropped this year. The diminutive device is so small and simple that it's hardly as mind-blowing as plenty of the rest of the tech in this list – but anyone who's ever used AirTag to find a set of lost keys will know that's utterly essential. And like all of the best Apple products, it just works.
10. Apple Macintosh (1984)
For all of the importance of the very early Apple computers, the Macintosh 128K is the one that continues to live on today and not just in name (iMac, MacBook, etc). The graphical user interface, built-in nine-inch screen and mouse made the Macintosh the first to include all three and thus it shaped what we consider a computer to be today. The beige case also had a handle built into the top for portability.
The lengthy development process and advanced technology made it a highly impressive offering, but the price was in stark contrast to the computers that were dominating at the time, computers that focused largely on gaming. Also, it was not easy to expand, which meant that it struggled to compete in multiple areas. The Macintosh was in many ways ahead of its time and Apple invested hugely in trying to make it as successful as possible, but it is only now that we can look back and realise just how important it was in creating the Apple we know today. You should also make a point of looking up the Ridley Scott-directed 1984-themed Super Bowl commercial on YouTube, which first introduced the Apple Macintosh onto the global computer stage.
09. iTunes (2001)
iTunes was just another software solution when it was initially released, but the soon-to-come iPod changed all of that. Together they welcomed millions to the world of digital music and quickly killed off the market for illegal music sharing. For many, iTunes provided the means to rip their music CDs and convert the content for their iPods to store, allowing them to have their entire music collection ‘on demand’.
The iTunes Store grew quickly over time and has brought us a huge library of music, films and TV shows without the need for physical media to store them all on. Throw in the Apple TV, AirPods, iPhone, etc, and you have a solution that is much more fundamental to the world of Apple than we often consider these days. Apple Music may be the darling of the moment and the likes of Netflix and Amazon are fierce competition, but there is no doubt that iTunes will continue in one form or another, maybe in the background, as Apple enters new markets to safeguard the future of all of its products. iTunes changed everything.
08. MacBook Pro (2021)
Yes, it has a notch – but that one controversial design detail isn't enough to detract from the sheer impressiveness of Apple's game-changing 2021 MacBook Pro. The ProMotion LED display is a delight to use, and the M1 Pro and Max chips are faster than anything before.
If ever there was an Apple product that hints at the future, it's this. Creatives have never enjoyed performance like it from a Mac, and the machine is proof if proof be needed that Apple's shift to its own custom M1 silicon the previous year was a great decision. Sorry, Intel.
07. Apple Watch Series 1 (2015)
Potentially, the first Apple Watch is the riskiest major product that Apple has released in recent times. The smartphone was still relatively new in 2015 and to supplement it with a product that technically offered few extra obvious features could have gone horribly wrong, but it didn’t and over time it has become the dominant force in wearables.
Fitness has been at the heart of the Apple Watch experience and millions of people have changed their lives for the better thanks to the software and hardware onboard. From this they have then discovered how useful wrist-based notifications are and the variety of uses the product offers, and have taken it further by customising it with fashionable straps and other accessories. Remarkably, Apple is now the biggest watch company in the world and it has achieved this in the space of four years while overtaking companies that have been making watches for 100 years and more.
06. iBook G3 ‘Clamshell’ (1999)
Back in 1999, computers were for grown-ups and laptops were for powerful business people. And then the iBook G3 happened. Picking up the Bondai Blue thread, the iBook offered many design tweaks that are impressive – even 20 years later. The transparent plastic shell was beautiful and welcoming to look at, the carrying handle added much practicality and the wireless networking truly made it a first in the computer industry.
It was quite a large product due to the components within it, but this was made up for by the revolutionary design that looked nothing like any other computer on the market, apart from the iMac G3 of which this was the portable counterpart. It also added weight to the view that Apple was not just any other computing company; it was different, it was innovative and it considered the user above all else when designing new products. Like the iMacs, the iBook G3 was completely devoid of legacy Apple interfaces with USB, Ethernet, modem ports and optical drive as standard, demonstrating that Apple was only looking forward now and not back.
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