While Apple may be known for its small-enough-to-fit in your pocket devices now, it wasn't always like that. As the company celebrates its 25th anniversary, we look back at its products and pick the 10 best Macs of all-time.

Today Apple is known for sleek devices that are small enough to fit in your pocket but, as the tech company celebrates its 25th anniversary, we remember that it wasn't always small and light devices that drove it forward.

In fact, the first Macintosh, the one that started Apple's rise to iconic status, is to the computer industry what the wheel was to cave men. It was launched during the Super Bowl on January 22, 1984 - in a minute-long commercial directed by Ridley Scott that became a classic of its own - and went on sale two days later. It was the first of a string of Apple computers that would captivate users for the next quarter of a century.

Much has changed in technology over the course of the past 25 years, with Apple often at the centre of the advances we now take for granted. To celebrate the Mac's 25th anniversary, I looked back over the years and picked 10 Apple computers that altered the company's course and changed the way the world works and communicates. My first pick, naturally, is the first Mac.

The Macintosh (1984)

The original Mac, with its compact all-in-one design, innovative mouse and user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI), changed the computer industry. Like the wheel, the Mac just made things convenient for the rest of us.

Most computers in the early 1980s were controlled exclusively through text commands, limiting their audience to true geeks. True, Apple had released a GUI with the introduction of the $9,995 Lisa in 1983, but the Mac, priced at $2,495, was the first computer to capture the attention of everyday people, who could now use a computer without learning an entirely cryptic command-line language.

The mouse, coupled with a user interface that closely followed the physical 'desktop' metaphor, allowed users to tackle tasks unheard of for rival computers using its two included applications: MacWrite and MacPaint. Thus was born desktop publishing.

Coupled with the Postscript software licensed from Adobe Systems, Apple was able to also sell the Apple Laserwriter, which helped bring about what you see is what you get (YSIWYG) design, allowing artists to output precisely what was on the Mac's 9in black-and-white screen.

In case you forgot, the first Mac came with 128KB of RAM and zipped along with an 8MHz processor. Reviewers were not always friendly, but the stories of those who helped bring it to life, collated by Folklore.org, offer a fascinating look at the first computer to capture mainstream attention.


The original Macintosh 128k (photo: Marco Mioli, All About Apple, GNU FDL 1.2 licence)

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Next page: The Powerbook 100 series and the Power Mac G3

  1. In 25 years, these are the machines that stand out
  2. The Powerbook 100 series and the Power Mac G3
  3. The iMac
  4. The PowerBook G3 'Wallstreet'
  5. The Power Mac G4 Cube
  6. The MacBook Air and the iPhone