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The Macintosh Turns 20

By Dr. Philip Baczewski, Associate Director of Academic Computing

When this year's Superbowl comes around, blow out 20 candles on the cake for the Apple Macintosh. It was the 1984 Superbowl commercial  featuring the hammer-throw shattering of "Big Brother" which introduced us to this "Computer for the Rest of Us." In the intervening 20 years, the Macintosh has had its ups, its downs, and its ups and still maintains its place within the computing marketplace.

As we reflect on this history however, it is interesting to note that this was one of the few recent MacWorld meetings during which there wasn't the introduction of a new consumer Macintosh computer model from Apple. Instead, they focused on some new programs or program versions to support the media computing niche that Apple has made its own as well as a new music player (iPod mini) and a G5 server.

So far, however, Apple seems to be able to remain ahead of the consumer computer market (or at least are keeping up with it). In recent years they have scored with the iMac, an Internet appliance for the rest of us and the iPod, a digital music player for the rest of us. They currently lead the market in MP3 players and have recently announced a deal with Hewlett Packard to license an OEM version. OS X has brought the original Macintosh look and feel into the 21st century (using 1960s UNIX technology).

Although Apple's grip on the Education market has loosened quite a bit over the years, their relationship with higher education remains strong, with a flagship project at Virginia Tech  producing an Apple-based supercomputer . Closer to home, UNT still maintains an educational purchase agreement with Apple enabling students, faculty and staff to purchase Apple products as a discounted price.

So, January 24 (the official release date) marks 20 years of Macintosh. Having positioned itself as the BMW of computing, Apple seems to have found, at least for the mean time, a secure position for itself and a software and hardware platform combination which has fostered true innovation. Who knows what the next 20 years will bring (It seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the 10th anniversary ).