Widely regarded as ‘the’ computer for graphic design and other creative processes, the Apple Mac computer is almost instantly recognizable. But how did we reach the sleek, streamline, high tech version that we have today? We’ll be taking a deep dive into the history of the Apple Mac computers biggest milestones.

Timeline of Apple Mac Computers

Apple II – 1977

apple II
apple II / Museums Victoria

Apple has been consistently raising the bar within the computer and telecommunications industry, and has been doing so since 1977. The first Apple all-in-one computer, the Apple II featured the famous rainbow logo. At the time it was released, it set itself apart from its competitors by featuring a colour graphic display.

Lisa/Macintosh XL – 1983

Apple Lisa 2
Apple Lisa 2 / Museums Victoria

Although it featured the first intuitive GUI, this model didn’t do too well when released to the market. The flop was attributable to the ghastly $10 000 price and lack of software titles.

Macintosh Plus (1986)

Macintosh Plus
Macintosh Plus / Museums Victoria

Released in January of 1986, the Macintosh Plus fashioned a RAM 4 times higher than previous models. This was the last model to feature the original beige colour before the switch to the grey platinum exterior that characterised Macs to come.

Macintosh SE (1987)

Macintosh SE
Macintosh SE

This model brought with it an additional hard disk and second floppy disk, a first for Macs. In terms of computer design, this model remained the same but had an added flexibility. Setting itself apart from its predecessors, this model was the first to possess space for an internal hard disk as well as a fan.

Macintosh Classic (1990)

Macintosh LC
Macintosh LC

Featuring in all market sectors, Mac computers became increasingly familiar to the public. The Macintosh Classic was a rendition of Terry and Jerry Oyama’s 128K design and was given the nickname ‘pizza box’ because of the thin computer case.

Power Macintosh (1994)

Power Macintosh 8100-80
Power Macintosh 8100-80

This model featured a new PowerPC PISC processor, as well as advanced sound and video processing solutions. It was this addition that turned the Mac into ‘the’ computer amongst multimedia and creative professionals.

iMac G3 (1998)

iMac G3
iMac G3

It was in during the year 1998 that Macs took a real turn in regards to product design, getting rid of the tower design and taking on various different colour options. With Steve Jobs returning to Apple, the iMac mono-block computer was developed. The model was cased in coloured and white plastic and fashioned a 15 inch monitor. Also paired with the model was a matching coloured mouse and keyboard.

iMac G4 (2002)

iMac G4
iMac G4

This model was the first of its time to slim down unnecessary components. It was also the first Mac with an LED display that made the model appear almost lamp-like. Steve Jobs noted that CRT computer monitors were officially dead. It received the nickname ‘iLamp’ because of its extended rod, swivelling monitor and circular base.

iMac G5 (2005)

iMac G5
iMac G5

The iMac G5 was the beginning of the iMac as we know it today. Unlike its predecessor, the iMac G5 opted for a design in which the electronics were placed behind the screen. This model was still encased in white plastic but grew in size to a surprising 20 inches. In fact, this model paved the way for future iMac designs.

iMac (2007)

iMac 2007
iMac 2007

Undergoing further transformation, the iMac released in 2007 dropped its plastic case for that of aluminium. This decision worked to add a somewhat sleek and professional touch to the computer itself. In addition to that, the ultra slim aluminium keyboard also began to be sold alongside the model.

Macbook and Macbook Pro (2006)

Macbook 2006
Macbook 2006

Although there were a number of laptop-style computers prior to these models, the Macbook and Macbook Pro released in 2006 was perhaps one of the most notable. These models featured a magnetic latch, glossy display and an Intel-made processor. First editions were released in the colour black, which swiftly changed to the era of aluminium as we know it today.

Macbook Air (2008)

Macbook Air
Macbook Air

With the recent development of aluminium unibody-cases, laptops were becoming increasingly thinner. Released in January of 2008, the Macbook Air boasted a tiny 19mm size yet proved relatively low on productivity. As a result of the downsize, Apple encountered a number of functionality issues, however, quickly solved them within the first few years after its release. This model is most notable for its commercial in which the laptop was shipped in an envelope.

Macbook Pro Retina (2012)

MacBook Pro Retina Apple
MacBook Pro Retina

Around this time, new and innovative Mac designs were not very common. The Macbook Pro with retina display released in 2012 was perhaps the closest thing to perfect that the industry had seen. The new and improved display fashioned an ultra-high resolution screen with near invisible pixels.

Macbook (2015)

Macbook Pro
Macbook Pro

Breaking yet another record, Macbook entered the industry in 2015. The laptop weighed a total of 900 grams and fashioned a 12 inch retina display. The extremely small, streamline size of this model set itself apart from its competitors right off the bat.

Macbook Pro (2016)

Macbook Pro 2016
Macbook Pro 2016

Another great advancement in the Macbook line was the addition of greater speed and a touchscreen to replace a few keyboard function keys. This added functionality to the Macbook Pro could be used as a means to output notifications and enter information. Overtime, the size of the keyboard has increased, as well as its sensitivity.

Mac Mini (2018)

Mac Mini
Mac Mini

This model is the newest addition to the Mac family, functioning as a computer ‘box’. The Mac mini does not include a screen of any kind, and can be linked to any monitor of your choice. Notable changes include the cosmic grey colour and extremely compact size.

Over the years, Apple and its Mac products have been a dominant force within creative and design industries as tools for both students and professionals. Prominent changes that have taken place include significant price reductions and increased productivity and functionality.

The models featured in this article are constantly being updated, so keep a lookout for the latest versions of the Mac products via the Apple website. We hope this article provided you with some insight into how Mac products have evolved over the years, with more changes sure to come!

Join our Newsletter

Sign up now to stay up-to-date on industry trends, inspiring stories, helpful resources, and more.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related posts

When to rebrand your business

5 Signs You Need to Rebrand Your Business

The Indicators of a Brand Makeover As creatures of habit, it can be difficult to make big changes or alterations, especially when it comes to our careers. But just like that old t-shirt you love so much from 2002, the one with 3 stains and a couple holes around the...

imposter syndrome in design

Imposter Syndrome In Design: The Tell-All Guide

Learn to recognize and beat Imposter Syndrome Are you a designer who often feels like a fraud, despite your successes and accomplishments in the field? You may be experiencing imposter syndrome. Our in-depth guide delves into the different types of imposter...

Top 15 Procreate Brushes

15 Best Procreate Brushes in 2023

Must have ProCreate Brushes This article introduces 15 of the best brushes for use with Procreate. Each brush set is designed to create realistic strokes and textures and offers a wide range of possibilities to create beautiful digital artworks. Whether you're a...


Threadbasket Review

If you are in the POD business, you most likely know how overwhelming it can be: Should I design my own graphics, should I hire my own designers or is my money (and time) better spent buying ready-made designs and adapting them to my needs? While only you can know...

Why you should keep a travel journal

Why you should keep a Travel Journal in 2023

The Benefits of Maintaining a Travel Journal Take a moment and write in your travel journal - Photo by Michael Burrows - Pexels Creating a travelling journal is one of the best ways to capture and remember the meaningful experiences you have while travelling. From...

4 February Art Challenges

February Art Challenges of 2023

Are you looking to get back into an artful groove after missing out on the January Art Challenges? You'll be pleased to know that there are plenty of art challenges running through February that you can jump right into! We've compiled a list of some of the best art...

where to sell courses

Sell Online Courses

Sell your creative courses & tutorials Are you an expert in your field and looking for a way to share your skills and passion with others? Our platform was designed specifically for you, the creator. Whether you want to sell your tutorials and courses on our...

what is an art challenge

Art Challenges 2023: The Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about art challenges Welcome to this article on the basics of doing an art challenge! Art challenges are a great way to improve your skills, stay motivated, boost your creativity and connect with other artists. Whether you're an...

How to trace in image in Illustrator

How to trace an image in Adobe Illustrator

Tracing an image in Adobe Illustrator can be a useful skill to have if you want to create vector graphics or if you need to modify an existing image. Whether you want to trace an image manually using the Pen tool or use the Image Trace feature to automatically...

How to trace an image in affinity

How to trace an image with Affinity Designer

When you have designed a logo, illustration or other graphic artwork, it's often necessary to trace an image from bitmap to vector. The main reason to vectorize a bitmap image is because vector images can be resized without losing quality, making them ideal for use...

Share This