Steve Jobs’ Game-Changing iMac Turns 20 Years Old


Yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted that Steve Jobs’ game-changing iMac, which launched May 6 1998 and set Apple on a new course, has turned exactly 20 years old. The machine not only redefined the design and styling of tech products, but charted a strategic course that would lead Apple to become the world’s most valuable tech company.

The embedded video above shows Jobs describing the $1,299 iMac as an impossibly futuristic device. “The whole thing is translucent, you can see into it. It’s so cool,” says Jobs. He even takes a jab at the competition by saying, “The back of this thing looks better than the front of the other guy’s, by the way”.

According to Asymco, iMac boosted the sales of Macs from 2.7 million to 3.8 million a year at a time when Windows PCs were shipping about 100 million units. The historic machine was not only the the first host of OS X, but also gave Apple the space for its operating system to be developed and to be optimized for various hardware. 

Featuring an all-in-one design with a translucent blue shell, the iMac was absolutely breathtaking, especially when measured against the PCs of its day.

iMac’s design screamed “consumer product” which went from signaling inferiority to superiority. It set a standard for novelty, creativity and dynamism in the category that was considered second-rate. In the early 2000s consumers began to lead in the adoption of new technologies. DVD drives, internet connectivity, wifi, instant messaging, media consumption exploded. All the while institutions, hung up on legacy, began to block technologies. At this pivotal moment, the iMac spoke with its looks. It didn’t just imply a new order, it stated it.

For a brief stroll down memory lane, check out the full footage of Jobs introducing the original iMac below.