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Apple Innovations

Current Events, Misc | By The Top 13 on April 1, 2010

This Saturday, Apple will release the iPad, its first completely new major product since the iPhone and latest foray into tablet computing. While the jury is still out on whether the iPad will be another hit, Apple has released many groundbreaking and innovative products since it was established in 1976. Some of these have were Apple's own invention, while others took technology from other companies and brought them to a widespread audience for the first time. Today, we count down the Top 13 Apple Innovations, ordered by a combination of their impact on Apple as a company and the world at large.

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Mac OS

1

Mac OS

1984

Before 1984, personal computers generally were powered by drab command-line operating systems that displayed characters in a single font. The introduction of the Apple Macintosh and its Mac OS operating system in 1984 changed everything, making the graphical user interface or "GUI"- in this case, the use of a mouse to navigate a virtual desktop - commercially successful. While Apple did not invent the GUI (that honor is generally credited to Xerox), Mac OS was revolutionary and introduced consumers to concepts such as the use of a mouse as a pointing device and onscreen rendering of multiple fonts. Virtually every consumer operating system in use still follows this fundamental structure.

iPod

2

iPod

2001

2001 was an enormously important year for Apple, and the release of the iPod is the top reason why. The iPod was not the first hard disk-based MP3 player, but it was the first to gain major commercial success. Likely due to its simple interface and attractive design, it gained major traction and, along with iTunes, helped changed the perception of music being packaged in a digital medium. The iPod revitalized Apple as a company and was the catalyst that has enabled all of their subsequent innovations.

Apple II Series

3

Apple II Series

1977

The Apple II computer was one of the first highly successful personal computers. The platform remained a mainstay in personal computing well into the 1990s, particularly in American schools. Its color graphics and floppy disk capability (along with a relatively affordable price for the time, starting at $1298) helped establish Apple as a computer company and a force of innovation. Moreover, the VisiCalc program for the Apple II was the first spreadsheet program for personal computers, a major event in the world of business computing.

iTunes & iTunes Store

4

iTunes & iTunes Store

2001

While they are hard to segregate from the iPod, iTunes and the iTunes Store (which now sells music, videos, apps, and, thanks to the iPad, books) were perhaps even more revolutionary than the device itself. With the iTunes Store, Apple coaxed record labels (and later, movie and television studios) into the digital age. It is now the top music vendor in America, serving up over 10 billion song downloads in just its first seven years. The iTunes application enabled that success, popularized the database approach to media management, and introduced many PC users to Apple software.

iPhone

5

iPhone

2007

The iPod was the device that made Apple a serious player in the tech industry again; the iPhone is the device that pushed Apple (and its stock price) into the stratosphere. The iPhone is the best-selling smartphone on the market (with over 40 million sold) and was introduced in 2007 with an innovative, multitouch interface and feature-set that competitors have rarely matched. The genius of the iPhone is in the simplicity of its touch interface and its adaptability; with the right software or "app" (the term it helped popularize), it can serve nearly any function the hardware is capable of.

iMac

6

iMac

1998

Simply put, the iMac saved Apple. Following founder Steve Jobs' return to the company in 1997 and a cash infusion from rival Microsoft, Apple refocused and delivered a simplified computer reminiscent of the original Macintosh. The iMac set a trend in its abandonment of a floppy disk drive and was the first major product designed by resident wizard Jonathan Ive (who also designed the iPod and iPhone). Most importantly, it helped restore Apple to profitability and gave the company a new lease on life.

LaserWriter

7

LaserWriter

1985

Apple's LaserWriter printer was the first printer to ship with Adobe's PostScript interpreter technology, which allowed printing of multiple fonts and graphics in complex layouts on a single page. The LaserWriter redefined what was possible in desktop printing and - despite its retail price of $6,995 - is credited with sparking the desktop publishing revolution, which began in full swing with the release of Aldus' Pagemaker for the Macintosh in late 1985.

PowerBook

8

PowerBook

1991

The PowerBook set a standard in laptop design that all competitors eventually followed. It was the first laptop to feature a keyboard positioned away from the user to allow for a palm rest and trackball, just like all standard laptops today. The PowerBook 500, released in 1995, was the first laptop to feature a trackpad, which is also universal now. The first PowerBook was a hit, capturing 40 percent of the market, and the line remained vital for Apple until the release of the MacBook in 2006.

OS X

9

OS X

2001

The most recent major revision of Mac OS, OS X enabled Apple to mount a serious, ongoing challenge to Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system. While OS X's overall market share still hovers in the mid-high single digits, it has made major inroads in the home and laptop computer markets and is the second most-used operating system in the world by a significant margin. There have been six major upgrades to OS X each time enhancing the user experience without requiring a major overhaul. Its fifth and most significant, 2007's Leopard, enabled Intel CPU and 64 bit support, allowing Apple to utilize the best processors available.

Apple Store

10

Apple Store

2001

Apple has long tried to limit the use of its software to its own hardware, and the company applied this same concept to retail marketing with the opening of its first Apple Store in 2001 in Virginia. These stores, which sell both Apple wares and compatible third-party products, strengthened Apple's brand, gave it increased control over product rollouts, and offered a local tech support services for its products. There are now 287 (and counting) Apple Stores across the globe, and competitor Microsoft responded by opening its own, similar stores in 2009.

Newton

11

Newton

1993

The Apple Newton platform was ultimately a financial bust, but was revolutionary in that it was among the first personal digital assistants - or PDAs - to hit the market. In fact, the term PDA was coined by then-Apple CEO John Sculley during Newton's development. Newton, and the MessagePad devices it ran on, relied primarily on handwriting recognition, much like PDAs later made by Palm and other competitors. Apple's platform and hardware helped paved the way for stylus-based PDAs as well as the Blackberrys and iPhones that have replaced them.

iLife

12

iLife

2003

Apple's iLife software suite has been a significant weapon in the company's campaign against the dominant Windows platform. The suite, which includes photo (iPhoto), video (iMovie, iDVD), web (iWeb), and music (GarageBand) editing programs is now included with new Mac computers and allows Apple to argue that their computers - which are generally sold at premium price points - offer comparable value to their Windows counterparts and are superior for non-business functions.

iPad

13

iPad

2010

The iPad - the non-3G version of which is being released this Saturday - is Apple's second foray into the realm of tablet computing, following its unsuccessful Newton platform. Time will tell if the iPad will be another hit for the company or the first big miss for a major new product since the iPhone's release. The iPad is effectively a jumbo iPhone/iPod Touch and takes aim at eReaders and netbooks, offering greater functionality than the former and a smaller form-factor (and lots more glitz) than the latter. Whatever its long-term prognosis, we're betting that it's going to be a scarce item to find on shelves for the foreseeable future.

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Comments Leave a comment

stillathreat ★★

The iPod revolutionized the music industry; really has to be number one, doesn't it?

9:35 AM   Apr 01, 2010

jason ★★

Is that more significant than revolutionizing the computer industry and defining how virtually everyone today relates to computers? Without which the music industry may not have been revolutionized? Not in my mind. I do think the iPod is a close second though.

11:10 AM   Apr 01, 2010

KungFuJay ★★

Needs moar MacBook Wheel!

9:55 AM   Apr 01, 2010

PulpAffliction ★★

I was so worried that iPod was going to be number one, but I should never have worried; The Top 13 knows what's up. The Mac OS is one of the top three most important computer innovations of all time.

11:31 AM   Apr 01, 2010

PulpAffliction ★★

Also: bragging moment: my dad helped develop and was in charge of the launch of the Newton.

11:33 AM   Apr 01, 2010

IronShiek 

Fuck those Apple fucking jabroni's. All other computers are been nice to the Iron Sheik. IBMs, compaqs, the dells. But not Apples. They disrespect the Iron Sheik. The Iron Sheik will break iTunes back! iPods must be humbled. They think they iPods so fancy and shiny, but they are fucking joke. I will suplex those fucking jabroni iMac machines too. Fuck the Fucking Apple Innovations.

3:26 PM   Apr 01, 2010

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