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The Macintosh [ ˈmækɪntɒʃ ] from the Californian company Apple was the first microcomputer with a graphical user interface that was produced in large numbers. The name is derived from the McIntosh apple variety ; the abbreviation Mac [ mæk ] established itself early on among users . Today, Apple's personal computers also officially bear this product name - in combinations such as Mac mini, MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Pro . "Macintosh" is no longer used internally either. “Mac” was also part of the name of the Mac OS (until 2001) and macOS (from 1999, originally under the name Mac OS X ) operating system series running on the devices .


Prototype of the first Macintosh model, 1981
The first Macintosh model from 1984 (Macintosh 128k)

The first Mac was the successor of technically similar but economically unsuccessful and 10,000  USD expensive Apple Lisa . The Macintosh 128k was introduced on January 24, 1984 by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs . The " 1984 " commercial for the Mac was shown at Super Bowl XVIII . At the price of 2,495 USD (about 7,200 corresponded then  DM / approximate retail price in Germany: DM 10,000, the latter corresponds approximately 9,300 EUR today) gave a computer based on Motorola's 68000 - CPU , with 8 MHz was clocked at 128 KB Main memory (RAM) could access - which quickly proved to be insufficient. A 3.5-inch floppy disk drive with 400 Kbytes of storage space and an integrated 9-inch monitor completed the first Macintosh.

Like its predecessor Lisa , the Macintosh was also equipped with a graphical user interface and a mouse . The mouse operation and basic features of the graphical user interface were licensed by the company Xerox, which developed this concept in 1973 with the Xerox Alto , which Apple then took over and modified under license for its models from 1979 onwards. The Macintosh's operating system originally had no name and was just called "System" (with the version number appended). From version 7.5.1 it was called Mac OS (derived from Macintosh Operating System ). Right from the start, it was tailored to be operated with the mouse and at that time contained revolutionary concepts such as the “recycle bin”, with which the deletion of files could be undone, the “ desktop ”, drag and drop , and the selection of Text or objects for the purpose of changing the attributes and navigating in the file system with the help of icons . Other fundamental concepts that were supposed to relieve users of the reluctance to use computers, which was still widespread at the time, were the undo function and the uniform operation of various application programs .

Despite these innovations, the new computer was initially only sold in small numbers. The reasons for this were seen in its high price and in the fact that its shape and type of use were far from what was commonly understood as a professional computer at the time (monitors with green letters on a black background and long command lines ). Only the successor models of the original Macintosh were able to attract a larger user base, which then achieved a high overall market share, but was later overtaken in numbers by IBM-compatible PCs with initially DOS and later Windows . The market share of the Macintosh had dropped to a low of between three and five percent, depending on the counting method. With the introduction of Mac OS X , the market share rose steadily and reached around 13% in the US in 2011 and around 6% worldwide.

From summer 1994 to September 1997, the classic Mac OS was licensed to other computer manufacturers (including Umax and Power Computing ). The Macintosh-compatible computers resulting from this license were called Mac Clones .


Macintosh timeline

MacBook Air MacBook MacBook MacBook Pro iBook PowerBook Duo Macintosh Portable PowerBook Mac Pro Power Mac G5 Power Mac G4 Xserve eMac Power Mac G4 Cube Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh Power Macintosh Macintosh Quadra Macintosh LC Macintosh II Macintosh XL Mac mini Macintosh TV Macintosh Color Classic Macintosh Classic II iMac Macintosh Classic Macintosh SE/30 Macintosh Performa Macintosh SE FDHD Macintosh SE Macintosh Plus Macintosh 512K Macintosh 128K Extensible Firmware Interface New World ROM Old World ROM

Current products

Illustration Surname Market segment description
Mac mini Mac mini Private users The Mac mini (“Late 2014” generation) is the smallest and most affordable Macintosh model with a footprint of 17.9 × 17.9 cm and a height of 4.6 cm. It is delivered without a monitor, keyboard and mouse. It is offered in three models, each with different levels of equipment. Either an i5 or i7 processor (only the two more expensive models) with the “Haswell” chipset is installed, the clock rate of which is either 1.4 GHz, 2.6 GHz or 2.8 GHz. It is offered with a storage capacity of up to 2 TB, as an HDD, SSD or Fusion Drive. Furthermore, the mac mini comes with up to 16 GB of RAM. Either an Intel HD Graphics 5000 or an Intel Iris graphics unit takes care of the graphics. The back of the device houses Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, 2x Thunderboldt 2, headphone and microphone jack and an SDXC slot.
iMac iMac Home and professional users (As of 2012) The iMac is equipped with a processor from the Intel Core i series . As an "all-in-one design" it combines computer and screen in one housing. Mouse and keyboard (wireless) are included. The iMac is available with a 21.5 "TFT monitor in 1080p and 2.5 / 2.7 GHz (Core i5) as well as an upgrade option with a 2.8 GHz Core i7 processor. The 27" monitor Variant (2560 × 1440 pixels) comes with a 2.7 / 3.1 GHz (Core i5) or a 3.4 GHz processor (Core i7). The graphics chips used are AMD Radeon HD 6750M (21.5 "), 6770M (21.5" and 27 ") and 6970M (only 27"). The main memory can be selected between 4 and 16 GB and the hard disk space between 500 GB and 2 TB.

Since August 8, 2011, Apple has been offering a special, slimmed-down educational iMac in the USA, with a 3.1 GHz dual-core Core i3, 2 GB RAM (up to 8 GB expandable), 250 GB hard drive and a Radeon HD 6750M with 256 MB graphics memory (and without the new Thunderbolt connection) should be a 21.5 "model with reduced performance at the lowest possible price.

iMac Pro Professional users The iMac Pro is the most powerful model from Apple and is only really attractive for professional users. The case is almost the same as in the standard version, only a bit thicker and in a darker shade of gray. The iMac Pro comes with the Magic Keyboard 2 and the Magic Mouse in black, which are only available for the iMac Pro. All versions of the iMac Pro have a 5K (5120 x 2880) and 27-inch display. The processors range from an 8-core Intel Xeon W to an 18-core Intel Xeon W. Either a Vega 56 with 8 GB or a Vega 64 with 16 GB is installed as the graphics unit. The DDR4 memory ranges from 32 GB to 128 GB and is expandable. A 1 TB, 2 TB or 4 TB M.2 SSD is used as the storage medium.
Mac Pro Mac Pro Professional users The Mac Pro is Apple's workstation model. The design has been completely revised compared to the previous model. The Mac Pro is no longer in an aluminum tower case, but in a box-like, shiny case. The Mac Pro is very quiet thanks to the use of a thermal core, a kind of metal frame around which all components are attached. However, the CD / DVD drive and most of the expansion options, e.g. B. PCI.

The Mac Pro comes with an Intel Xeon-E5 3.7 GHz quad core as standard. You can also choose to equip the Mac Pro with a 3.5 GHz 6 core, a 3.0 GHz 8 core or a 2.7 GHz 12 core. Two AMD FirePro D300 (2 GB memory each) are installed as standard graphics cards. You can also have two AMD FirePro D500 (3 GB memory each) or two AMD FirePro D700 (6 GB memory each) installed. The main memory is equipped with 12 GB as standard (3x 4 GB, 1866 MHz DDR3 ECC), but can (also later) be upgraded to 64 GB.

MacBook Pro MacBook Pro Home and professional users 13.3 ": The smallest MacBook Pro has an Intel dual-core i5 processor with 2.7 GHz or 2.9 GHz. It does not have its own graphics processor, but uses the Intel HD 6100 GPU built into the processor.

13.3 "with Retina display: Like the 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina, this MacBook no longer has a CD / DVD drive and the new case (1.8 cm high, weight approx. 1.6 kg). A retina display was also installed, it has a resolution of 2560 × 1600 pixels and a pixel density of 227 ppi. An Intel Core i5 dual core with 2.4 GHz or 2.6 GHz or an Intel Core i7 with 2.8 GHz is installed as the processor. It doesn't have its own graphics processor, but uses Intel's Iris Graphics. The main memory is equipped with 4 GB or 8 GB.

15.4 "with Retina display: A completely new MacBook Pro model (" MacBook Pro with Retina Display ") has also been available since June 2012, which not only has a new housing (1.8 cm high, 2 kg heavy, no optical drive installed), but also a new display with double the resolution of 2880 × 1800 pixels and a pixel density of 220 ppi. It was revised again in mid-2013 and is now available with Intel Haswell processors. These are Core i7 Quad Core processors with 2.0 GHz, 2.3 GHz or 2.6 GHz. Intel's integrated Iris Pro Graphics takes care of the graphics, and there is also an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M with 2 GB memory.

17 ": This MacBook Pro is no longer available since June 2012.

All MacBooks have an illuminated, full-size keyboard without a number pad. The MacBook Pro 13 "is available with a 1 TB hard drive or SSD with up to 512 GB, as well as with up to 8 GB RAM. The Retina models have options for an SSD with up to 1 TB storage. The Retina models are available with up to 16 GB RAM, but this cannot be expanded after purchase.

MacBook Air MacBook Air Private users The MacBook Air is a notebook designed for low weight and mobility. Depending on the configuration, it weighs between 1 kg and 1.3 kg and is 17 mm thick. It is delivered without an optical drive. Any optical USB drive including the SuperDrive , a burner from Apple, can be used. It is also available in display sizes of 11 ″ and 13 ″. Each MacBook Air has an SSD with either 128, 256 or 512 GB capacity and 4 or 8 GB of RAM. Either an Intel Core i5 dual core with up to 2.7 GHz and 3 MB L3 cache or an Intel Core i7 dual core with up to 3.2 GHz and 4 MB L3 cache is used as the processor Commitment. The HD Graphics 6000 integrated in the processors is responsible for the graphics in all models .
MacBook Air MacBook Private users The MacBook is the latest in Apple's line of PCs; a particularly thin notebook. Its weight is around 1 kg and it is 12 mm flat. The screen has an integrated 12 "Retina display with a resolution of 2304 × 1440 pixels in 16:10 format, which is based on IPS technology. It is supplied without an optical drive, whereby each optical USB drive incl. The SuperDrive , a burner from Apple, can be used. The MacBook has an SSD with either 256 or 512 GB capacity and 8 GB of RAM. An Intel Core M dual-core processor is used as the processor; depending on the model with one clock rate from 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3 (with Turbo Boost 2.4, 2.6 or 2.9) GHz. The HD Graphics 5300 integrated in the processors is responsible for the graphics in all models .


The Macintosh is named after the McIntosh apple variety . The McIntosh was the favorite apple of Jef Raskin , who was a member of the Macintosh design team. An alternative name during the development phase of the project was “Bicycle”: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs saw the computer, ultimately called Macintosh, as “Bicycle for your mind”, but the new name did not catch on due to the resistance of the development team.

In 1983 Apple signed a 10-year license agreement for the Macintosh name with the US hi-fi manufacturer McIntosh Laboratory , Inc.

Technical Equipment

A MacBook from early 2006

It was typical for the hardware of the compact Macintosh models to combine as many basic functions as possible on the motherboard . From the beginning , graphics, sound and network-compatible serial interfaces were integrated in the compact models ( Macintosh Plus , Macintosh SE , Macintosh Classic , etc.), shortly afterwards ADB and SCSI and later Ethernet and modem were added. Eventually FireWire and USB became standard. Entry-level devices such as the iMac can only be expanded with external connections. The models of the Pro series offer greater flexibility with internal PCI and AGP or PCIe slots.

The processors were initially manufactured by Motorola , later also by IBM . Motorola, however, has completely concentrated on the production of cell phones, while IBM no longer developed PowerPC processors in versions optimized for Apple. Therefore, after the announcement in 2005, the entire model series was converted to Intel processors. On January 10, 2006, the first Intel iMac and the Intel-based MacBook / MacBook Pro series of laptops (successors to the iBooks and PowerBooks ) were presented. In the same year, the workstations ( Mac Pro ) and servers ( Xserve ) were converted to Intel processors.

With the first iMacs, common components (such as USB) were increasingly used instead of in-house developments (such as ADB). Existing industry standards like ATA became standard in Mac computers too. Apple's early commitment to WLAN , Bluetooth, or FireWire as young industry standards helped these techniques spread.

While Apple continues to develop its own motherboards, since 2006 the components used in computers (processors, controllers, graphics, sound, network chips) have been the same as in other computers. Instead of the BIOS, however, the Extensible Firmware Interface is used. Since the switch to Intel processors, Windows can be installed on Apple computers using the Boot Camp software . The technical equipment of Mac computers shows no relevant differences to other PCs. However, due to the composition, the motherboard design and the conception of the overall computer and its own, largely proprietary operating system, Apple still retains control of the overall device.

For this controlled computer platform, Apple develops the operating system itself. According to Apple, hardware and software should be well coordinated, which prevents driver problems and improves energy efficiency. Hardware and software should form a unit as a product.

Further technical features are or were:

  • NuBus slots and PDS slots (Processor Direct Slot), later PCI slots and AGP or PCIe ,
  • SCSI , later Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) and FireWire
  • Apple Desktop Bus (ADB), later USB
  • Video output: originally a proprietary system with coding of the monitor properties using so-called sense pins in the connector, now ADC with a combined signal / power supply cable , current models have the common VGA or DVI monitor connections. Since March 2009 Apple has been using the self-developed mini version of the VESA DisplayPort standard in all products .

operating system

The first version of the macOS operating system used by Apple for the Macintosh until 2012, which was introduced in March 2001 and was called Mac OS X until 2012 , has practically no technical similarities with its predecessors (named). Mac OS X was developed on the basis of the NeXTstep operating system, a Unix derivative. Its manufacturing company NeXT , which Steve Jobs had founded in 1986 after his departure from Apple, was taken over by Apple in 1996 for 400 million US dollars. The Unix core of Mac OS X, including English Core OS called, was Darwin baptized and is a NeXTStep and partly FreeBSD derived open-source -Unix derivative, just like the Mach - kernel XNU . This makes it possible that a large part of the open source software, which was developed under other, open Unix derivatives, can also be used under macOS or can be ported to the Macintosh with relatively little effort. (See also, for example, MacPorts , Fink, and Homebrew .)

The so-called Aqua surface is based on the kernel , a completely redesigned user interface compared to the "classic" Mac OS, the design elements (transparency and shadow effects, more detailed icons) are also included in the interfaces of Unix / Linux and Windows systems found. In addition, however - a novelty for the Macintosh - operation via the Unix-type command line is also available.

With the launch of the Boot Camp software in April 2006, it became possible for the first time to start a Macintosh with an operating system for x86 processors , which enables a Windows or Linux operating system to be installed in parallel.

See also


  • Alan Deutschman: The Second Coming of Steve Jobs. Broadway, 2001, ISBN 0-7679-0433-8 .
  • Andy Hertzfeld: Revolution in the Valley. O'Reilly Books, Sebastopol / CA 2004, ISBN 0-596-00719-1 .
  • Leander Kahney: The Cult of Mac. No Starch Press, San Francisco 2004, ISBN 1-886411-83-2 .
  • Guy Kawasaki: The Macintosh Way. Scott Foresman Trade, Glenview 1989, ISBN 0-673-46175-0 .
  • Scott Kelby: Macintosh ... The Naked Truth. New Riders Press, Indianapolis 1989, ISBN 0-7357-1284-0 .
  • Steven Levy: Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything. Penguin Books, New York 2000, ISBN 0-14-029177-6 .

Web links

Commons : Macintosh  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. Official Apple website - Mac mini. Retrieved October 9, 2018 .
  3. Apple - MacBook Air - Technical Specifications
  4. ^ McIntosh Laboratory Part 2. In: Retrieved March 2, 2015 .