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Why was Apple’s first computer called Macintosh and when did they become iMac?

Apple was founded with the purpose of making computers that people could have in their home or office and easy to use, one of them has become omnipresent.

The journey from Macintosh to iMac

Two college dropouts, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, started up a company that would go on to revolutionize how people envision a computer. Apple Computers, Inc was launched on 1 April 1976 with the purpose of making computers that people could have in their home or office and easy to use. The logo for the company, a half bitten apple, has become omnipresent decorating some of the most sought after tech gadgets.

While the company’s first computers carried its namesake, today its line of Apple personal computers for the home or portable are named after the favorite apple of the person who originally conceived what he envisioned as an affordable, easy-to-use computer for the masses.

From Macintosh to iMac

The Macintosh was the brainchild of Jef Raskin who was working for Apple in the late 1970s. He originally wanted to name the computer after his favorite apple the McIntosh, but due to legal reasons needed to make a slight adjustment. He was given a team in 1979 to develop the concept which was to be a low-cost, easy-to-use computer for the average person.

While Apple had scored success with its Apple I and Apple II computers, the second revolutionized the computer industry by introducing the first-ever color graphics, its third line, Lisa released in 1983, was commercially unsuccessful. However, crossover from that project enhanced the capabilities of the Macintosh with the incorporation of the Motorola 68000 microprocessor on its mother board.

When its performance exceeded expectations, it caught the eye of Steve Jobs and he turned his focus from the Lisa project to Macintosh in 1981. However, heads butted and Raskin left the team that same year. Three years later it went on sale to the public and quickly surpassed sales of Lisa which had been released the previous year.

It included two features that were unpopular at the time but are now ubiquitous, the mouse and graphic user interface.

The original iMac G3 from 1998
Full screen
The original iMac G3 from 1998

Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985, but he would return just over a decade later as the company he had founded was struggling. In 1998 the iMac was launched, it was an all-in-one desktop computer with a distinctive gumdrop shape. The ease of setting up and connecting it to the internet straight out of the box helped make it an instant success and gave the Macintosh a name change.

But where did the “i” come from? According to Ken Segall who worked for the LA ad agency handling Apple’s account, he pitched the name to Jobs twice before he convinced him. Jobs had wanted to call it the MacMan. The “i” he said stands for “internet” but also for “innovation” and “individuality” as the product was both revolutionary and personal. The prefix would go on to be attached to products across Apple’s line of devices and software.