On its 40th anniversary, 40 things we love about Apple

Happy 40th birthday, Apple!


April 1, 2016

Forty years ago today, Apple was born. No one could have ever predicted the rise of the company that the two Steves started in a garage. Forty years later, the world is forever changed.

And not just the world of technology—Apple’s products, and our own experiences using them and writing about this company have left an indelible mark on all the Macworld staffers and contributors too. Here for your entertainment, we collect 40 of those experiences, those products, those game-changing moments that made us Team Apple for life. But what about you? What do you love about Apple more than anything else? Let us know in the comments, and we hope you’ll join us in raising a glass to the company that continues to change the world. Happy anniversary, Apple.

apple think different

Think Different

I don’t often admit it, but my first PC wasn’t a Mac. I could blame it on my school’s Windows requirement, but the truth is, I was quite happy with my IBM Thinkpad and its new UltraBay swappable drive slot—a massive improvement over the Canon Starwriter I had used for years.

But not long after I bought it, I saw Apple’s first Think Different ad. A black-and-white montage of visionaries flashed across my TV while Richard Dreyfuss payed tribute to “the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels,” and it spoke to me. Nary a computer was shown, but sight unseen, I wanted one. It would be a couple of years before I saved up enough money to buy a Power Mac, but the Think Different campaign gave me a connection to Apple even when I was using my Thinkpad. Buying the computer simply sealed the deal.—Michael Simon

1997 expo bill gates

The return of Steve Jobs

1997: Steve Jobs was back at the helm of Apple. His first keynote after his return was in Boston at Macworld Expo. I worked for MacUser magazine and attended the keynote.

At the time, Apple was on shaky ground, and a lot of people didn’t fully understand the dire state of the company. When Jobs announced that Microsoft made a $150 million investment into Apple, the crowd booed, and when Microsoft CEO and founder Bill Gates made a 1984-like video appearance, those boos turned into gasps, wails, and heckling. I even saw a few users start to cry. If I didn’t understand fandom before, I did at that event.

Also, during that trip, I started dating the woman who is currently my wife. We’ve been happily married for 16 years.—Roman Loyola

ipod launch

The iPod launch

Rumors abounded that Apple was going to make an MP3 player, but the original iPod was much more than we anticipated. Steve Jobs took the stage with 1,000 songs in his pocket, and how we consume music changed forever. Many of us in the audience had been listening to MP3s on our computers or early MP3 players by then, but Apple was concerned most people wouldn’t understand how the iPod worked. That’s why every member of the press in attendance didn’t just get a preproduction iPod, pre-loaded with music, to try out—we also each got a taped-up stack of audio CDs to represent the music that had been loaded on our iPods.

The iPod’s 5GB was, at the time, a mind-boggling amount of storage. My Rio 500 player’s internal memory could hold about 10 songs; the iPod could hold my entire MP3 collection. The rest is history.—Jason Snell

kanye west 2005 apple getty
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

If you ain’t no punk, holla, “We want prenup!”

In September 2005, Apple held an event to introduce the iPad nano and the Motorola ROKR phone. The musical guest, however, stole the show. It was Kanye West; you might know him as Yeezus or Mr. Kim Kardashian. He performed a cleaned-up version of “Gold Digger.”

You probably couldn’t pick an artist that was more ill-suited for the audience of corporate mucky mucks, tech journalists, and Apple VIPs. I sat in the back and saw a crowd that sat stiffly during West’s performance, except for a couple who stood up and danced ungracefully in place, as if to prove they were more hip than everyone else. After the song, Kanye’s social commentary stretched the awkward moment a few minutes more.

What did Steve Jobs and Apple think about Kanye? When they released the video of the event, they cut Kanye’s performance. The video fades away after Jobs summarizes the iPod lineup. As far as I know, there’s no publically available video of Kanye’s performance. However, I did find a photo from the event from Getty Images (above), so I swear, it actually happened.—Roman Loyola

wwdc15 ios9 cue karaoke

My first WWDC in 2006

So clearly the iPhone introduction in 2007 was the best Steve Jobs keynote I ever witnessed. I mean, wow. (I totally fell for the bit about the three different products at first, as my handwritten notes would prove.) But like they say, you never forget your first.

My first keynote was WWDC 2006, barely a month after I’d joined the staff of MacAddict, soon to relaunch as Mac|Life. I sat with Roman Loyola and Niko Coucouvanis, but not with the press—with the developers, the “true believers,” as Niko called them, because we knew it’d be more fun.

And it was! This was the last keynote pre-iPhone, and it was a Mac show through and through. Apple showed the new Mac Pro tower, the last piece of the Intel Mac puzzle, and I still remember the appreciative roar that went up when the presenter explained that the memory risers had thumb screws that could never fall out to rattle around in the bottom of your tower. WWDC has a crowd that appreciates—no, that truly delights in—Apple’s attention to detail, and it’s the most fun event to cover as a journalist, because that enthusiasm is always at least a little bit contagious. Just ask Eddy here.—Susie Ochs

2007 keynote iphone

An iPod! A phone! Are you getting it?

I’ve worked for three Mac publications (four, if you split MacAddict and Mac|Life), so I’ve been to a fair share of Apple keynotes. I was fortunate enough to attend the 2007 Macworld Expo keynote while working for Mac|Life (along with Macworld Executive Editor Susie Ochs, who was also at Mac|Life at the time).

This keynote, where the iPhone was unveiled, was the best one Steve Jobs gave. Some may say the Mac reveal in 1984 was his best, and maybe it was for the young Steve Jobs. But in the 2007 keynote, the older, wiser Jobs was able to be an entertaining, charismatic, and informative showman with gravitas.

Also, consider Apple history before 2007. Jobs brought the company back from collapse. Apple was healthy. The next step was to show that the company can be innovative again. That’s what the 2007 iPhone keynote was all about.—Roman Loyola

Steve Jobs holding the original iPhone
REUTERS/Kimberly White

The first iPhone

Rumors of an improbable “iPhone” abounded before the January 2007 Macworld keynote, and, sure enough, Jobs wowed us—after making one of his rare jokes about the worst combined features of an all-in-one device.

Little did I expect, working then as a freelance columnist for the Seattle Times, that in a briefing following the event I’d be allowed not just to see, but touch and play with an iPhone. It was like holding a piece of the future, more responsive and attractive than any smartphone of its time. I felt like I’d be dropped through a wormhole, and given a glimpse of things to come. That phone now seems like something made in the 1800s in comparison to current models, but it was magical at the moment.—Glenn Fleishman

Steve Jobs at WWDC
Ben Stanfield (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Reality Distortion Field

Steve Jobs’ keynotes are legendary. From the thrill of the reveal to the superlative-stacked statements of superiority, Steve had a knack for making the most mundane of details seem spectacular.

But his marketing abilities didn’t represent the true power of the Reality Distortion Field. The expression was coined back in 1981 by Bud Tribble, one of the original members of the Macintosh team, to describe Steve’s seemingly impossible shipping and engineering expectations. With equal parts charisma, stubbornness, and sheer will, Steve was able to achieve fantastical feats unattainable by any other company. His refusal to accept the limitations of time and physics left not just a legacy but a philosophy that is still evident in every one of Apple’s products. From Apple Watch to the 5K iMac, Apple continues to make the impossible possible, creating products that don’t just bend reality, but make it a little better.—Michael Simon

tony bennett
Getty Images News

Tony Bennett performing at the Macworld Expo

Apple would no longer have a giant booth at the Macworld Expo and Conference, it came down in 2009. No one knew whether this would spell doom for the show—and, in fact, Apple’s withdrawal was in advance and in parallel of many other firms’ cuts to this kind of direct custom interaction.

We didn’t know how Apple would send off the final keynote, and Steve Jobs was known for bringing out well-known musicians on stage for both demos and closing performances. But I don’t think anyone was prepared for the reveal when Tony Bennett was introduced to sing the most appropriate, if slightly tweaking, songs that were his signatures: “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “The Best Is Yet To Come.” Chills and thrills, and the classiest possible way to finish. You do you, Apple.—Glenn Fleishman

steve jobs memorial
Glenn Fleishman

Seattle's University Village memorial to Steve Jobs

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that Steve Jobs died. It was in the afternoon, and I had just pulled up to pick up one of my kids from preschool when my editor called me to ask if I had thoughts I wanted to write up.

Steve’s passing moved me in a way that I don’t think any but family and close friends had affected me before. I knew I didn’t know the man, I knew he was a commercial titan—yet his passing seemed like the end of an age of new thinking. I wasn’t alone. I visited the Apple Store in Seattle’s University Village not long after. It was being rebuilt into a bigger footprint, and the front wall was a wall painted matte black—very Steve, that. Some people had brought and left chalk. Many had left messages, photos, flowers. He symbolized so much to so many people, and he was cherished.—Glenn Fleishman

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First visit to an Apple Store

From the moment I saw pictures of the first Apple Store at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, I couldn’t wait for one to open near me. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait too long—on November 3, 2001, Apple’s fourteenth retail store opened at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, and I was there when the doors opened.

Inside, the store was filled with Macs, but outside those of us in line were treated to a sneak peak of Apple’s next big thing. I was one of the first to hold the iPod, due to be released the following Friday, to spin its clickwheel, and to try out the earbuds. And as I slapped the hands of the Apple Store employees and collected my free T-shirt, all I could think of was the iPod. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Steve Jobs’ plan was never about sales—it was about creating the ultimate showcase for Apple’s products.—Michael Simon

40 things we love about apple packaging
Christopher Phin

Hardware packaging

Yeah, Apple makes nice-looking stuff, but it’s a testament to the company’s relentless attention to detail that the experience of owning it starts even before you take it out of the box. While for years even companies as ostensibly premium as Sony packaged their beautiful products in fiddly, multi-partitioned brown cardboard boxes wrapped in a thin card sleeve festooned with logos and marketing lines, Apple realised that your relationship with a product—and with the company itself—started as soon as you got the box in your hands.

And that’s why the early iPods came in chunky cubes that split apart like a geode, revealing the shiny treasure within. It’s why today when you lift the lid on a box for a MacBook, an iPhone, an iPad, an Apple TV, it’s right there, immediately laid bare for you to marvel at. And it’s why now even the bulky brown boxes that hardware ships in are designed and considered, with easy-open tabs and clean, simple supports to hold the retail box protectively in the center. First impressions matter.—Christopher Phin

genius bar

After-sales care

There are increasingly fewer differences these days between a Mac and a Windows PC, but there’s one reason above all to recommend Apple to anyone in the market for a new computer: its after-sales care.

If you’re lucky enough to live within range of an Apple Store, popping in to take one of their free hour-long training sessions is a great way to get more from your devices, and hardware and software support at the Genius Bar is like nothing else any manufacturer offers. You don’t have to look far to see stories of employees using their discretion and “bending the rules a little” to get you a great result, even if your problem is entirely self-inflicted. Plus there’s now @AppleSupport on Twitter, and early indications are that the folks staffing it actually listen to your problem and try hard to resolve it rather than fobbing you off with pre-set phrases and links to support documents.—Christopher Phin

apple store lines

Waiting in line on product launch days

For the new generation, waiting in line to snag the latest iPhone or iPad is a rite of passage. But it wasn’t always like that. It wasn’t too long ago when the latest Apple products were hard to find in stores—not because they were flying off shelves, but because CompUSA and MicroCenter didn’t stock them.

But that changed with the Apple Store. The first overnight queue I can remember wasn’t for an iPod or an iPhone—it was an OS X release. At 10:20 p.m. on August 23, 2002, Apple “unleashed” the latest version of its operating system at its 35 retail stores across the country. At the Clarendon, Virgina, store, there were about 50 of us, and while it would be years before it would become commonplace, the sense of camaraderie was instant. As we waited in the cold, sharing setups and swapping specs, it felt like we were a part of something special, something real, something a PC user would never understand.—Michael Simon

40 things we love about apple personality
Christopher Phin

Personality-packed products

It’s easy to forget—today when all of Apple’s hardware is sleek, minimal, and crisp, when its forms have been refined almost to the point of banality—that for a glorious, insane, unprofitable period, culminating around the middle of the company’s life, it made products that were absolutely bursting with personalty. The friendly upturned face of the Macintosh and its compact Mac successors; the shocking delight of the eMate, its first translucent computer; the Luxo Jr.-like iMac G4; and the fabulously preposterous excesses of the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.

These and dozens of other examples in hardware and software are a big part of why a certain generation of us became and remain fans of Apple—even when that playfulness and humor seems to have evaporated.

Some of these designs and the men and women who created them are clearly a bit bananas, but here’s to the the crazy ones, right?—Christopher Phin

apple ii

Apple II

I’d just moved to a new city, a university town in Oregon, and was still feeling my way around in 1980. Then I discovered a computer store a bikeable distance from my home. They had a variety of microcomputers, including a brand called Ohio Scientific Inc. (OSI), but more importantly, they were an Apple II reseller. They ultimately even had one of the few Apple III’s ever made that worked. They could have shooed me away, but they tolerated and sometimes encouraged me, and I would drop by regularly, and program on their machines. I bought some software and eventually an OSI computer that shared the same 6502 processor as the Apple II (it was a mere $333 versus the $666 or so for the Apple). But seeing a programmable, almost-affordable friendly graphics-capable machine? It inspired me, leading me deeper into programming, and later into graphic design, web design, and even journalism.—Glenn Fleishman

mac se wikipedia

My first Mac: Macintosh SE

In high school, my journalism class bought a Macintosh SE. I didn’t have a computer at home, so I used that Mac as much as I could, even staying hours after school so I could do my homework on it.

When I graduated, I still didn’t have my own computer. I had a few months to come up with the money to buy one before college started, and at the time, I considered any computer—Macs were more expensive than a PC running DOS.

When the fall came, I had enough to buy a PC but I really wanted a Mac. Apple had a program that sold discounted Macs at the college bookstore, and I was able to convince my father to pay for half of a Mac SE.

The Mac I bought with my dad was the first one my family owned, but I consider that Mac from high school my first Mac. During my senior year, my high school teacher even let me take it home during winter break. That Mac opened doors for me and led me to where I am today.—Roman Loyola

apple laserwriter

Freakin’ laser beams

Apple gets a lot of credit for moving the digital revolution forward with its computers and gadgets. For me, Apple’s LaserWriter printer was just as important a tool as the Mac.

I first started using the LaserWriter in my high school journalism class. Instead of constructing pages by physically cutting pages of text and graphics and then waxing them to blue layout grids, we used PageMaker to design the pages. It cut down production so drastically that it gave us time to write more stories or work on our reporting skills. We ended up more than doubling the newspaper’s page output from the previous year.

Later, the desktop publishing skills I developed and the great-looking output of the LaserWriter helped me produce polished papers in college. I’m certain that I got better grades because my papers looked more professional than my peers.—Roman Loyola

iMac G3

The first computer I ever touched was an iMac G3. Not because I’m that young, but because they just didn’t have computers back in the small town in Mexico where I was born. I moved to the U.S. when I was 10, and promptly started the 4th grade without knowing English very well. Selby Lane was the quintessential Californian elementary school, with a giant redwood tree in the parking lot, classrooms that smelled like crayons and teachers’ morning coffee, and lots and lots of Latino students like me. Selby Lane also had a computer lab full of iMac G3s.

When the iMac first came out in 1998, the first Apple product designed by Jony Ive was certainly eye-catching. People had never seen anything like it before. So clearly a room full of them in every color–lime, strawberry, blueberry, grape, and tangerine–left a big impression on a 10-year-old who had never seen a computer before.

Every day instead of playing with the other kids during lunch, I would go to the computer lab, sit in front of an iMac and fire up ClarisWorks (if I had homework to type out) or Internet Explore 5.0 (if I wanted to browse through Simpsons fansites). And it was inside that computer lab where I learned English, with the iMac as my personal language teacher.

When introducing the iMac, Steve Jobs said that it looked like it was from another planet. “A good planet. A planet with better designers,” he said. And he was right. The iMac G3 took me to that planet.—Oscar Raymundo

og macbook

Burned by Dell

I wasn’t planning on buying a MacBook. I used iMacs on my college campus, but my parents had given me a Dell laptop for my high school graduation gift, and two years in, I was pretty sure I would finish college with it.

Then my hard drive crashed and burned with no warning. Of course, 19-year-old me never backed up her data, so two years of schoolwork and photos vanished in an instant. A new hard drive cost me hundreds of dollars, and my laptop was never quite the same. After a few more months with my Dell, I marched down to the campus bookstore and used my student discount to buy a white MacBook, which is still trucking along after 10 years. Sure, it needs to be plugged into the wall at all times to function, and it’s obviously no longer my daily driver. I keep meaning to recycle it, but it reminds me that a laptop should always be this reliable.—Caitlin McGarry

ipod mini

My first iPod

Like many millennials, our gateway to Apple products was the iPod.

“My first iPod was the blue iPod mini. I started college in 2004 without a car, so I walked everywhere. I suddenly realized that I had nothing to listen to on my walks to class and no music to accompany my lengthy library study sessions. What were my classmates doing to solve this problem? I wondered. They either went without tunes, like I did, or owned iPods. I requested one as a Christmas gift from my parents, and they obliged. It was life-changing.

“I have so many memories of wandering the campus with my earbuds in, reading political theory treatises with my earbuds in, pondering the meaning of life with my earbuds in. It seems strange to think about now, but being able to carry my music in my pocket was a revelation. I was hooked. Two years later I bought my first MacBook, then the iPhone, and never looked back.”—Caitlin McGarry

“I saved up to buy my first iPod back in 2004—a 20GB fourth-gen iPod with the clickwheel—when I was a senior in high school. Before the iPod, I kept stacks of CDs in my car and a Sony Discman in my backpack, but I always had to swap things out and anticipate what I’d be in the mood to listen to. Having my entire catalog stored in a device the size of my hand was the ultimate dream.

“My first iPod was with me during many defining moments of my young adult life. It helped me move across the country to start college, consoled me during my first big breakup, coached me through late-night study sessions, kept me company on the subway, and entertained my friends during many dorm room dance parties. I really considered it to be an extension of myself. By the time it kicked the bucket in 2009 (yes, it lasted for five whole years!), the iPhone 3GS had been released, so my next move was pretty clear—but I still think back fondly on the iPod’s glory days.”—Leah Yamshon

apple tv primary
Christopher Phin

The Apple TV

There was no point for me to buy movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store before I got my first Apple TV, and hooking up that device opened the floodgates. Apple had solved the “last mile” problem of getting those videos from my Mac to my TV, and the whole thing was so popular at my house that we eventually cut cable altogether and haven’t looked back.

Today we rely on a mix of Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and yes, movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store. But we watch less “junk” without the constant stream of cable TV, and the new Apple TV’s Siri Remote is so easy to use, even houseguests and my 4-year-old have no trouble finding just the right thing. —Susie Ochs

visual voicemail

Visual Voicemail and Messages on my very first iPhone

Yes, in 2008 when I bought my first iPhone—the 3G—the world still used the term “visual voicemail” to describe Apple’s voicemail interface. You know, instead of just calling it “voicemail” (or, in 2016 terms, “that place I hope you never send me to ever again, because why are you leaving a voicemail anyhow?!”).

But eight years ago, Apple’s voicemail scheme was a revelation. No longer did I have to suffer the indignity of pressing physical buttons to retrieve messages. I could just touch a name in a list, and voila, the voicemail played. Even better, deleting a voicemail was just another simple touch gesture. Only much more satisfying.

Ditto Messages. Threaded text conversations were fun and awesome. And best of all: No longer would I have to coax reasonably coherent English out of a number keypad. The iPhone had a keyboard!

Today, these innovations are just gimmes in the quotidian fabric of life. But as I recall using my very first iPhone, they were more important than apps themselves.—Jon Phillips

icloud shared album

Sharing family memories

When Apple released iCloud Photo Sharing for iOS, I had no plans to turn it on. Apple’s iCloud services can be a little wonky (though they’ve improved), and with social media, I figured I shared enough photos.

Then my older sister had a baby. I live 3,000 miles away from my family and my sister doesn’t use Facebook, Instagram, or any other social network. She does, however, have an iPhone. So when my niece was born, she created a shared iCloud album and invited our immediate family members to be contributors.

That iCloud album has given me a window into my niece’s life. Every week, even two and a half years on, there are new photos and videos of her doing funny things and being generally adorable. When my sister forgets to share photos, other family members pick up the slack. Although I only see my favorite kid a couple of times a year, I feel like I see her all the time.

My sister had her second baby earlier this month, and he already has his own iCloud album. His big sister is a constant guest star.—Caitlin McGarry

monopoly guy

The Profligacy of Old Apple

Steve Jobs famously came back to Apple when it was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. At least some of its financial trouble was of its own making. When I first encountered Apple professionally in the mid–90s, it seemed to be spending money on a whole lot of nothing. Building an object-oriented operating system with IBM? Sure! Build a server that ran an IBM unix-based operating system? Why not! OpenDoc, Project X… there are dozens of wild-idea projects that Apple pursued in the mid-’90s that never showed any sign of going anywhere and were summarily killed when Jobs wisely insisted that Apple focus on real products.

The company also used to occasionally host lavish media/VIP events with none of the discipline of today’s Apple events. I distinctly remember attending an event at a hotel that had something to do with QuickTime, but honestly nothing sticks with me except the expense of the catering, the large list of celebrities Apple had flown in, and the nice gift bag.—Jason Snell



I’m a sucker for a foreign accent, or any exotic accent really—even you, Boston. While I’m not above smiling every time I hear Jony Ive’s silky smooth pronunciation of “ah-loo-min-ee-um,” his charming English accent isn’t even No. 1 on my list of Best-Accented Apple Executives of All Time.

While I have to give an honorable mention to newcomer Jimmy Iovine’s perfect Brooklyn-ese, my top honors are forever reserved for former Apple software exec Bertrand Serlet, whose glorious French accent made digs against Windows and its reg-ess-tree sound more civilized and refined than ever. Today, Serlet is leading cloud storage startup Upthere, but part of me wishes he was still around to tell me about all ze new theengs coming to OS X every year. —Susie Ochs

apple parenthood ad

Raising the iGeneration

Like any first-time father, I can remember each one of my son’s milestones. First smile. First steps. First word. But there’s one I didn’t expect: first swipe to unlock.

For parents of children born after 2007, the iPhone is a major part of the rearing process. It’s not just its amazing ability to calm a hyper child; the iPhone has transformed the way parents can capture, connect, and communicate with our little ones. There are connected baby monitor apps for when mom or dad have to work late. FaceTime for the grandparents. And having a top-notch camera in my pocket whenever my kid does something adorable is pretty awesome.

But what surprised me was how quickly my son took to my iPhone. When he was six months old—even before he could walk—he figured out how to unlock my iPhone, and soon after he could open and read The Monster at the End of This Book, without any help from me. Apple’s simplicity may be useful for adults, but watching my son expertly navigate my iPhone before his second birthday gave it a whole new meaning.—Michael Simon

first gen ipad

iPad launch day, April 3, 2010

It was a Saturday. I woke up early, hauled my ass to the nearest Apple Store, and stood in line for the device that would repair the tarnished reputation of the tablet form-factor overnight. The iPad would also make consumers completely rethink their next computer purchases. Indeed, for me the iPad was the most impactful product launch in Apple’s history.

I was already a very happy iPhone user, but I knew the iPad would fill in all the gaps on my iOS wish list, so I had to have one on Day One. I was addicted to web browsing on the iPhone, but it was still a chore on the phone’s puny 3.5-inch display. The same with gaming—I needed more real estate. I just knew the iPad would kick ass.

So that was April 3, 2010. And I have literally used an iPad (or one of its DNA descendants) every single day since then. On my couch. In bed. On a chaise lounge. Call me lazy. I don’t care. Apple’s first tablet changed everything.—Jon Phillips

rip mix burn

Rip. Mix. Burn.

Before there were playlists, there were mixes. As a kid, I was obsessed with making mixtapes, which I would create by diligently listening to the radio and recording my favorite songs.

Mixtapes fell by the wayside, but mix CDs were on the horizon. In 2001, Apple launched iTunes, released an iMac with a CD-RW drive, and celebrated both with its “Rip, Mix, Burn” campaign. I didn’t have a Mac at the time, but I was still blown away, and when iTunes came to Windows, I spent hours making mixes. My friends were the beneficiaries of this technology—in fact, we still laugh about the ridiculous album art I created to complete my perfect mixes.

Now I make playlists out of streaming music catalogs instead of creating CDs with MP3s, but there was nothing quite like making—and receiving—a real mix. I miss those days.—Caitlin McGarry

apple mice

Apple's puck mouse

The so-called hockey puck mouse is easily the most derided product Apple has ever released. The ultimate example of Apple’s perceived priority of form over function, it matched the iMac in both color and attitude, but unlike the PC, the mouse didn’t launch a revolution. It was too small, too awkward, and too uncomfortable to use for very long stretches, but it was hard not to admire its spirit.

During its two-year lifespan, many of them surely found their way into desk drawers, but those who stuck with it shared a deeper connection to Steve Jobs’s vision, even if it left you with hand cramps at the end of the day. The little circle mouse was a testament to just how bold and different Apple thinks, even if it occasionally leads down the wrong path.—Michael Simon


The time I may have helped save AppleScript?

It’s funny to think of now, but in the early days of OS X, Apple had to make a serious effort to sell it to skeptical users of the classic Mac OS. In those days the Mac’s strongest market was probably in design and publishing, and a lot of publications used complex automation macros built with AppleScript to get the job done. Rumors were flying that Apple’s management wasn’t prioritizing AppleScript on OS X, and it might not make it in to the final product.

At the end of an OS X event at Apple’s Town Hall conference center, Steve Jobs opened the floor up for questions. I got the microphone, described how Apple’s publishing customers relied on AppleScript, and asked point blank if AppleScript would be included in OS X. Jobs’ reply was two words: “Of course.”

I only heard later that this was news to the members of the AppleScript team, who had heard the same rumors of their impending doom.—Jason Snell

Siri with my son

Siri is a time-saver, but she likes to goof off too, and my toddler son loves asking Siri questions about space, the weather in other places, to tell him jokes, or to remind him “what the fox says.”

He’s getting more into music these days, and if he hears a song that he doesn’t know the name of—and I don’t know either—he’ll ask Siri to “sha-zam diss song,” and she replies right back with the title and artist. When I was a kid, I was constantly looking up words and concepts in our dog-eared encyclopedias, and I think it’s pretty cool that Siri can be one of the first steps my son takes when he wants to learn about something new. Oh, and she’s great at setting the timer for four minutes when he’s having a time-out too. —Susie Ochs

applesoft basic

Applesoft BASIC

When I was a kid, acquiring and running commercial software was hard—but writing your own was relatively easy! Every Apple II computer came with AppleSoft BASIC, a programming language, built right in. By the time I was in high school I was convinced that I knew every single command available to me in BASIC, and I probably did. (This should’ve been a sign for me to learn a new programming language, but I somehow passed that by.) From simple “hello world” programs to complicated messaging systems saving data files to disk, I ended up writing thousands of lines of all-caps computer code between the ages of 10 and 18. Today’s kids have to make a lot more effort if they want to get started with programming.—Jason Snell


Katie Cotton

Once “the most powerful communications exec in tech” was also described by some as an “evil queen,” probably only because she was a woman. Katie Cotton, Apple’s former VP of worldwide corporate communications, retired after 18 years in 2014.

During her time at Apple, Cotton worked very closely with Steve Jobs and was responsible for some of the company’s biggest, most show-stopping product launches, including the iMac and the iPhone. Cotton was also integral in giving Apple an air of unrivaled mystique. Let’s just say that if Cotton were still in charge of Apple PR, I don’t think we would’ve seen Tim Cook chatting it up with Stephen Colbert on national TV.

But when Cotton retired, she was not met with warm goodbyes from her colleagues in the media. Instead, reporters harked on and on about how difficult, distant, controlling, and off-putting she was to the press, going insofar as to calling her “frigid” and a “dominatrix.” Wow, really?

I never got the chance to work directly with Cotton, but boy, would I have wanted to. If anything, for a good-old-fashion eye-staring contest. I can understand how frustrating it might be to have to rely on a mean PR person to do your job, but I also think it comes with the territory. The most important stories are the ones that other people don’t want you to tell. Cotton raised that bar and gave reporters a real challenge. It was our job to step up to it.—Oscar Raymundo


Number Munchers (and my elementary school's computer lab)

As a kid in the 90s, one of the best parts of my school week were the two hours we got to spend in the computer lab, which was filled with Macintosh LCs—and of course everyone’s favorite part of the lesson was the last 20 minutes when we got to play games. My game of choice? Number Munchers, an educational math game that involved moving your character (Muncher) around a game board and solving math problems while avoiding getting chomped by bad guys (Troggles). That game was my jam.

My family had a computer at home, so naturally, I asked my dad if we could get a copy of the game. However, we had a PC—our first full-on Windows PC, after previously having a machine running MS-DOS. (Shoutout to 1993.) And that meant no Number Munchers. My first-grade self was crushed as my dad explained how the Apple computers at school were different, thus ushering in my first introduction to the long-lasting Apple vs. Microsoft saga. And I already knew which side I wanted to be on.—Leah Yamshon

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Apple Stores abroad

The first time I was ever away from my baby son overnight was for a work trip to England, which ended with a free day in London—a wonderful perk, even if it was mainly to reduce my airfare by keeping me there over a Saturday. I was trying to use my iPhone as an iPod touch to avoid roaming charges, so part of my wanderings around the most gorgeous city I’ve ever seen included a pilgramage to the Apple Store at Covent Garden, so I could sit down, use the free Wi-Fi, and FaceTime with my baby as he woke up in his crib, eight time zones away.

Since then, whenever I’m in a foreign city, I inevitably wind up at the Apple Store, even if I’m not planning to stop there for any specific reason. Something about the familiar logo and those beautiful products nestled into a beautifully designed storefront just draws me in. Plus, you know, the Wi-Fi is really excellent. —Susie Ochs

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Roman Loyola

The Playboy Mansion and a cool jacket

In 1996, I went to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), reporting for MacUser magazine. This was during the CD-ROM boom and I was invited to a media event at the Playboy Mansion for the announcement of a CD-ROM featuring Pamela Anderson.

At the time, I wrote a lot about Mac games. I made plans to meet up with the Apple games evangelist (yes, they once had a games evangelist) at E3, and I told him about the Playboy event. Of course, he wanted to go with me and begged me to get him an invite. I got him in, and we saw the infamous grotto and a few Playmates, but we weren’t allowed in the Mansion itself (though I somehow made it into the foyer and left before security found me). Hugh Hefner visited for 5 minutes, clad in silk pajamas and a smoking jacket. Pamela Anderson never showed up.

A few months later, to show his gratitude, the Apple games evangelist sent me a package. It was a leather bomber jacket with a patch on the back for the Apple games team. I still have the jacket (pictured above) and have worn it twice.—Roman Loyola

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The iTunes Festival

During the summer of 2008, I was fortunate enough to see a boat-load of concerts for free as part of the iTunes Festival (now the Apple Music Festival)—Apple’s annual “celebration of music” where live performances are broadcasted via iTunes and the Apple TV. These shows take place over the span of a month or so throughout various venues in London, and I took full advantage of Apple’s goodwill when I was there for a study abroad program.

To make sure they had a packed house for every show, Apple gives tickets away through a lottery system. My classmates and I ended up winning tickets to a bunch of events—Death Cab for Cutie, Florence and the Machine, The Ting Tings, CSS, John Legend, and N.E.R.D., among others—and we streamed the ones we couldn’t get into. That summer was pretty much all iTunes, all the time, and I loved it. 

While the iTunes Festival may have dwindled in popularity since then, I’m looking forward to seeing what Apple does with it under the Apple Music banner. Keep the live shows coming, Apple!—Leah Yamshon

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HAL 9000–Y2K Bug commercial

When people think of famous Apple Super Bowl ads, the first one that generally comes to mind is the Ridley Scott-directed dystopian teaser for the original Macintosh. But for those of us who are too young to have enjoyed the ad when it ran, 1999 was our 1984.

It doesn’t get quite the same accolades, but Apple’s Y2K ad was just as powerful. Featuring the homicidal HAL 900 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey, it painted just as bleak a picture of a not-so-distant future, preying on people’s fears that the new millennium’s double zeros would bring technological ruin: “It was a bug, Dave.” From the hum of the mainframe to the dead-on imitation of Douglas Rain’s measured delivery, Apple perfectly captured the mood and monstrosity of Kubrik’s anti-hero, right down to its very human jealous streak: “You like your Macintosh better than me, don’t you Dave.”—Michael Simon

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Subscribing to Macworld

Some 25 years before I became the editor-in-chief of Macworld, I subscribed to the print magazine as a curious, first-time Mac user. I had just bought a used Macintosh Plus, and had countless questions on how to actually use it—especially since my previous computer was a 286-based PC that ran on command line prompts. So my new subscription to Macworld was essential for OS tips, software recommendations, and just plain, straight-talking Apple-oriented knowledge.

But back then, in 1990, Macworld was more than just a utilitarian resource for me. In many ways, it was also a career entry-point. I had subscribed to other magazines (does MAD count?), but Macworld was the first modern tech-enthusiast magazine that I ever adopted as a regular, monthly fan. To that extent, Macworld didn’t just give me PageMaker tips. It also helped inform a lifelong career. —Jon Phillips

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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