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By Jason Snell for The Verge
The original iMac entered a computing world that was in desperate need of a shake-up.
After the wild early days of the personal computer revolution, things had become stagnant by the mid-1990s. Apple had spent a decade frittering away the Mac’s advantages until most of them were gone, blown out of the water by the enormous splash of Windows 95. It was the era of beige desktop computers chained to big CRT displays and other peripherals.
In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to an Apple that was at death’s door, and in true Princess Bride style, he rapidly ran down a list of the company’s assets and liabilities. Apple didn’t have a wheelbarrow or a holocaust cloak, but it did have a young industrial designer who had been experimenting with colors and translucent plastic in Apple’s otherwise boring hardware designs.
With Jobs’ brains, Jony Ive’s designs, and the new PowerPC G3 chip supplied by Motorola, the company began to form a plan. Essentially, Jobs went back to his playbook for the original “computer for the rest of us,” the Mac, to sell simplicity. The Mac’s mouse-driven graphical interface may have changed the course of the PC world, but its all-in-one design just hadn’t clicked. Jobs decided it was time to try again.