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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

My own personal Apple Store Time Machine

The Apple Store Time Machine is a project by Michael Steeber, who has been a go-to writer on Apple’s retail stores for many years. It’s a free Mac app called Shop Different, built with Unity, that lets you walk through four different Apple Stores as if you were in a video game. Steeber writes:

The Apple Store Time Machine is a celebration of the places and products that have shaped our lives for more than twenty years. This interactive experience recreates memorable moments in Apple history with painstaking detail and historical accuracy.

The stores are meticulous re-creations of the stores as they actually looked: The first Apple Store in Tysons Corner, Virginia in May 2001; the first “mini” store in Palo Alto in October 2004; the Apple Fifth Avenue store in New York in May 2006; and the Infinite Loop campus store in September 2015.

Steeber’s project brought up memories of my own. I covered the Palo Alto mini store opening for Macworld!

Steve Jobs (right) and Ron Johnson discuss the mini store concept before unveiling it.
Steve Jobs (right) and Ron Johnson discuss the mini store concept before unveiling it.

How accurate is it? I’ll let you decide for yourself – below is an image of the Time Machine and an actual photo from October 14, 2004—the day the store opened.

For those who don’t know, the “mini” store was a concept that let Apple get into very small spaces in shopping centers. Before the “mini” store was created, there were real estate markets Apple couldn’t crack. As momentum around Apple and Apple’s retail operations grew, that ceased to be a problem and the “mini” store faded away.

Steeber’s simulacrum (left) and Jobs and Johnson.

If you’ve got happy classic Apple Store memories, it’s worth downloading Steeber’s app and immersing yourself. Just remember that you can’t actually pick up that iSight box and check yourself out.

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