Apple History: Original iMac bowed on this date in 1998…and the tide was turned.

Original Apple iMac from 1998, in Bondi blueConsidering how high the company flies today, it’s sobering to recall the lows Apple hit in the 1990’s. Apple spent the bulk of that decade frantically scrambling to come up with a hit, introducing one failed product after another: a digital camera, a portable CD audio player, powered computer speakers, a gaming console (no, really), and a bizarre set-top box for television. CEO John Sculley bet the farm on Apple’s entry into the nascent “personal digital assistant” category, resulting in the Newton – innovative, before its time – and to this day, one of the most spectacular failures in the company’s history. Literally dozens of indistinguishable Mac models were trotted out, with a bewildering alphabet soup of names, numbers, and specifications.

The original iMac went off like a torpedo to the bow of the Good Ship Computer. It looked and operated like nothing the world had seen.

Market share continued to erode, stock prices plummeted, and Microsoft Windows was mopping the floor with Apple. Sculley was succeeded by Michael Spindler, who was superseded by Gil Amelio. In July 1997, a desperate board of directors fired Amelio amidst record-low stock prices and staggering financial losses.

It was arguably Apple’s darkest hour.

Then co-founder Steve Jobs stepped back up as interim CEO (dubbed “iCEO”), drastically pared down the sprawling product line, and began working on a radical new design with Jonathan Ive.

You can see what they came up with in the photo above. The original iMac went off like a torpedo to the bow of the Good Ship Computer. It looked and operated like nothing the world had seen. And it effectively saved the company, selling almost 800,000 units in its first five months.

Jobs and Ive would later collaborate on the iPod and iPhone, among many, many other projects. Apple was on a roll – a roll that has yet to slow.

Connecting Point's own Scott Farmer takes the original Apple iMac for a test drive - August 16, 1998
Photo credit: Bob Pennell, Mail Tribune

Feel like a little more nostalgia? Read an August 16, 1998 Medford Mail Tribune article about the original iMac’s introduction. Connecting Point is prominently featured in the story – along with a face long familiar to our customers.

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