Opinion: the Apple Mac is 40... and looking great in its middle age

Happy birthday Mac, haven't you come a long way...

Apple Macintosh on party background
(Image credit: Grm wnr / Jason Leung / Unsplash)

The Apple Mac is 40-years old today, having first burst onto the scene on 24 January 1984 and I don't mind admitting that I remember the original Macintosh well.

I didn't actually get to use or own a Mac until the SE arrived later that decade, but it still had a mono screen and all the compact charm of its predecessor(s).

Of course, things have moved on considerably since then, not least the price. The original Macintosh was launched for $2,495 – the equivalent of over $7,300 today, taking inflation into account. And while you can spec a Mac Pro around that amount, there are plenty of models that a far more affordable.

Processing has come on leaps and bounds, especially with the advent of Apple Silicon, which has transformed MacBook models in recent years. And while we don't quite have the beige box-shaped desktop unit today, Apple is still making beautifully designed all-in-ones in the form of the iMac.

They've just got bigger screens (24-inch in comparison with the 9-inch CRT built into the original), and a touch higher pixel counts – a mere 64.5x the resolution.

Apple Mac 40th anniversary logo

(Image credit: Apple)

There are a few things that tie 40 years of Apple Mac computers together though – desirability and design are two. Who didn't want a late-90s iMac with its transparent case and coloured sides?

And how about the first MacBook Air that you could pack into an envelope (or so the advert claimed)? Its influence still resonates today.

Naturally, the latest MacBooks have some super neat features to go with their looks, such as fanless design and up to 22-hours of battery life. My 14-inch MacBook Pro M2 Pro rarely has to be plugged in, for example, and I generally leave it on sleep mode rather than completely shut down.

That's not something you could really contemplate five years ago, let alone 40. And it'd probably have killed my Macintosh at the time.

Still, that old machine was such a joy to use – I wrote and designed three issues of Commodore Power on it, no less – and it's great to remember it fondly as Apple celebrates the 40th anniversary of its most significant computer family.

Here's to another 40 when it'll probably gain sentience, grow legs and release its own concept album. Until then, happy birthday Mac. Now have a sit down a minute, you've earned it.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.