macintosh - Computer Definition
A family of desktop and laptop computers from Apple and the first computer to popularize the graphical user interface (GUI). Because Macintoshes were commonly called "Macs," Apple later changed the brand officially to "Mac." For an overview of the line, see Macintosh models. To learn about the origins of the Mac, see Macintosh history. The combination of Mac hardware and software has been consistent over the years, providing an ease of use that Mac users have enjoyed. Starting in 2006, Macs began using Intel x86 chips and can run Windows natively either as an alternative OS or simultaneously side-by-side in the same machine (see Boot Camp, Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion). Prior to the switch to Intel chips, Windows and DOS applications could run in a Mac using a Windows emulator such as Virtual PC. Since the mid-1980s, it has been essentially a Mac vs. PC world for personal computers, with Linux-based PCs gaining a little ground after the millennium. The First Macs The original Macintosh, introduced in 1984, contained one floppy disk drive and 128KB of memory. Its "high-rise" cabinet design and built-in 9" monochrome screen were unique. Maintained for a number of years and streamlined in its Classic model, the high-rise gave way to more traditional cabinetry for a while. Starting in the late 1990s, Apple returned to its roots by introducing the iMac and restoring its flair for distinctive cabinetry. Hardware Evolution The first Macs were powered by Motorola's 32-bit 68K family of CPUs. In 1994, Apple introduced the Power Macs, which used the higher-performance PowerPC chip designed by Apple, Motorola and IBM. Power Macs ran native PowerPC applications and emulated traditional Mac 68K applications. Over the years, PowerPC chips provided substantial increases in performance. In 2006, Apple began to switch the Mac line to Intel's x86 CPUs. The first Macs powered by Intel chips were the iMac desktop and MacBook Pro laptop (see Mactel). See G3, G4, G5, HFS, Mac OS X and Apple.