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The 10 best Apple Macs of all time

Stand out Apple PCs from the past 25 years

While Apple may be known for its small-enough-to-fit in your pocket devices now, it wasn't always like that. As the company celebrates its 25th anniversary, we look back at its products and pick the 10 best Macs of all-time.

The PowerBook 100 series (1991)

On October 21, 1991, Apple unveiled its new portable lineup, which included the PowerBook 100, 140 and 170. These 'good, better and best' models, the culmination of a joint venture between Apple and Sony, featured a 10in monochrome screen and yielded a design that became the blueprint for all subsequent laptop designs from all computer manufacturers.

Apple's earlier attempt at a portable Macintosh - aptly named the Macintosh Portable - weighed in at a not-so-portable 7.2kg. But it did introduce the trackball to mobile computing, in this case located to the right of the keyboard.

The PowerBook line placed the keyboard back toward the LCD screen, allowing room for users to rest their palms. It also conveniently allowed Apple to locate the trackball at the centre of the palm rest. That made it easy for either left- or right-handed users to operate the machine.

The PowerBook series also introduced Target Disk Mode, which allowed the laptop to be used as a hard drive when connected to another Macintosh using the built-in SCSI port. It also came in a fashionable dark gray, breaking from the standard beige of the PC industry.

The PowerBook 100 series brought in $1bn in revenue for Apple in its first year, and its impact is still felt to this day. If you're using a laptop with a trackball or trackpad between your palms, you can thank the PowerBook 100 design. (If you've got a trackpad, you can thank the PowerBook 500. In 1991, that particular model was still three years away.)

powerbook_100

The PowerBook 100 (photo: Danamania, GNU FDL 1.2 license)

 

The Power Mac G3 (1997)

The Power Macintosh G3 represented a new beginning for Apple because it was the first computer unveiled after the return of CEO Steve Jobs, who had immediately cancelled Apple's cloning licences with third-party computer manufacturers. He also slashed Apple's product line from dozens of models to just a few core products.

The Power Mac G3 was the beginning of Apple's steps toward the use of industry-standard components to cut costs, and Motorola's G3 chip represented a performance improvement over earlier chipsets while using far less power.

The first Power Mac G3 came in beige, with chip speeds starting at 233MHz. And the G3 chip set became the foundation for Apple's entire computer lineup until the introduction of the even faster G4 processor two years later. In fact, variants of the G3 would be used by Apple until 2003.

powermac_G3

The Power Mac G3 (photo: Klodo6975)

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today's best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs


NEXT PAGE: The iMac

  1. In 25 years, these are the machines that stand out
  2. The Powerbook 100 series and the Power Mac G3
  3. The iMac
  4. The PowerBook G3 'Wallstreet'
  5. The Power Mac G4 Cube
  6. The MacBook Air and the iPhone


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