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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 G3 'Wallstreet' (1998)

This sleek Apple laptop was the second generation of Apple's portable lineup featuring the G3 chipset, but it was also one of the first laptops to feature a then-huge 14.1in. screen enclosed in a lighter, more aesthetically balanced package. Apple even distributed posters of the machine.

Not only was it sleek and curvy, it was also one of the most expandable laptops Apple had ever shipped, containing not one, but two docking bays capable of holding batteries, optical drives or third-party add-ons such as zip drives. While the left docking bay was designed specifically for batteries, the PowerBook G3's hot-swappable nature meant its configuration could be adjusted on the fly. It became an instant classic.

While the Wallstreet version was a high point of design, versatility and power for its time, this model reached its pinnacle with the Pismo version. Released in February 2000, the Pismo had all of the benefits and looks of its Wallstreet older brother, but it came in a lighter, thinner case, had AirPort wireless networking, a FireWire 400 port and much faster hardware. Because the Wallstreet design set the stage for the later Pismo release, it gets the nod for top 10 status.

PowerG3_wallstreet

The PowerBook G3 'Wallstreet' (photo: Danamania, GNU FDL 1.2 licence)

The iBook (1999)

Jobs unveiled the iBook G3 - there's that G3 chip again - in July of 1999, thus filling what became known as its four-quadrant product strategy. Taking cues from Apple's consumer desktop, the recently announced iMac, and designed to be thrown into a backpack, the polycarbonate-clad iBook featured a distinctive clamshell shape, a tough plastic exterior, and a bold blue- or range-coloured rubber trim.

Like the iMac, the iBook ditched all legacy ports in favour of USB, and - again like the iMac - it featured a handle. This was also the first Apple laptop without a latch, a feature still being touted as a plus in 2008 models. It was the first to ship with Apple's circular wireless charger, around which the power cord could be wrapped without tangling.

Most importantly, it was the first-ever mainstream consumer device that showcased wireless networking, something Jobs nonchalantly debuted during the 1999 Macworld Expo & Conference. Dubbed AirPort, Apple's implementation of Lucent's wireless technology quickly allowed wireless networking with a minimum of fuss. Wireless technology had arrived.

ibook

The original iBook (photo: Jared Benedict, cc-by-sa 2.0 licence)

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 Power Mac G4 Cube

  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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