Apple Macintosh: The tool of choice for designers

Computer screen with Apple logo on it with the text: A designer's love.

Introduced 39 years ago today, the Apple Macintosh is one of the most important computers ever made. It is one of the first computers with a graphical user interface (GUI), a built-in screen, and a mouse. Even though computers are a common tool for designers today, historically there was a void between computers and art. The introduction of the Apple Macintosh successfully helped overcome this barrier and changed the design world into a better place.

Marcus Radich, CTO and co-founder has been collecting vintage computing gear since 1998. We dusted off a few from his collection in celebration of another year of loving the Macintosh – and we take a look at why this design is so iconic and loved.

So why was the launch of the original Apple Macintosh personal computer so defining? Let’s revisit the mid-80s…

The introduction of Apple Macintosh in 1984

You might have been listening to Billy Joel’s Tell her about it during the Super Bowl break when you caught a glimpse of the Ridley Scott directed a 60-second ad for Apple Computer – an ad that triggered a waterfall of ads trying to top this marketing milestone since.

Black and white scenes describing a dystopian world (so alike to George Orwell’s novel 1984 that his estate sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple just a few months later in April). Big Brother is destroyed by a hammer-wielding female athlete at the precise moment the voice announces “we shall prevail”. Cue the voice-over saying:

“On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

Never would a designer’s life be the same.

Apple Macintosh: The disruptor

The Macintosh was the first mass-produced Apple computer that was mouse-driven and had a built-in graphical user interface – schmancy, never-seen-before UX making this computer so much more attractive to use. For the first time ever, creators could experience WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) – the printed result keeping true to the design file.

Originally priced around $2,500 (more expensive than several other competitors’ models), it still sold well, tapping into a market of writers, artists, designers…creatives who wanted to use a personal computer that was attuned to them as creatives. The combination of Apple LaserWriter, Aldus Pagemaker, the Macintosh birthed the design industry that we see today.

An original Macintosh from 1984

Fond memories of Apple Macintosh

Those that remember the good old design days, will recall iconic Macintosh models over the years: the Macintosh IIfx, the Quadra 950, the Power Macintosh 8100, and of course the G5

From its beginnings in 1984 through to the last of the compact Macs (the Macintosh Color Classic in 1993 pictured below, also in our office), today’s modern Apple Macbooks and iMacs still share DNA with these originals.

The Macintosh Color Classic in 1993 (note: In New Zealand ‘Color’ was changed to ‘Colour’).

Personal preference

Fast forward to today, most designers continue to feel more at home on Macs. Although there are no longer any major differentiating factors between the Mac and the Windows PC. It all really comes down to a matter of personal preference. You can design a great site on a PC just as well as you can develop a great site on a Mac. What matters now is which platform you prefer to work with. Also, if you are an avid Adobe user, you will love PageProof & Adobe CC’s integration. It it simple to create pixel-perfect proofs directly from inside your Adobe apps, and it has been called “a match made in designer heaven”. Book a time to chat with an expert below.

Note: This blog was updated in January 2023.