The original Macintosh is the first successful mass-market personal computer to have featured a graphical user interface, built-in screen, and mouse. Apple sold the Macintosh alongside its popular Apple II family of computers for almost ten years until the latter was discontinued in 1993.
Early Macintosh models were expensive, hindering competitiveness in a market dominated by the much cheaper Commodore 64 for consumers, as well as the IBM Personal Computer and its accompanying clone market for businesses, although they were less expensive than the Xerox Alto and other computers with graphical user interfaces that predated the Mac. Macintosh systems were successful in education and desktop publishing, making Apple the second-largest PC manufacturer for the next decade. In the early 1990s, Apple introduced the Macintosh LC II and Color Classic which were price-competitive with Wintel machines at the time.
However, the introduction of Windows 3.1 and Intel's Pentium processor, which beat the Motorola 68040 used in then-current Macintoshes in most benchmarks, gradually took market share from Apple, and by the end of 1994 Apple was relegated to third place as Compaq became the top PC manufacturer. Even after the transition to the superior PowerPC-based Power Macintosh line in the mid-1990s, the falling prices of commodity PC components, poor inventory management with the Macintosh Performa, and the release of Windows 95 contributed to continued decline of the Macintosh user base.
Upon his return to the company, Steve Jobs led Apple to consolidate the complex line of nearly twenty Macintosh models in mid-1997 (including models made for specific regions) down to four in mid-1999: the Power Macintosh G3, iMac, 14.1" PowerBook G3, and 12" iBook. All four products were critically and commercially successful due to their high performance, competitive prices, and aesthetic designs, and helped return Apple to profitability.
Around this time, Apple phased out the Macintosh name in favor of "Mac", a nickname that had been in common use since the development of the first model. Since their transition to Intel processors in 2006, the complete lineup is Intel-based.
Its current lineup includes four desktops (the all-in-one iMac and iMac Pro, and the desktop Mac Mini and Mac Pro), and two laptops (the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro). Its Xserve server was discontinued in 2011 in favor of the Mac Mini and Mac Pro.
Apple has developed a series of Macintosh operating systems. The first versions initially had no name but came to be known as the "Macintosh System Software" in 1988, "Mac OS" in 1997 with the release of Mac OS 7.6, and retrospectively called "Classic Mac OS". Apple produced a Unix-based operating system for the Macintosh called A/UX from 1988 to 1995, which closely resembled contemporary versions of the Macintosh system software. Apple does not license macOS for use on non-Apple computers, however, System 7 was licensed to various companies through Apple's Macintosh clone program from 1995 to 1997. Only one company, UMAX Technologies was legally licensed to ship clones running Mac OS 8.
In 2001, Apple released Mac OS X, a modern Unix-based operating system which was later rebranded to simply OS X in 2012, and then macOS in 2016. The current version is macOS Catalina, released on October 7, 2019. Intel-based Macs are capable of running native third party operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, and Microsoft Windows with the aid of Boot Camp or third-party software. Volunteer communities have customized Intel-based macOS to run illicitly on non-Apple computers. Apple has confirmed that it will be transitioning to its own ARM-based processors for use in the Macintosh beginning in 2020.
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