The top 10 standout Macs of the past 25 years

The top 10 standout Macs of the past 25 years

Not all of them were home runs, but they all made a big splash

The Cube was also Apple's most compact desktop to date, using the G4 processor from its tall-tower cousin in a design a quarter the size. Unfortunately, the Cube's high price -- it went for $200 more than Apple's tower lineup, without the expandability -- made it an item most people looked at but never bought, and reports about cracks in the acrylic case marred the Cube's reputation early on.

Even so, the Cube showed Apple's fearless pursuit of cutting-edge design that also showcased engineering savvy. Cube fans still abound.

The (Intel-based) iMac (2006)

Six months before this iMac hit the market, Apple did the until-then unthinkable and announced that it was leaving behind the PowerPC architecture for good and moving to Intel Corp.'s Core Duo processor platform. Citing performance and power-efficiency improvements, Apple said the shift would allow it to engineer thinner, more powerful computers that would otherwise be impossible to do. Dreams of the oft-rumored PowerBook G5 vanished overnight.

On Jan. 10, 2006, during the Macworld Expo, Apple announced that its new iMac would be the first Apple desktop to feature the Intel chip set. In an effort to prove that a Mac was still a Mac despite the internal system changes, Apple left the iMac's features, price and case, which had incorporated the guts of the computer into the flat-panel display in 2004, unchanged. Performance, however, was touted as being two to three times faster than previous iMacs.

Oh, and buyers could run Windows on the machine, either virtually with third-party software or natively with Apple's Boot Camp software, giving users and businesses a safety net if they were switching from PCs to Macs.

Though it has been updated with an aluminum shell, the basic all-in-one styling of that flat-panel iMac still remains the standard for Apple's competitors.

Side note: The iMac wasn't the only Intel-based Mac to arrive at Macworld '06. Jobs also unveiled the 15-in. MacBook Pro. Mac fans loved the laptop, hated the name and bought it in droves.

The MacBook Air (2008)

During last year's Macworld Expo, Apple finally ventured into ultraportable territory -- its first foray into the niche since the discontinuation of the 12-in. PowerBook G4 in 2006 -- with the MacBook Air. (By contrast, the old 12-in. model looks more like a brick.)

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