For other uses, see Macintosh (disambiguation) and Mac. The Macintosh 128K, the first Macintosh, was the first commercially successful personal computer to use images, rather than text, to communicate. Macintosh, or for newer models, Mac, is a brand name which covers several lines of personal computers designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc. The original Macintosh was released on January 24, 1984; it was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI) rather than a command line interface.
The idea for a personal computer appropriate for the ordinary consumer dates to the late 1970s and an Apple development team was established in 1979. After the success of the original Macintosh in 1984, the company quickly established market share only to see it dissipate in the 1990s as Microsoft came to monopolize personal computing. Apple consolidated multiple, consumer-level desktop models into the 1998 iMac all-in-one, which sold extremely well and saw the brand name revitalized. Current Mac systems are mainly targeted at the home, education, and creative professional markets. They are: the aforementioned (though upgraded) iMac and the entry-level Mac mini desktop models, the workstation-level Mac Pro tower, the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, and the Xserve server.
Production of the Mac is based on a vertical integration model in that Apple facilitates all aspects of its hardware and creates its own operating system that is pre-installed on all Macs. Apple exclusively produces Mac hardware, choosing internal systems, designs, and prices. Apple does use third party components, however; current Macintosh CPUs use Intel's x86 architecture. Previous models used the AIM alliance's PowerPC and early models used Motorola's 68k. Apple also develops the operating system for Macs, currently Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard". This is in contrast to most IBM compatible PCs, where multiple vendors create hardware intended to run another company's software. The modern Mac, like other personal computers, is capable of running alternative operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, and Microsoft Windows, the latter of which is considered to be the Mac's biggest competitor.