3. It launched on the Internet wave
Apple's first marketing angle with the iMac relied heavily on the expanding popularity of the Internet in the mid-1990s. With the "i" in "iMac" being short for "Internet," Apple billed the iMac as an easy way to get connected to the global network (in just two steps, according to one Apple advertisement). By focusing on the iMac's Internet aptitude, Apple chose a unique way to differentiate its product from other computers and to leapfrog to the top of the consumer PC heap. It worked.
4. It introduced USB to the masses
The iMac's sole reliance on the USB interface meant that Mac users had to throw out all their old mice, keyboards, scanners, printers, and external drives. The computer's lack of SCSI ports particularly scared Mac pundits, who long relied on SCSI for external storage. But at the same time, the iMac provided the first kick-start USB needed to really get off the ground. Thanks to the iMac, many peripheral manufacturers launched their first-ever round of USB computer accessories -- it was no coincidence that most of them shipped in transparent blue-green housing.
5. It killed the floppy drive
Apple launched the Sony 3.5-inch disk drive with the Macintosh in 1984 -- and 14 years later, the company killed it with the iMac, which included no floppy drive whatsoever. The press greeted the decision to omit removable storage with considerable skepticism. But the absence of a floppy drive was a bold statement -- Apple was declaring, "From now on you will use the Internet and local networks to transfer your files." And Apple was right, even if the company was slightly ahead of the curve: these days, most computers lack a floppy drive, and users barely miss it.
6. It set standards for industrial design
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when George Foreman Grills are following your lead, it's time to change things up.
The next time you see a consumer thingamabob with a translucent plastic case -- especially those available in multiple candy colors -- you can thank (or curse) iMac chief designer Jonathan Ive. After the release of iMac, multicolored translucent plastic housing became such a common staple in the consumer products industry that the iMac's 1999-2000 Technicolor parade of models almost became a parody of itself. Apple had to move on, dropping the bright array of colors from the product line with the release of the flat-panel iMac in 2002. Even then, other companies came along for the ride: most consumer electronics devices now ship in brushed aluminum, frosty white, or glossy black--the colors of more recent iMac iterations.
7. It redeemed Steve Jobs
During a power struggle in 1985, Apple executives forced Steve Jobs to resign from the company he co-founded. After Apple purchased NeXT in 1997, Jobs returned to Apple and soon became "interim CEO." The world looked to him to turn Apple around, and he delivered: after dumping unprofitable product lines and streamlining the business in general, Apple was back in the black. But no amount of fiddling with the budget could compare symbolically with the success of the iMac -- clearly Jobs' baby -- which served as a concrete reminder of his uncanny ability to inspire those under him to create incredible products. The iMac's success meant Jobs' success, and it inspired the Apple faithful to follow him once more.