What is a Mac?

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'Mac' is a simple abbreviation for Macintosh, the line of personal computers designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc.  The original Macintosh was released on January 24, 1984 and since then, there have been numerous models, updates, and revisions to the Macintosh line.

The current Macintosh models are targeted towards home, education, and professional users.  Macs are known for their elegant design, ease of use, and user experience.  Macs combine elegance, power and style.

All new Macs come pre-installed with the Mac OS X operating system which is designed, built, and supported by Apple Inc. This integrated end-to-end approach allows all Macs to have full support from the operating system.  The end-to-end approach also allows Apple to build Macs with innovative features and technologies that ends up delivering an exceptional user experience.  Macs and the Mac OS X operating system go hand-in-hand.

Apple current Mac product line consists of the following models:

The current Macintosh models are powered by processors (CPUs) from Intel. In the past, Apple relied on other firms to provide the chips for Macs as Apple historically used competing processors such as the PowerPC.  In June 2005, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple would transition the Macintosh line from PowerPC processors to Intel processors.  The transition was completed on August 7, 2006.

Thanks to the Intel transition, Apple can ship Macs that feature Intel's latest processors.  As a result, Macs are no longer labeled as underpowered or overpriced.  Mac desktops start at under $600 and Mac laptops start at under $1,000.  All new Macintosh models ship with a minimum of 1GB RAM and the latest version of the Mac OS X operating system.   Also included with new Macs is the iLife suite of applications . Most Macs come with features such as:

  • Dedicated graphics thanks to graphics cards from either NVIDIA or ATI or an integrated graphics processor from NVIDIA or Intel
  • Either a SuperDrive - a DVD/CD burner multifunction drive or a Combo Drive - a DVD player and CD burner drive
  • Serial ATA hard drives
  • FireWire to support higher-performance devices such as external hard drives and video cameras (excluding the unibody MacBook)
  • USB 2.0 to connect external devices and peripeherals such as printers
  • 802.11g wireless networking
  • Bluetooth 2.1 or Bluetooth 2.0

Several Macs ship with features such as an integrated iSight video camera for video conferencing, an infrared remote control, and digital/analog audio in/out ports.  Professional Macs provide features such as Firewire 800 as well as more capabilities to run the most demanding applications.

Macs do Windows
PC users are stuck with a PC.  Mac users however can run the world's most advanced operating system Mac OS X and if they want, Windows and Windows-based software.

Apple's Boot Camp software allows you to boot into either Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows.   This flexibility allows your Mac to function as a Mac or a PC.   Virtualization programs such as VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac, provide Mac users the ability to run Windows and Windows software without leaving OS X.  You can even run other operating systems such as Linux and Solaris on your Mac.

Purchasing a PC limits your options because a PC cannot legally run OS X.  A Mac however is more versatile.  The choice is obvious, today's Macs are the most capable computers on the market that not only allow you to run Mac OS X and operating systems but Macs also allow you the flexibility to run a wider range of applications (programs).


  • July 13, 2008 - content revision and updates
  • January 23, 2009 - content revision and updates
  • February 26, 2009 - content revision and updates
  • May 3, 2009 - content revision
Created: 12:00 AM on Nov 12, 2006
By: switchtoamac