For all the people that know me, they know that I am NOT an Apple person, and for all the people that are getting to know me, I am NOT an Apple person. Windows and Linux, that's what I use and live by. This article is about Apple, because I'm just trying to be a little fair, so here we go..... And you may be a little surprised at these..
Apple (almost) inventions
Apple has a way of taking cool ideas, improving upon them and sending its competitors on the chase to play catch up. Here are five examples of technologies that Apple moved to the mainstream -- some of which Apple did not invent
In the early 90’s, all laptops came equipped with a bulky trackball to mimic the functionality of a mouse. That all changed in May of 1994 when Apple started shipping its PowerBook 500 series that came with a 2-inch square trackpad instead. At the time, Apple's trackpad was heralded as a "breakthrough in pointing-device technology", and it wasn't long after that that the trackball went the way of the DoDo and the trackpad established itself as the standard input device on all notebooks. Apple has since expanded the capabilities of the basic trackpad by adding in multitouch functionality in all of its notebooks over the past few years.
Today, a mouse seems as integral to a computer as a keyboard, but before Apple popularized the mouse when it introduced the Mac in 1984, that simply wasn't the case.
In typical fashion, Apple didn't invent the mouse, but was the first to make it accessible to the masses. Truth be told, the first computer to ship with a mouse was actually a Xerox workstation from 1981. The concept, however, never caught on until Apple unveiled the first Macintosh in 1984. For a company that popularized everyone’s favorite input device, Apple’s track record with Mice is spotty at best. Apple was long criticized for only selling 1-button Mice, though they would eventually introduce right-click functionality when they released the Mighty Mouse in 2005.
It's probably easy for anyone under 25 to take a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for granted, but there was a time when using graphical windows to interact with a computer was a novel idea. The roots of the GUI famously stretch back to the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. But much like the Mouse, it was Apple who first brought the concept of a graphical user interface to the mainstream when it introduced the Lisa computer in 1983, soon followed by the Mac in 1984. In an interesting piece of Apple history, Apple was first turned onto the idea of a GUI when Steve Jobs and other Apple executives took a tour of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center in 1979. While some claim that Apple “stole” the idea for a GUI from Xerox, Apple’s implementation added an array of new features that now come standard on all operating systems – dragging and dropping, double clicking, and pull down menus.
The inclusion of a menubar at the top of the screen was also an Apple invention. The popularization of the GUI was a watershed moment in technology, and it’s therefore not too surprising that Apple has been involved in 2 lawsuits relating to GUI patents. In 1988, Apple sued Microsoft claiming that 'Microsoft Windows' copied the "look and feel" of the Mac GUI. Apple would go on to lose the case, but in a little known fact, Xerox sued Apple in 1989 alleging that the Mac infringed on a number of Xerox patents. That case, however, was dismissed as a Judge ruled that Xerox had waited to long to initiate a lawsuit.
Before Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, most consumers probably had no idea what multitouch technology was, save perhaps for a small minority of people who may have seen demos of the technology on YouTube. Since the advent of the iPhone, however, using one's fingers to interact with a smartphone has become the de-facto standard for nearly all smartphones. More than that, the success of the iPhone has resulted in multitouch branching out into other mediums, such as on the current trackpads on Apple notebooks and even on large devices like HP's multitouch monitor. Apple is poised to take multitouch technology even further in the form of the iPad as the device is reportedly capable of registering up to 11 distinct inputs.
To be clear, Apple didn’t develop multitouch technology, but actually purchased a multitouch company called Fingerworks back in 2005. It wasn’t until the iPhone was released, however, that multitouch became a household technology.
The smartphone accelerometer
Accelerometers have been used in multitudes of ways before Apple ever thought to include one in the iPhone. Indeed, Apple has had an accelerometer in its laptops since at least 2005. If the accelerometer detected that the laptop was dropped, heading for a hard impact on the floor, the machine knew to park the disk head and minimize data loss. But when when you hear the term accelerometer today, everyone immediately thinks, iPhone. With hundreds of games and applications made specifically for this feature, it was another of the stand-outs that made the iPhone so insanely popular.
It can even be argued that Apple is responsible for the whole modern day smartphone. The iPhone’s influence on the smartphone market is undeniable. The form and function of the iPhone has essentially defined what a modern day smartphone should look like and how it should operate. Since then, all of the smartphones emerging from Apple's competitors have closely resembled the iPhone. They all have multitouch, they all have a screen in the ballpark of 3.5 inches, many have an accelerometer and they all share a similar form factor to the original iPhone
The popularization of USB
Today we use USB ports to hook up all sorts of devices to our computers, but it wasn't until Apple released the 1998 iMac that USB as a defacto standard began to take shape.
The original iMac was the first computer to ship exclusively with USB ports, as it did away with famed legacy ports like ADB and SCSI. At the time, computers that happened to ship with USB ports also came with other peripheral connections like serial and parallel ports. The end result was that no one technology was able to leapfrog ahead of the pack and become a standard. After all, why focus exclusively on USB when you had other peripheral connections to consider?
The iMac essentially was the impetus for developers to start choosing USB ports over non-USB ports. Today, USB ports come standard with every computer, and you can thank Apple's iMac for that.
A final thought on something else Apple does well: abandoning technology
While Apple has clearly been at the forefront of embracing new technologies, one of its strengths has also been its willingness to abandon dying technologies, even if doing so doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at the time. When Apple first released the Bondi Blue iMac in 1998, for example, the lack of a floppy disk drive created quite a stir. "How," critics asked, "were users supposed to transfer files back and forth between machines?" Apple, though, had the foresight to see that transferring data via tangible media was giving way to a new way of transmitting information - the Internet. Looking back, Apple's abandonment of the floppy disk drive was a move years ahead of its time.