In the early days of personal computers, the Macintosh with its revolutionary point-and-click, desktop metaphor and Graphical User Interface (GUI) was marked as the easy-to-use alternative to the blinking cursor of the PC's Command Line Interface (CLI) ). Because of a lack of programs (and programs), the Mac was considered underpowered, overpriced and, frankly, a lot less macho than the beige boxes that, in short order, fell under the sway of two main chipmakers, Intel and AMD.
For its first 20 or so years in business, Apple used Motorola chipsets (the 68000 family) that had some advantages to make up for its less-than-awesome raw power. Motorola chips were optimized for color, sound and graphics, making the Mac the computer of choice for musicians, artists, designers and publishers. Desktop publishing can trace its beginnings to the pairing of the Macintosh with the first LaserWriter in 1985, and the core set of Mac creative apps (Word, PageMaker, FreeHand, Digital Darkroom, in 1990, Photoshop) would solidify the Mac's hold on the art and marketing departments, while accountants and administrators stuck to their soon-to-be-Windows-powered PCs.
Apple joins the Intel team
In those heady, exciting and improbably confusing early days of the home computer boom, Mac owners (who had yet to crack 10% or so of total computer users) were by far the most brand-loyal, competitive and cultish of all. Led by journalist-turned-marketer Guy Kawasaki, they were not just pro-Mac, and by extension pro-Motorola and supportive of Mac peripherals vendors, they were also often virulently anti-PC. To Mac owners, this meant being anti-Intel, anti-Microsoft and anti-generic-anything, sold out as they were to a reasonably capable computing platform that was, despite its lack of raw power, the best built, most dependable, most stylish and best designed.
In January 2006, hell froze over, pigs flew and Apple announced a new version of the iMac with an Intel Core Duo CPU. Well, the last one actually did happen, and it changed the landscape of the PC world forever. While Apple promised it would finish its Boot Camp application soon, allowing users to boot into Mac or Windows, hackers and hot-rodders did not waste any time and began experimenting right away. Boot Camp Beta, the only version available for OS X 10.4, debuted in April 2006 and expired the last day of 2007, as the feature was then folded into the new Leopard (10.5) version of OS X. The Mac OS went to 10.6, Snow Leopard, in August 2009.
Every model a potential Windows machine
Although Motorola's PowerPC chips had gotten up to the still-potent G5, it was the G4 chip that continued to be used in some models after the Intel Core Duo (then Core 2 Duo, then Xeon Quad-Core chips, now the i5s and others ) made their way into the progressively empowered product line. The Mac mini was the last model to use the G4, and has now been outfitted with Intel CPUs like the rest of the Macintoshes. In fact, the last Mac OS does not even run on PowerPC Macs. They are now goners, at least as far as going into the future with them.
Having the Intel CPU means that every Mac model has the capability of running Windows, and it does not mean you have to choose one or the other to boot, as it did in a Boot Camp-only universe. Yes, you can boot into Windows now, as well as into the various flavors of Linux, from Red Hat to Ubuntu, but you can also use what are called "virtualization engines" to create environments in which you can run Windows and / or Linux after booting normally into OS X.
And Linux makes three
Parallels Desktop, Parallels Server, VMware Fusion and CodeWeaver CrossOver 8 are all applications that let you bring Windows and / or Windows applications into your Mac working environment. Rather than running one OS or another, you can run one, two or three at a time, customizing your approach for your particular needs. Linux packages, such as the aforementioned Red Hat and Ubuntu, are right at home since the Mac OS is built on top of the Berkeley Mach Unix OS, and Windows is welcomed into familiar territory by the Intel CPUs.
Although the smiley-face Mac OS was given the heave-ho in the first major revision of OS X, Jaguar 10.2, that attitude of hardworking happiness lives on. It is what could get all three of these operating systems, all-important and useful in their own unique ways, to play nice on one piece of hardware and cooperate among each other to get you through your work (and play). You can now choose whatever tool gets the job done, regardless of the OS in which it runs, because the Mac, thankfully, really does not have a split personality. That's what makes it so great!