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Weird and amazing Macs that aren't exactly Macs

Erica Sadun
Erica Sadun|@ericasadun|January 20, 2014 8:00 PM

If you haven't heard of the upcoming 1984-2014 Maciversary, well either you aren't paying attention or perhaps you have an actual life.

Us? We've been going back and forth talking about this thing for the last month. And one of our most contentious issues involves what exactly counts as a Mac.

Some systems are obviously Macs. This? This is a Mac. It's a happy Mac!

This? This is not a Mac. It's an Apple II. And while many laypersons might not be able to differentiate between a Mac and an Apple II ("Most people now don't know the difference between an Apple and a Mac. Maybe the people reading our site, yes, but not an actual layman.") we can state for certain that this is completely and utterly not a Mac.

This is a Macquarium, a phrase coined by Andy Ihnatko. It is not a Mac, although it is compatible with Objective Sea Life.

This, on the other hand is basically a Mac. It's an Apple Lisa, the personal computer that preceded the Macintosh. In fact, the ultimate Lisa was sold as the Macintosh XL. The Lisa offered many of the same user interface features as the Mac and was targeted toward business users.

This too, is basically a Mac.It's a Xerox Alto, designed at Xerox PARC and dates back to the early 1970s. It used a mouse-driven GUI-based system, and more or less inspired Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs during a site tour. It provided many of the same look and feel strengths that later showed up on the Mac.

This is also basically a Mac. It is a NeXT cube. You don't see a screen in this image from Wikipedia, but if it were connected, you'd recognize a lot of the OS. That's because the NeXT basically ran OS X. It only took a bit over a decade for that technology to return to Apple after Jobs went on a quick run out to pick up some nacho chips and started a brand-new company before returning to Apple with orange fingers and the beginnings of OS X.

While he was gone, someone at Apple built this. It's not a Mac. It's not even close to being a Mac. But eventually it inspired people who got around to shoving Mac's OS X operating system onto the iPhone (which, too, is a Mac).

This is, of course, not to be confused with these, which are also Newtons but which offer far less computational efficiency.

Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list of what is and is not a Mac. There were Power Computing Macs, Hackintoshes, retro bubble Macs, extremely beige Mac IIs and many, many more. All of them properly Macs.

Today, we own our impossibly thin MacBook Airs, our super powerful Retina Pros and our beloved Mac minis. Here's looking forward to the next 30 years of Mac.

Do you have any strong opinions on what is and is not a Mac? Share them in the comments.

All images are courtesy of Wikipedia.

Weird and amazing Macs that aren't exactly Macs