This year marks the tenth anniversary of a milestone for Apple Inc. It was when they began a big switch on their Macintosh computers, moving away from the beloved but now dated PowerPC processors (having initially used them in 1994) to newer Intel processors. For many, this was a shocking change, as Intel processors were what were normally used in Windows PCs, not Macs! But eventually, the switch didn't turn out to be so bad after all. There was a noticeable increase in performance over the older PowerPC models.
But the switch didn't completely happen overnight. When the first Intel Macs came out in January 2006, they only had the iMac and the MacBook Pro (replacing the PowerBook) in Intel models...
They simply took the existing iMac G5 and PowerBook G4 cases and made some modifications to them, especially with the MacBook Pro (like the iSight webcam and the new "MagSafe" power adapter. Then at the end of February that year, an Intel Mac Mini came on the market...
Visually, it appeared identical to the old PowerPC G4 Mac Minis introduced the previous year. The base line at the time, at $599, was not that ideal of a machine for a media user, with a 1.5 GHz Intel Core Solo processor (the only Intel Mac with a single-core processor ever made), a 60 GB hard drive and the crummy Intel GMA950 graphics chip that shared system memory.
With the switch to Intel, there came a sacrifice in graphics on the lower-end models of the time. The PowerPC Macs used to always use discrete graphics cards with their own dedicated video RAM, thus making them more ideal for photo and video work, and even playing certain games on them. Not so with these models. But fortunately over time, with different revisions, they got much better.
In mid-2006, the polycarbonate MacBook made its' debut, to replace the iBook. My MacBook from 2009 physically resembles how they originally looked in 2006, but is a better machine than the mid-2006 models; it has a faster Core 2 Duo processor, more RAM (I upgraded it to 6 GB!), a much bigger hard drive, AND an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chip, while still an integrated one, is much more ideal than those old Intel graphics chips! They also no longer came with internal modems, as dial-up was becoming rare across the country. Then finally in fall 2006, the Mac Pro came out, effectively replacing the Power Mac G5 it was based on in terms of design (we have a 2006 Mac Pro at the local community college.)
One big added plus with the Intel Macs was now you could even run Windows on them if need be!
This is still a feat Apple likes to tote, even to this day. Sure, you could do a Windows virtual machine on PowerPC Macs, but you had to use Virtual PC for Mac, and it was SLOW. With the Intel Macs, you could use the new virtualization software like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, and have a more speedy and responsive virtual machine, and drag and drop files between the native OS X and the Windows system. OR, you could use the Boot Camp utility and create a Windows partition on your Mac hard drive, making your Mac a dual-boot system. I was impressed by it in 2009, when they got 24" iMacs at my college's video editing lab in the Fine Arts building (replacing old Power Mac G4 and Dell Optiflex desktops), setting them up with OS X and Windows XP Boot Camp partitions, from when Windows XP was very common on the campus (in the summer of 2010, they upgraded most of the college PCs to Windows 7.) So I've done the same thing on my MacBook as well, and it has a pretty nice Windows 10 Boot Camp partition currently. I'm also thinking of trying it with my Mac Mini...
In 2009, PowerPC support for Macs began to dwindle, when OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard would only work on Intel Macs. It was a couple years after that when I got my first Intel Mac, a 2009 MacBook, which can still run the latest version of OS X (those initial 2006 Intel Macs can't do that!)
And also back in 2006, those new intel Macs had optical disc-drives. The lower-end Mac Mini and MacBook had a simple "Combo Drive," which could read DVDs but only burn CDs. The others had their "SuperDrive," which is their DVD burner. By early 2009, the Combo Drive was eliminated with the latest revision of the Mac Mini (a SuperDrive came on all versions.) Today, the only Mac on the market with an optical drive is the "regular" 13" MacBook Pro, which may soon be my next laptop, provided it stays available long enough. Apple has been acting as if CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays are obsolete for quite some time now. They all had Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired Internet connection, and they all had FireWire ports (again, the only Mac left on the market today with a FireWire port is that 13" MacBook Pro, as Thunderbolt has efficiently replaced FireWire), which was handy for anyone shooting video on a MiniDV (including HDV) camcorder like I have been for some time, as Macs have made great video-editing computers for a long time now. (I now shoot most of my video on my Canon ELPH-115IS digital camera, and my iPod Touch and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone, but I plan to soon buy a new digital AVCHD camcorder as well.) AND they all had upgradeable RAM, something only a few Macs have today.
It seems more and more people are switching to Mac, but today's models often don't seem to excite me as much as they did in the past decade. But I'm still proud I'm an Apple person... er, furry!