Apple, EarthLink, and the digital transformation of everything

Can you imagine life without the internet?

Yet, 23 years ago when Apple introduced the iMac, internet access was expensive and unreliable. Even so, then-CEO Steve Jobs was among the first to see that connectivity should be baked inside the product that you got.

This is the story of EarthLink and Apple.

The trends of change

Back in ’98 when Apple’s returnee-interim CEO launched the iMac, the company had captured at least three computing trends that drove the product’s global success and pushed Apple into ascendancy:

  • The idea that computers can be sold as consumer devices, not as beige boxes — an idea that seems to have reached EOL at this point.
  • An appetite for choice and the need to challenge the Windows-based status quo.
  • A belief that the internet would become both as important and as forgotten as any other utility.

Apple’s attractive iMac looked like nothing that had been seen in PC design before and shipped with one essential component no one else offered at the time: A modem. You could plug the system in, tap a few buttons, and you were connected.

Of course, in these digitally transformed times we take this for granted; internet access and mobile technology have become essential to daily life in every part of life. But it wasn’t always this way.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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