The Mac turns 25. Let's look ahead another 25.

By now, you probably know that tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, launched two days after the famous "1984" commercial aired during the Super Bowl that year.Clearly, we've come along way since then.

By now, you probably know that tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, launched two days after the famous "1984" commercial aired during the Super Bowl that year.

apple 1984

Clearly, we've come along way since then. My ZDNet colleagues in the UK have put together a good package to celebrate the occasion, including a fun piece that looks ahead another 25 years and tries to predict what the Mac at 50 will look like. David Meyer, senior reporter at ZDNet UK, has this vision that an iPhone-like device is the brains of the computer that we carry around with us in our pockets.

The Mac at age 50 will be like most personal computers in 2034 — no longer recognisable as such. It will use displays that are embedded into walls or various other surfaces. There will be a separate keyboard associated with each of these displays, but the identifiable 'Mac' itself will probably be a handheld device — not unlike the iPhone in form — that the user carries around and associates with whichever display is closest if they need a larger display than that on the handset. Either that, or it will be embedded in the user's brain.

I like the way he thinks - but I suspect that it won't take 25 years to see a variation of the iPhone becoming the computer itself. I see that happening sooner.

apple 2009

So let's have some fun with this. I'll share with you what my imagination conjures up for the Mac of 2034. But I would also love to hear some of your ideas, too. Post them in the talkbacks and, if anyone actually participates, I'll compile some of them into a separate post sometime early next week.

Here's my vision:

The Mac is no longer associated with an actual piece of hardware. Computers now reside in a cloud somewhere - the operating system, the applications, the files. A fingerprint scan "unlocks" access to my customized experience. Maybe I paid for access to a Mac interface - built by Apple - that is equipped with programs that I've paid to license for use. My neighbor's fingerprint, by contrast, unlocks a Windows interface with different programs and settings. Personal files that users choose to keep off the cloud are saved to a smartcard that you carry with you - a 2034 version of a driver's license that doubles as all of your credit cards, your car "key" and personal storage area (think USB drive). Finally, the "computer's" peripherals - touchscreen display and touchpad "mouse" - are virtual, as well, Set your smartcard down on a table or the counter and, just like CNN's holographic images of people on Election Day, a virtual keyboard, touchpad and SDHD (that's Super Duper High Def) screen suddenly appear. 

Sure, it may sound crazy. But think back to 1984 and how crazy this sounds:

Someday, there will be a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Its screen will broadcast TV shows and movies and it will store virtual copies of all of your photographs and music. It will be connected to something called the Internet, which will give you access to more information than you'd ever want. And, finally, it will be your personal telephone with a number that stays with you no matter where you are. And it will be built by Apple.

OK. Your turn. Where do you see the Mac on its 50th birthday?

Also see: The Mac at 25: GUI battles in business The Macintosh turns 25 (and how it was almost a Bicycle)

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