The Apple Macintosh introduced the GUI and desktop publishing to home computing back in January 1984.  Apple had tried with the Lisa and the Apple IIGS, but both failed for various reasons.  The Macintosh was a distinctively shaped all-in-one PC that was small enough to fit on writing desks.  It featured an integrated nine-inch black-and-white screen and a resolution of 512 by 342 pixels.  Several models of Macintosh were made featuring a similar Mac-in-the-box appearance, with the last being the Macintosh SE/30 whose production run ended in 1991.

Macintosh computers were typically called Macs to separate them from IBM-compatible (and later Windows-compatible) PCs, but they weren't officially called Macs until the PowerMac line.  Since then, all desktop and laptop Apple computers were called Mac instead of Macintosh.

The Macintosh operating system, called simply System until System 7.5, then Mac OS from version 7.6 on, has run in different versions on one or two of three radically different CPU architectures.  The earliest was the Motorola 68k line (the 68000, 68010, 68020, 68030).  In the mid 1990s, Apple switched to the PowerPC architecture, G1 through G4.  In 2006, Apple switched to the Intel x86-compatible CPUs.  During each transition, tools were made available to developers to create applications which could run unmodified on Macs of two different architectures:  The ones that could run on either PowerPC or 68k Macs were called "fat binaries," and the ones that could run on either PowerPC or Intel Macs were called "universal binaries."

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