The Apple community has long been known for being a world unto its own. This community includes tech enthusiasts, artists, and just about anyone who gets excited about any of Apple’s products. While I wouldn’t say that companies like Microsoft or HP don’t have an enthusiastic following of their own, the so-called “Cult of the Mac” phenomenon is in a category all its own. One common similarity each member of the Apple community has is a story about their first Mac purchase. What helped them make the decision to buy a Mac? What was the first Mac they brought home? How did it change the way they interact with technology? After hearing about how great Macs were, and being a Windows user for years, I decided to give in and pick up an iMac.

iMacs then weren’t the big screen wonders they are today. They were one of the first all-in-ones to include a flat panel display. In fact, when Steve Jobs announced Apple’s new line of iMacs in January of 2002, he proclaimed, “The CRT is officially dead.” Even though Apple continued to sell the CRT eMacs for a few more years, it’s safe to say that the CRT did in fact pretty much die during the years following the release of the first flat panel iMac. Is the iMac responsible for this shift? Hardly, but it’s fun to think so.

By today’s standards, the flat panel iMacs were a far cry from the larger and more powerful machines we use today. At 15-17 inches, their displays had only a moderate amount of screen real estate and even the larger screen could only barely display a video at 720p. This would have been difficult anyway on some of the earlier models, as the included RAM maxed out at 2.0 GB.

What Was Your First Mac?The first flat panel iMac came with an 800 MHz 32-bit PowerPC G4 processor. By the end of the product line’s life cycle, that increased to 1.25 GHz and they were eventually replaced by the 64-bit iMac G5 in August of 2004.

Specs aside, what’s most important to note about the flat panel iMac was how unique it truly was. By introducing an all-in-one computer that not only featured a flat panel display (something still very rare in those days) but also swiveled, pivoted, and moved freely on a desk lamp style arm, it became an important part of what would ultimately become the next big rise of Apple as a computer company.

That’s the story of my first Mac; what’s yours? What made you decide to pick up your first Mac? Which Mac did you bring home? If you’re still considering switching, which Mac are you considering purchasing?