1991  John Maeda

Merging liberal arts and technology

A self-described “technologist who doesn’t like technology much,” John Maeda saw the potential in the Macintosh from the very beginning. He introduced an entirely new art form by combining software development with traditional design principles, and laid the foundation for modern digital motion graphics. The Macintosh allowed him to see his art in a new way and gave him the tools to bring it to life.

Maeda developed a deep awareness of aesthetics by watching his father, an accomplished chef, prepare and arrange beautiful dishes for the family. This affinity for design — along with his natural math abilities — informed a decision that would set the trajectory for his entire life: bringing a Mac to MIT his freshman year. “I noticed how easy it was to draw an ellipse, which took forever on other computers at that time,” he recalls.

“I think of Mac as a philosophy of using design from the beginning in a category where no one might think design is important.”

— John Maeda

That Mac helped Maeda land his first job at MIT, making screen icons in the Artificial Intelligence lab. Now an author, educator, and frequent speaker, Maeda is a strong advocate for creative studies in education. And a Mac has been with him every step of the way, as he continues to combine art and technology. “Putting the two together like that has helped me do things that I never dreamed I could.”

Introduced October 21, 1991


The PowerBook was the first truly portable Macintosh. Its innovative design, with the keyboard positioned close to the screen, allowed people to rest their palms while they typed. And the rolling trackball made it possible to move around the screen with more precision than ever.

What people did with it

In 1991, the PowerBook was many things to Mac users. Here’s how people say they used it the most.

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