This oversized, coffee-table volume is devoted to the industrial design of every product made at Apple Computer over the course of 20 years. Lavishly illustrated with over 400 large color photographs by photographer Rick English, the book transforms the plastic cases, LCD displays, and disk drives from old Apple IIcs, Lisas, Macs, PowerBooks, and Newtons (and a few technologies that never made it to the street) into objects of fine art. The book's attention to detail, even in the small peripherals, such as the stylus of the Newton--the ubiquitous round stick-on microphone that ships with the Mac--contributes to the technological identity of the Apple brand.
Remember that 20 years ago, when you walked into a campus computing center or office building, you could distinguish an Apple system from an IBM system from across a room. The early IBM PCs were box-shaped--as close to pure squares and rectangles as possible--and buttoned down with garters on the socks like the Big Blue executives who sold them to the world as business machines. In contrast, the physical design of the Apple machines has always represented the company's "alternative" (and borderline arrogant) mindset, appealing to the more artistic user and fueling the left-versus-right-brain debates. In addition to the packaging of the machine, the Mac's graphical user interface and Motorola CPUs provided the artistic cover by which this innovative book could safely be judged.
Today other computer companies casually imitate the technofuturistic curvedness of the once-almost-shocking Apple design. Much like how the set of the movie Blade Runner has influenced many films that followed it, the industrial design of Apple machines continues to shape other companies' computer designs. AppleDesign is interesting both as an historical document and an artistic appreciation of these designs.