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Why is a Mac not considered a PC?

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I was gently corrected about this when I went to work in the not-yet-booming Internet industry in 1992. Imagine my embarrassment! I never did understand it, so I just looked it up. It looks like the main reason is simply that the definition of PC sort of changed at some point:




"Although Ulanoff may not want to admit it, between the late 1970s, when PC covered the whole field of personal computing, and now, the definition has changed. IBM helped that along by naming its first personal computer the IBM PC 5150. The whole world just called it the IBM PC, and when the clones came, they were called PCs as well.


In the minds of the public, the PC label came to mean a computer that ran MS-DOS - and then Windows. It meant a computer with x86 architecture. If a computer was built around a Motorola 680x0 CPU, or a PowerPC or SPARC or Alpha processor, it wasn't a PC. If it was built on x86 architecture but not compatible with DOS or Windows, it wasn't a PC. It was something different."

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"PC" comes from IBM PC, which was released nigh on 30 years ago. In the early days of PCs, there were PCs and "clones" of PCs, and these were primarily business machines. Macs ran on different processors than PCs with proprietary operating system on proprietary hardware, whereas you could build a (clone) PC yourself from parts. Eventually PCs came into the home, and other home computing frameworks died off.... Commodore is probably the most well known of these.


Today it's harder to make the claim that a Mac is not a PC. They run on the same family of processors and Macs will boot Windows. However, even though it is possible to run OSX on non Apple computers, it's not easy to set up and it not commonly done. Macs are still proprietary wrt hardware (though not external hardware), and PCs are still open with respect to hardware. PCs usually run some version of Windows, but this is not necessarily the case. Linux and various flavours of Un*x run on PC's as well (and OSX is unix based)... heck, some people still run OS/2 and BeOS.

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