The personal computing industry is a commodity market. The industry as a whole became what it is today through stardardization of design parameters, and a whole lexicon of acronyms allowed what was largely a domain for hobbyists to become components – compatible, interchangeable, standardized to the point where mass manufacture became viable.

But whereas incremental changes and imitation of an already successful product are low risk decisions, every once in a while a profound change in design philosophy can also usher in an icon.

What makes a product iconic? Design, functionality, styling, and innovation will get you part of the way there, but the true tests are how these products distinguished themselves from their competitors, how widely those traits were imitated by those competitors, and how history remembers their status.

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