In defining Apple’s cool factor, it would be easy to focus solely on their contributions to the history of computing. If I so desired I could harp on about the beauty of their latest operating system and the way it is designed so that novice and professional alike can be equally as productive in their chosen endeavours. I could talk about the iMac, the machine that defined a new generation of ease of use computing, an all in one computer that did away with all the unnecessary clutter that used to comprise a desktop PC (in five fruit colours as well no less). I could also mention the iPod, the spiritual grand daughter of the Walkman, reborn for the digital age with a capacity to hold our humble music collections and deliver them without the hassle of rewinding tapes or carrying CDs.

Yes, I could talk about all these things and more, and they would help to define Apple as a cool prospect. A company that has sexed up technology with sleek and modernistic designs. A company that has brought these devices to the marketplace with the aid of simple yet effective advertising and helped redefine what it means to be a “technology enthusiast” (geek) in the 21st Century.

But are these the only thing that make Apple cool or is there is more to it than that? In defining the true spirit of Apple it’s important to see how they got where they are today and how they dropped the temperature on the journey.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976 and it was at this point the seeds of coolness if there could be such a thing were planted. The fact that two individuals were prepared to pool their respective skills in an entrepreneurial venture was nothing new, but in terms of the computer industry of the time it did represent something of a departure. Building these early machines with technological prowess and being prepared to approach that technology differently was something that would set Apple apart from many other players in the industry.

In this instance it was not just the product that made Apple cool, it was the vanguard spirit and the approach that served to make them such. Whereas companies such as IBM who would go on to manufacture the PC were seen as part of corporate America, Apple were often pictured as something of an opposing force, a product of a West Coast counterculture with relaxed working practices and what could be argued a sense of “hippy idealism”.

The stories of working at Apple were often noted for portraying the environment as “suit free”, a place where creativity was encouraged which in turn led to products that would eventually encourage creativity in the end user.

This is not to say the company was without fault, for every evangelistic story of Apple’s progress there are other equally vicious tales of boardroom slaughters and insider backbiting. Projects that were killed through whim and vendetta, how many of these are true only those involved can possibly say.

However it could be argued that this alternative approach for all its flaws led to some true moments of genius, whether that is in actual product or marketing. This is the company that gave us one of the first examples of an ease of use graphical interface when everyone else was tied to the user unfriendly “C:” command line. It is also the company that gave us the memorable 1984 advert (courtesy of Ridley Scott) that introduced the world to the Macintosh platform; the computer they said was “for the rest of us”.

There were of course spectacular failures, one of the best examples being the Apple Newton. A handheld computer with a multitude of features including handwriting recognition which sadly recognised precious little. However despite being crap you were holding a piece of Star Trek technology in your hand (providing your hands were shall we say…huge).

Apple was cool for a long time in many respects because it was the little guy, the underdog that innovated even if it meant coming second to the bigger fish in the silicon pond. It was David against Microsoft’s all conquering Goliath, nowadays despite still holding a comparatively small market share Apple is in many ways becoming like the others in the field. Sometimes seen as heavy handed and lacking the personality that once made it endearing. Apple’s cool factor in today’s world is truly the result of its savvy in the marketplace and the fact that it knows how to put together products that as Steve Jobs once said are “Insanely great” and as the company slogan reads “Think different”.