back to article The Mac that saved Apple (and Steve Jobs)

On May 6, 1998, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iMac at the Flint Center Theater in Apple's home town of Cupertino, California — the same venue where he had unveiled the original Macintosh back in 1984. "We think iMac is going to be a really big deal," he told the crowd. He was right. The iMac shipped at the stroke of …


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  1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    Sooo close

    You so nearly got through without your inner fanboi escaping but fluffed it at the end:

    "I'm surrounded by the guts of the personal computer that saved Apple, arguably jump-started the internet age, helped kill off the floppy, and brought translucency to everything from George Foreman grills to Rowenta Surfline steam irons."

    Jump-started the internet age? My arse. I'd love to see any accurate statistics you may have for the number of people who first experienced the internet or first had the internet at home on an iMac. I'd be prepared to make a healthy wager that the true figure is vanishingly small.

    Helped kill off the floppy I can't really sit still for either. Yes it helped but so did about a billion other factors. Claiming the iMac was significant is like trying to take credit for keeping the worlds trees alive because *I* produce CO2. The iMac is way down the list behind CD-R, CD-RW, freefalling drive prices, USB memory sticks, software bloat etc.

    You probably deliberately left out the 'i'. We're into our second decade of marketing wonks insisting that anything can be cool if you put an 'i' in front of it. Shoot them, shoot them all.

    Translucent everything - oh yes, that's thanks to the iMac for sure which is a marmite thing in itself but you should have highlighted the bigger truth I'd credit the iMac with. It started a revolution in design. We see attempts at aesthetically pleasing design in the most mundane of items these days from cheap radios to phones to, well, you name it. Nothing in a poorly designed or plain beige box stands a prayer. Much as I dislike Apple the iMac deserves a beer for that so here's one.

    1. Andy Christ
      Jobs Halo

      It did

      The iMac was the first personal computer to ship that was ready to connect to the internet in seconds, via Earthlink (in the USA). It was the best selling computer of all time-- and the first computer that I ever bought.

      Also, the RAM on that original Bondi could actually be upgraded to 512MB, once compatible 256MB chips became available (one of the pair would have to be "low profile.") And for a brief time, a DVD drive was marketed for that model by MCE; think they might even have sold a DVD RW too for an even briefer period.) Oh and another thing I just remembered, the firmware update necessary to run OS 9 on the Bondi disabled the mezzanine slot. :(

      I upgraded everything possible on my BondiMac, including an iForce 500MHz G4 processor from OWC which enabled it to run OSX up to 10.4.11. The trick was that the OS had to be installed within a boot partition under 8GB on the new HD.

      Gave away my Bondi last year, it was still working fine and running Tiger. Even the latest build of Safari would run on that upgraded machine, the only little problem being that the lack of decent VRAM kept it from being able to support CoverFlow.

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

        Best selling computer of all time?

        I don't believe you. Figures, please.


        1. Terry Barnes

          Best Selling?

          The best-selling computer of all time is the Commodore 64 - by a significant amount.

          There's a tendency amongst both Apple execs and fans to re-write history in their favour - Commodore had the best-selling computer ever with the 64, and the first colour DTP machine with the Amiga.

          1. Matthew 17

            C64 - kinda the best selling but it depends

            Commodore sold 17 million C64 units world-wide over a 10 year period. Computers evolved much more slowly back in the 80's whereas now they're upgraded every year.

            Apple sold 6 million original iMacs in 4 years which at the time was impressive. They sell over 10-million Macs / year now

          2. Giles Jones Gold badge

            Which is amusing

            Go on ebay and look at Commodore 64s. You'll see "rare computer" in some of the listings. Idiots who aren't aware of their popularity.

      2. VocalMinority
        Jobs Horns

        Definitely not best selling computer of all time

        Wasn't the Commodore 64 the best selling computer of all time?

        The iMac G3 only shipped for four years or so, and while it did well, it was only occasionally the best seller in that period - that itself an unfair comparison against a fragmented PC market - a huge market that made Apple look like a true minority player by comparison. It is ludicrous to claim that such a minority interest machine could have made a significant impact on uptake of the internet.

        It might have give a little push to consumer enthusiasm but if it hadn't been around another machine would have served just as well. I remember internet cafes stuffed with these, but far more were stuffed with beige box PCs.

        It was a decent return to form after the terrible era of the "LC" but felt cheap and nasty compared to old style Macintosh boxes; the keyboard was mediocre and the mouse was horrible cheap tacky junk.

        In that same era IBM, Toshiba and other business laptop manufacturers were selling internet ready Windows machines that you could just turn on and go with, so I don't think Apple have any special claim to accessibility there either. I can't recall when the awesome T40 released, possibly after the G3, but it would be no surprise to me if the T40 series alone outsold the G3. Now there is a machine that is worthy of praise and memorial. I bet there are more people still using their T40s than are using their disposable consumer toy G3s. I still see T40-43 machines for sale at fair prices, while old plastic iMacs are dumped at the side of the road for hard rubbish collection.

        Perhaps somebody has some figures?

        1. Ted Treen
          Jobs Halo

          More BallmerJugend stuff...

          "It might have give a little push to consumer enthusiasm"

          That's crap - & you know it. (If you don't, then you shouldn't be commenting on matters of which you're unaware, or which you don't understand).

          "if it hadn't been around another machine would have served just as well..."

          More craperoonie!

          Your praise for the T40 suggests you would rave over a Ford Edsel, whilst dismissing a Jaguar E type or a Ferrarri 250 GTO as insignificant toys.

          Pure sophistry (or absolute bollocks, in the vernacular).

          If you have such a crystal-clear sharp perspective on the IT world, might we assume that you're CEO of a company worth vastly more than Apple, and you're one of the world's most influential IT industry movers?

      3. DrXym

        @Andy Christ

        Windows 95 shipped with MSN preinstalled and I daresay other PCs shipped with AOL or other apps preinstalled. So a good few PCs doubtless existed way before your "first personal computer to ship that was ready to connect to the internet in seconds" that did exactly that.

        Of course maybe Apple bragged they were the first, but it wouldn't be the first time they made baldfaced lies in ads. See also claims about the Mac being the first 64-bit OS, the fastest PC ever etc.

        1. Goat Jam

          Windows on the intertoobs

          "Windows 95 shipped with MSN preinstalled and I daresay other PCs shipped with AOL or other apps preinstalled."

          Did PC's in 1995 come with an integrated modem?

          The answer is no, no they didn't.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Yes. Yes, they did.

            I just looked at the manufacturing date on my 386sx16. Tag on the back says September 1986. It came with a modem, and functional out-of-the-box ProComm software that allowed me to dial into BBSes, and connect to Fidonet, BIX and Delphi ... I can't remember if I ever connected to Compuserve with it. It ran MSDOS and QEMM for a while, but I soon got frustrated by the lack of utility and set it up to dual-boot Coherent, where I mostly used UUCP for connectivity ...

      4. JEDIDIAH

        How far out of touch can you be?

        > The iMac was the first personal computer to ship that was ready

        > to connect to the internet in seconds,

        It's amazing that you guys actually believe this nonsense.

        1. Ivan Headache

          @ Jedidiah

          "It's amazing that you guys actually believe this nonsense."

          It's amazing that you feel so vehemently opposed to something that was in part 'very true'.

          I received my Rev A iMac (sitting here in the room with me) the day after it became available in the UK.

          One of Apple's promo pieces was that a 7 year old boy and his dog could get an iMac onto the internet faster than a tech-savvy computer magazine editor could get a similar spec Windows Machine out of the box and up and running. In the puff, the boy did it in 12 minutes (or thereabouts) and that included opening the box and unpacking it.

          As a test I though I would give that a try. I didn't have a dog but I did have an 11 year daughter.

          All I did was lift it out of the box (as it was rather heavy) and she did the rest.

          17 minutes later and she was on a website and I had done nothing - not even spoken to her.

          It wasn't just that - after that 17 minutes the computer was completely useable. There was nothing else to install to make it work. (apart from a printer driver for whichever printer you were using)

          Compare that to the last time I installed anew PC out of the box. It was 2 hours before it was in any fit state to use.

          The comment in the piece about the FORMAC module. The TV version was virtullay impossible to find - I think I only ever saw one - and it was so ridiculousy expensive I didn't even think about buying it. I did buy the standard SCSI card though. Had my Nikon slide scanner connected to it without any problems at all. If you rang FORMASC here in the UK they didn't know anything about either unit and were particuarly useless in that respect.

          When I was working in John Lewis as an Apple demonstrator, we would outsell windows PCs 5 to 1 on a typical Saturday and occasionally reached 7 to 1.

          1. JEDIDIAH

            Don't kid yourselves.

            > It's amazing that you feel so vehemently opposed to something that was in part 'very true'.

            Only in Oceania...

            It is not infact true. It's total revisionist fanboy nonsense.

            By the time the iMac came out, broadband was already starting to emerge. So the entire idea of trying to support something old and tired like serial modems was already starting to get rediculously out of date.

            No, high speed internet probably did more to help along internet adoption than the bundleware that came on Apple's after it was already on every other major brand of PC.

            > Compare that to the last time I installed anew PC out of the box.

            > It was 2 hours before it was in any fit state to use.

            You can install a new OS from scratch quicker than that, nevermind a ready made box.

            A ready made brand name PC is the same as dealing with a Mac Mini.

            1. Ivan Headache

              @don't kid yourselves

              What's with this oceania stuff?

              You seem be be thinking that geeks are normal people.

              Yes the internet was around long before the imac came along, and yes, broadband was starting to emerge. Note - STARTING.

              Broadband wasn't commonplace for a long time after - say 6 years or so. Note - COMMONPLACE.

              I had more people using ISDN than broadband with their imacs. I had to wait ages for my exchange to be broadband enabled and I live in a London suburb.

              Yes you are right that high speed internet probably did more to help internet adoption (not sure of the relevance of the rest of your sentence). But normal people didn't start usng broadband in any serious numbers ' til about 5 years ago. Geeks used it from the off. Domestic take-up was very slow. Normal people used a local call dial-up service to Easynet or Tiscali or AOL. etc. Don't try to kid yourself that that is not the case. - I am still visiting people who are making the switch - even now!

              You also have to remember that domestic take-up of the internet at that time was incredibly low anyway. At the place I worked (ISDN equipped) out of about 60 people only 3 or 4 of us were connected (via dial-up) at home. That's because we were techies and we could work out how to do it.

              What made the imac different was that my 11 year old daughter was able to set it up and get it connected to the interet on her own. with no help or instructions from me (yes she had the answers to the phone number, username password and DNS all writen down). I seriously doubt that she could heve done it with a typical PC of the day.

              My comment about the 2 hours to set up (no sorry - make useable) a PC was absolutely true. I was working in 2 rooms in a house. One room had an imac that was being replaced by a newer model (the G4 anglepoise version) the other had a brand new Packard Bell something or other (IIRC) - both bought the same day.

              The iMac was configured and complete will all the files transfered from the old machine in about 20 minutes. All I had to do was connect a firewire cable, do a restart of the old machine and say transfer on the new one and that was it. 20 minutes later, comlete will all email intact and looking exactly the same to the user as the old machine. Not so the PC. (and I didn't transfer any of his files).

              I haven't done a PC since then so you may well be right that you can install a complete OS in less time. But installing an OS does not a useable computer make.

              Anyway just for info. If you take a new iMac out of the box today, it's ready to use in about 3 minutes. Connected to the net and doing email. Depending on what printer you have you probably don't have to install any drivers either. (It would be quicker but Apple insist you watch a welcome movie first).

        2. zappymax

          certainly a very fast internet connection

          as actually when i opened my bondi box ( i bought one of the first available in Mexico), the internet access was practically available with two or three clicks once powered.. and if not in seconds, certainly very very fast. Compared with other pcs, a no nonsense...

    2. Ted Treen

      Sooo predictable

      "..Much as I dislike Apple..."

      Pretty much sums up your comment.

      I suppose your God of Innovation is the other company - the one with the simian CEO.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sooo predictable

        "Sooo predictable"

        Says Ted Treen, the serial Steve Jobs fluffer, before yet again jumping to the defence of his favourite fruit-themed Mega-Corporation.

        Irony FAIL.

        1. Ted Treen

          General fail all round (Logic, courage etc...)


          Yes, I have used Macs for many years.

          Yes I personally prefer the Mac's OS to other offerings.

          Yes I have sufficient confidence to add my name to comments.


          No I don't care what anyone else uses/has used/will use.

          No I don't find the spittle-laden invective of your tribe either informative or entertaining.

          No I don't see that being a Mega-Corporation is automatically intrinsically evil.

          No I don't see anything wrong in preferring reasoned discourse to adolescent sophistry.

          No I don't expect that the above described preference is likely to be satisfied.

    3. N2

      Internet age...

      Well, it certainly wasnt 'jump started' by Mr Gates,

      "when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority" - 1998

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Outside of Oceania Big Brother is not such a big deal.

        > Well, it certainly wasnt 'jump started' by Mr Gates,

        The key thing that Apple Fanboys continue to fail to grasp is the fact that you don't need to be dependent on a single platform tyrant or "Big Brother" if there is a healthy open and free market for 3rd party products. Gates doesn't have to drive everything. There are plenty of others capable of driving innovation.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          What JEDIDIAH *actually* wanted to say...

          "Don't be mean about Bill and Microsoft! You all should be thankful! He single handedly invented the computer and the internet and programming and everything. If you don't agree with me you are a fanboi" Prick.

          1. JEDIDIAH

            What JEDIDIAH actually said...

   more along the lines of "you are a clueless fanboy" that's trying to rewrite history. An open platform doesn't have to be driven by it's "owner". 3rd parties can handle the enhancements. 3rd parties did infact handle these sorts of enhancements.

            The idea that Apple beat the entire cabal of PC manufacturers to anything is a little absurd.

            Apple might have raised visibility a bit and made more noise, but they probably weren't first in anything ever.

            If you are trying to frame this as "Gates versus Jobs" then you simply don't understand anything.

            By 1998, it was a bit late to be fixating on stuff like Earthlink.

          2. Anonymous Coward


            1. The design of the iMac was heavily influenced by the SGI machines designs in particular the octane 2.

            2. Internet pre-dates win 95, we had IBM's OS2 Warp which was a far superior OS to both the macOS of the time and Windows 95 when it came out.

            You could also use UNIX, SUNOS and PCDOS (made by the original creator of DOS)

            Contrary to Mac fanboys such as some of the commentators, the pc market does not mean bill gates or windows, it's an open market in which you can also run OSX quite easily.

            This is what Jebediah actually said if you bothered to read the actual message.

    4. Michael C

      well actually

      AOL was on System X quite a while before it was on PC. The iMac went on sale in 1998, and was one of only a few machines with an integrated modem AND a network adapter. It was not until AOL 3 the PC even had a non-DOS version in 1996, and it was not very popular. AOL 4.0 for Windows 95 was not released until late 1998, and was the first time anyone on AOL could actually email out to the open internet and browse regular web sites. Mac users were heavy in AOL, and had been since v1.0 in 1989, almost 10 years... Yes, there were some AOL dos users as early as 1991, but they were few and far between.

      Apple also had Apple Link, and partnerships with numerous other providers. The "i" in iMac literally stood for "internet" if you asked anyone at the time (and they were wuoted numerous times in the press using that interchangeably with "individual." Getting an iMac online took 2 steps. Turn it on, and choose a provider. 100% of the work was done for the user before the box was ever opened. Conversely, getting a PC online was a pain. ERven machines that included modems rarely could use them out of the box easily, and bundling of ISPs had not yet taken off (not until Windows 98 SE did Microsoft even finish adding the TCP/IP stack to the OS).

      Apple made online simple. Even with XP people still had issues getting modems to work. With a strong user base already in AOL, and other services, and with a cheap, easy to buy PC and choice of browsers once you were online (something you could not do on a PC until years later with AOL 5) the internet was much more open on a Mac.

      1. Daniel B.

        AOL != internet

        AOL is the legacy of the era of "Content Networks" or whatever they were called. AOL was the ugly duckling, with Compuserve having a hell of a lot more users back then, and they already had a Windows client by 1996. There were far more users using Compuserve for Internet than AOL users. The rest of the masses were actually using local ISPs, you know, the zillion dialup ISPs that used to exist before they were all Blockbuster'd into oblivion by AOL.

        While Win 3.1 was a pain to get on the internet (we depended on Trumpet Winsock or similar apps), Win95 actually came with an internal TCP/IP stack, or at least one that worked well enough to work out of the box. So no, the iMac wasn't the first one with internet connectivity; what it *did* have was the ability to work out of the box without fumbling for a zillion cables; just plug in keyboard, mouse, phone line and power. Voila!

        However, I think that by the time the iMac came out, the Internet boom was already in gear, and the most popular FPS of that time (Quake) having TCP/IP support, which incidentally also started the whole FPS modding fad. It was possible with Doom, but during Quake's lifetime you could find all the good modding tools on the 'net, and could publish your mods on the Quake-related sites. Ah, the days...

        Hell, it was probably Quake the one that got kids on the 'net. 64 player deathmatches or CTF sure beats 2-player modem games!

  2. Ed Vim

    Bringing back memories

    It was only three-four years ago I had a contract with a public school system. The relatively small elementary school I worked out of for about three years had about 75 computers (staff and classrooms) total and just under half of them were iMacs, the majority of them being these same G3 Bondi Blue models. By current standards they certainly weren't snappy but the kids never seemed to mind. (It's notable that the kids could bounce from new to old Macs and Windows PCs without major issues. But on average, adults, the teachers and staff, tended to always stick with one platform or the other and would freak out if even an icon for a common application would change on the Desktops.) Anyway, those photos of the iMac tear down gave made me twitch a bit from the memories. Upgrading something like RAM on a PC was just a matter of popping open the case, or on later model iMacs where they put an easy access, round hinged hatch on the bottom side, but as mentioned in the article, doing the same for one of these original iMacs required a clear space on a table and some planning.

    Regarding the matter of CRT displays dying, out of the thirty+ iMacs I don't recall a problem with any of them. Being in a school those iMacs could get pretty beat up but the displays weren't a problem. Extracting pencil leads (from a typical mechanical pencil) from those front-mounted audio ports was a problem for a while. And of course occasional damage to peripherals like keyboards and mice. Hated those stupid round, puck mice. I was actually glad when one of those mice would get damaged or a kid would steal the ball inside so I could replace it with a more conventional one.

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      The Problem With...

      ...CRTs, and not just the ones in the iMAC, is that they were designed in nice clean laboratories.

      Although I never had experience with iMACs, I was building television studios in the late 70s and had failures of two high-end ($6000) control room color monitors. One from Tektronics and another a few years later by Barco.

      Both performed beautifully right out of the box, but after about 6 months lost focus and eventually quit. The culprit, micro carbon (soot) in our NYC air. As anyone that has owned a color CRT knows, the 35,000 or so volts behind the glass attracts dirt. In fact a CRT can be thought of as an electrostatic air cleaner with pictures.

      Inside the case, all parts containing elevated DC voltages similarly collect airborne dirt, and for city dwellers this includes carbon. Unfortunately (for CRT monitor makers, not resistor and telephone makers) carbon is conductive, and as the carbon built up, more and more current was drained away by leakage paths through this carbon.

      in we can see a thin layor of microcarbon on the white flyback transformer. This is a very minor case, but in a carbon-rich environment, enough must have collected to lead to fuzziness and shutdown.

      In the filtered air of a school, this problem would be much less likely, as Ed Vim's experience suggests.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Did bring in USB

    I think the iMac was the first computer where the USB "just worked" - Win95 died if you hotplugged anything, and I remember even Linux had USB issues.

    And holy crap... translucent this and translucent that, and everybody wanted to look like an iMac. I remember joking about buying translucent plastic stock.

    Nice little trip down memory lane... punchcard avenue... whatever you want to call it.

    1. Bilgepipe


      I'm sure we all remember Bill Gates' and his hilarious on-stage USB "demonstration".

      Whatever the bitter and twisted anti-Apple-tards might post in these articles, Apples resurgence redefined the PC industry - and that's why *every* major tech company is now scrambling to keep up with them.

      A pint for Mr Jobs.

      1. The Fuzzy Wotnot


        Didn't Gates have a pop at the iMac, something like, "Who's going to buy a fruit-laballed, plastic colored toy as a computer?".

  4. jake Silver badge


    "i" is marketard-speak for "idiots will buy anything shiny".

    And no, Apple's late '90s computers had nothing to do with the general public's uptake of internet access. Apple didn't have the market-share to claim anything to do with it.

  5. Christian Berger

    56k was _never_ fast

    Back when 56k was out ISDN which had multiples of 64k was already out and in widespread use. In fact if your "office" wasn't able to get you ISDN, 56k would neither work. So essentially it was a "supposed to be internet"-box which couldn't connect to the internet without an external ISDN router. Those were really expensive back then. But I guess it didn't matter, as the keyboard didn't have an @ key.

    What I personally consider the best design of that time was the iBook. It had a shock absorbant case. The only think it lacks was a VGA output. If it had one, and the CD-Rom drive would have been any better, I'd probably still use it.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @Christian Berger re: 56k

      It's all comparative.

      If you had moved up from 1200/75b/s, through V.22bis, V.32 and V.32bis, then V.90 was fast.

      If you were using it for commercial use, then it was almost certainly the upload speed that was your issue, as it was asymmetric and the upload channel was a fraction of the download speed. IIRC, if you did V.90 modem to V.90 modem directly, you could only get 33.6kb/s anyway. You needed something like a DS0 setup, which could directly inject digital signals into the phone system, to give you the 56k download speed to end-users.

      Most home users mostly downloaded data, so this was not a big issue.

      Don't compare your 20Mb/s ADSL line, or even channel-bonded ISDN with what home users had available at the time, because ISDN was far too expensive for home users to consider, even the 'reduced-cost' Home Highway that BT tried to sell.

      At this time, nobody did large mail attachments or video, and you left P2P running for hours or days if you were using it. Web sites were still mainly HTML, with only fairly small GIF images. You also did not have flash video adverts or java or javascript apps at all. Most pages were fairly static, and eminently cachable, so we got what we though was a good service at the time.

      I wan my whole household (several computers with thin-wire Ethernet, and then wireless as it became available - we're a techie household) on a dial-on-demand 56K modem for several years, until BT got round to upgrading our exchange to ADSL.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I know that in Germany, it was not uncommon in 1998 for household consumers to have ISDN. Something to do with Deutsche Telekom promoting it. So, 56k would have been slow in comparison. However, where I was living in the US, anything faster than 56k was not available until around 2000. Unless you were willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to run a T1 line to your house.

      1. hoboroadie


        Bob Ames got a T-1 line to our house in '95. He spent a little over one thousand USD, it ran to his shack down by the creek.

    3. Daniel B.

      Re: 56k was _never_ fast

      It depends on which country you live in. If it is the EU, ISDN was probably as common as PSTN lines in the American continent. In the US, it wasn't really popular, and here in Mexico, it was pretty much short-lived, somewhere around 2000 and marketed as "Prodigy Turbo" (basically, selling on the possibility of getting 128k using the two B channels). It never really took off, as changing all your phone equipment for ISDN stuff was pretty expensive. Real broadband availability for everyone came with ADSL, so we really spent all of the 90's with slow-ass internet links. 56k was fast for home users, most of us lusted for getting an E1 at our homes.

      Now, the campus network was entirely different. I remember 8 kilobyte/sec downloads there, though it sometimes got as fast as 40 kB/s. That must've been circa 1998.

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...a clean design with no "whoops" do-over traces...."

    Er, you already mentioned it's actually a Rev B machine? Presumably there was a reason for the revision? I doubt the GPU swap was, in itself, the primary driver for this and I strongly suspect that a "tidied" version of the logic board was the top item.

    1. Ivan Headache

      He mentions it

      It was the upgraded video.

  7. deadlockvictim

    On internet uptake

    The iMac did make computer usage and internet usage easier and more acceptable to a large number of people. There were many [1] who felt disdain at having a beige box and massive monitor in their bedrooms, living rooms etc. The iMac helped greatly here.

    In my experience, and this may not be representative of people as a whole, was that young women especially bought them as their first computer. It looked well, fitted nicely into an apertment, worked simply and often they had exposure to macs in college or from those around them. Guys, at this time, wanted PCs with their beefy graphics cards to play Quake and the like.

    [1] I am ready to write for Wikipedia...

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes

    We have a pink one, answers to the name of Cousin Serena (or actually Cousin_Serena, as she now runs Linux.) She's always tended to get a little hot, so she's gone through a fair number of disk drives, and she jolts when she starts, when it sounds as though her flux capacitor has hit 88, but she's still here, weighing the house down in the gales.

  9. Paul Durrant

    Trivia - port door error

    The "rubber-ringed hole" in the port door was NOT for threading cables through - that was purely the 'handle' for opening the door. There are gaps at the bottom left and right of the door for the cables to come through without any fiddly threading involved.

  10. A 31
    Thumb Down

    ... Jump-started the internet age

    no, really ... no

    is all I could find, but from the nineties, when I started playing on BBS, telenetting all around the world, Macs where hardly jumpstarting anything, compuserve came about, and oters of the same kind, mac still had a tiny percentage.

    So please give what is due to linux/unix and windows , and mores so, PCs

    1. nation of stupid

      really, yes

      "when I started playing on BBS, telenetting all around the world, Macs where hardly jumpstarting anything, "

      Then again, at the time neither was Win95.

      You sum up the general publics perception of the internet at the time of the iMac as a place for geeks to hang out and overcomplicated for home users, unless you played in the walled gardens of AOL and Compuserve.

      The iMac got everyone interested in the internet even if they didn't buy an Apple machine, although the fact you could literally be online within a minute of taking it out of the box made it so much simpler for home users to get online than trying to connect with Win95/98.

      Whatever your opinion of Apple, the iMac did kick start the internet age for home users the same way the iPhone has kick started smartphone usage today. In both cases they weren't the first to market but thanks to Apples marketing they got people interested in the concept whether they buy Apple products or a rivals.

  11. DrXym

    iMac was nice with one serious flaw

    I'm speaking about the mouse which was wretched. It's amazing for a company focused on usability that they make such lousy mice, the hockey puck mouse in the iMac was the worst by a large margin. Most of their other models suck badly too. I had a G4 which had a nicer oval shaped optical mouse with hidden button but it was still crap compared to any bog standard PC mouse.

    The iMac was great in most other respects, demonstrating truly plug and play behaviour. I do think though that Apple went overboard once they started selling different colour fascias. That would be the point IMO they went transitioned from high quality niche kit to mass produced kit where quality took a backseat to style.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      Re: iMac was nice with one serious flaw

      Yes, the iMac mouse: Apple "design" FAIL! Didn't Steve ever use a DECstation? Sheesh!

    2. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      Ergonomics generally look poor

      The whole thing looks like it would be an ergonomic nightmare, not just the mouse. I mean, I know the '90s were a different century, but even back then we knew about adjustable screens, and decent screen/keyboard/chair relationships. None of those look achievable with an iMac.

      Still, nice piece of packaging, and there's no doubt it appealed to something in the buying public.


      1. Ivan Headache

        The screen tilts up and down

        a bit. There's an extendible foot under the front to raise it up a bit. (not a lot though). On the later models with the slto-load CD, this foot's fixing were changed and it used to break if treated roughly.

    3. Ivan Headache

      I must be the odditly

      who really likes the puck mouse. Still use one every day.

  12. irrelevant


    Ah, I remember when they were new walking around Makro (a wholesaler for traders) and seeing a display of these new "Apple PCs" ..!

    Co-incidentally, as of a few days ago, there was one of these in the window of the local cash converters, up for peanuts! I'm tempted to get it, just to play and see what the fuss was about..

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Re: "A pint for Mr Jobs."

    Agreed. Make it a pint of cold sick.

    1. Ted Treen

      It's time..

      ...for nursey to bring on your medication, methinks.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    The B*****d machine

    I was working in an apple repair centre at that time.

    Basically conversations on repiars boiled down to what we could screw the customer for. Knowing that they were gullable and thought the insides were like PC's

    the most minor fault (loose cable) would instantly be upgraded to a new logic board.... honest.

    And people wonder why Apple are sitting on all that cash

    1. Ted Treen
      Thumb Down

      An Apple repair centre

      owned, staffed & run by Apple?

      Or by one of the many people whose get-rich-quick approach was found across ALL platforms.

      Not unlike the motor trade was - and often still is.

  15. Graham Lee

    No, Virginia...

    At the time when you say all optical drives were slot-loading, I had a caddy-loading drive (plugged into a SquirrelSCSI adaptor on an Amiga 1200, which itself had a stack of 2p coins on top to address a "thermal surfeisance" issue).

  16. Peter 4

    Blue iMacs

    Happy days!

    Except for that bloody mouse. (I have big hands)


  17. zxcvbnm

    Was a bestseller

    It was a bestselling computer of its time simply because no other manufacturer tried selling the same model for several years. Think about it, dell sold many more desktops but changed the model numbers every few months so they could say it was the newest, latest and greatest. Apple just had its one imac for ages clocking up sales to anyone to wanted to replace their cheap mac.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      Same model number....

      ....but different hardware, as we can see from the article. Does that count?


  18. The Dark Lord

    Jump Starting

    Yep, iMac jump-started (or rather defibrillated) Apple, but little else. It truly was a computer for people who thought they needed a computer but didn't really want any part in the computer ownership process.

    Since iMac Apple has done a great job of exploiting this market sector - they've done the same thing with smartphones and with netbooks - but their innovation is always in bringing tech to those who want tech without the knowledge acquisition burden.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge


      >but their innovation is always in bringing tech to those who want tech without the knowledge acquisition burden.

      I'm pretty sure that being able to build a device that can be used with little or no reference to the manual is a good thing?

      Computer and software products should not be exclusive to the IT community. You shouldn't need to be able to talk like someone from Star Trek to use computers and software.

      Just because other OSes are confusing and geeky doesn't mean that is how it should be.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        It's not the computer that's complicated.

        > Just because other OSes are confusing and geeky doesn't mean that is how it should be.

        Some things are just inherently difficult. It has nothing to do with the fact that you're using a computer.

        Photoshop is a great example of this. So is the fact that 90% of msoffice features go unused.

        Dumbing things down too much simply limits what you can do.

        Apples are only "easy" if you follow the pre-ordained path. It's like what the OP said "those who want no burden".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Simple vs. dumbed down

          Just because something is simple doesn't mean it's dumbed down. Example, managing applications on a Mac vs. a PC. An application on the Mac (usually) appears to be a file, can be copied around as such, doesn't need to be installed, and doesn't require a complicated uninstall process (just delete the bundle). This is a million times simpler than on Windows, and even Unix variants, but in what way is it dumbed down, missing functionality, etc.?

          Most of the top-flight computer experts I know (academics, developers at Google, Oracle/Sun, Facebook, etc.) switched to OS X years ago simply because it's less hassle than other operating systems. Just because you're able to deal with Windows, etc. doesn't mean you should.

          1. JEDIDIAH

            Regarding OpenStep application bundles.

            Actually, those OpenStep application bundles are not all they are cracked up to be. They are not nearly as portable or robust as you make them out to be. If you are doing anything terribly interesting you will still need to do the sort of dependency management that Apple likes to ignore.

            Also, the very fact that you expect the end user to automagically know what to do with one of those OpenStep bundles is neither easy or intuitive.

            "double click and it installs" is actually a much more usable approach.

            "copy some stuff somewhere yourself" is actually almost more of an "arcane Unix approach". Outdated too by modern Unix standards. Then again, this is an idea from the early 90s.

            I use a proper Unix because it involves "less hassle" and I don't have to make any functional compromises.

        2. Michael Thibault

          Enough, already!

          >> Just because other OSes are confusing and geeky doesn't mean that is how it should be.

          > Some things are just inherently difficult...

          > ... 90% of msoffice features go unused.

          > Dumbing things down too much simply limits what you can do.

          > Apples are only "easy" if you follow the pre-ordained path.

          What is the path users are taking, then, if they only use 10% (1) of the capabilities of MSO? Is the remainder too difficult for most users to bother with? Is that difficulty inherent, or is it bad design? Or have the users learned that 'here lie the (practical) limits of what you can do'? Are they not following the path of least exasperation/frustration/confusion/angst/etc in settling down to the 10% of features i.e. taking the "easy" way out?

          1) I think you overstate the proportions - perhaps by a factor of 2 -, but I'll let that slide.

          p.s. "much as I hate..." to say it, the fanboi/anti-fanboi bullshit is getting tedious - really tedious. The comments section culture deserves better than juvenile postings of that broad type. Do shut up!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Great introductory computer

        I would never have dreamt of buying a computer for my parents before the original iMac came along. But when it appeared, it looked like something they could have in their house. Getting rid of the separate monitor and computer and with it, all those cabled, dumping the unfamiliar floppy disk made the machine much more approachable. All the difficulties were hidden away behind a very tactile surface - all smooth curves moulded in high gloss, brilliantly coloured or textured plastic that resembled the stuff you'd put into toys or even bits of art. With no trailing cables and that useful little handle on the top, it was easy to find a spot for the machine on a regularly sized desk in a spare bedroom.

        And when they got it, the reaction of my parents was complete acceptance even love of this machine. Many guests to their house were asked 'have you seen our computer?' and they were delighted to show just what it could do.

        They're still using, and loving, a G5 iMac which does everything they want quietly, unobtrusively and hasn't given them a single day's trouble. As far as I know, their G3 has found a new home at a friend's house where it chugs away as a second computer.

  19. Anthony Hulse

    Man, why so much hate towards it?

    Whether or not the Bondi iMac jump started anything it's still a significant piece of computing history. I had a Performa at the time and it was slow as, yet waited until '99 when the iMac came with a DVD-ROM before jumping in (a green one, to match the curtains :-) ). There is no denying that this machine completely changed the landscape, even if you are more concerned with hating it because it's Apple rather than being objective.

    Glad I got the DV model though. Even taking it to bits to upgrade the hard disk was easy compared to what those pictures show. Ouch.


      Man, why so much hate towards it?

      It's not the device that gets the negative attention. It's all of the nonsense propaganda surrounding it. It was nice and pretty and helped save Apple from oblivion. Anything beyond that is highly disputable.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Voodoo 3DFX - it shipped!

    I bought and installed one of these, however it wasn't from Micro Conversions if memory serves, but a third party they passed me onto.

    Installation was a bit hairy for someone opening up a PC for the first time, but yielded a noticeable improvement in frame rates, in all the fantastic titles available for the Mac OS at that time (such as, um, Episode One Pod Racer...)

    Weirdly enough the card was shipped to me on a 'pay on delivery' basis, but the delivery agent knew nothing about it and wouldn't take any money. Despite following up subsequently (and repeatedly) via email, I got bounce-backs and no response from anyone I contacted, including Micro Conversions who I think went out of business a few weeks after I'd received the thing!

    On the iMac...for me it was why I ended up buying into the Mac ecosystem rather than Windows. Needed to do DTP as a student, had a free copy of Mac Quark due to participation in the Quark 4 beta programme (ha!) but couldn't possibly afford a Power Mac at the time. Great little PC.

    1. plink

      Micro Conversions Game Wizard card for iMac

      I had one of these too. It was a Micro Conversions product, called the Game Wizard, and it ran 3DFX VooDoo II with 8 MB VRAM. The iMac version was a squashed verion of a 12 MB VRAM version for the blue-and-white G3 towers. There was a box and a CD-ROM with drivers and an installation manual. The card was hard but fun to install. It used video pass-through and did not require the removal of the little port cover.

      The card ran RAVE, GLIDE, and with beta drivers, OpenGL. Pairing the card with a CPU upgrade from NewerTech was the best way to turn the iMac into a great gaming machine. For the time, the graphics quality using the GLIDE drivers on games like Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament was astounding. OpenGL was very doable and opened up all major Mac games at the time to the first iMacs. I played Undying on mine, for example, and ran it on medium quality settings very smoothly.

  21. Colin Ritchie
    Paris Hilton

    Remember the Bondi? I have one still running today....

    My first Mac was a Rev. B iMac with 96 mb RAM bought in 1998, I LOVED it!

    It brought me to the internet and I loved it even more for that alone.

    I didn't replace it till 2002 with a G4 800mhz iMac with 1 GB RAM, by then it had gained Mac OS X an iHarmoni 600mhz CPU/FireWire port combo, a Voodoo 2 8mb Game Wizard card on the mezzanine, 80 GB hdd and 512 mb RAM.

    Total cost for 4 years of daily use and expansion £1200. £300 a year, my friend's replacement PCs cost him more in the same timespan and still crashed like Lindsey Lohan in a Maserati.

    In 2005 when my GF's son's Acer Craptop died at boarding school and they demanded £400 to repair it, the Bondi went to school and did sterling replacement service till the relentless Unreal tournament matches in a confined space cooked the Voodoo card in 2007. It ran Illustrator and Photoshop like a champ for him despite the paltry spec it carried.

    I removed the add-on card and it spent the next 2 years as the back-bedroom Mac for when the Lounge one was busy. The screen failed and a £30 (delivered!) eBay hulk took over ownership of the good bits and it soldiered on till I gave it to a friend to get him back online in 2010 when his Packard Bellend tower died of terminal fluff choking every fan and vent possible.

    Now it snores in the spare room waiting the next time somebody says

    "Fuck! I need an email box my Piece of Crap just died!"

    Viva la Bondi. 12 years old and still more reliable than a Vista laptop.

    Why Paris? Pretty on the outside, dubious on the inside, but still ticking after all this time.

    1. N2

      Packard Bellend

      What a very appropriate name for this POC.

    2. Jess

      Viva la Bondi. 12 years old and still more reliable than a Vista laptop.

      That is a bit like saying more honest than a politician.

    3. zappymax

      as the song

      (by Maurice Chevalier), " I love Paris in the morning, in the summer..... "

  22. Mage Silver badge

    So 12 years later

    "Whatever the bitter and twisted anti-Apple-tards might post in these articles, Apples resurgence redefined the PC industry - and that's why *every* major tech company is now scrambling to keep up with them."

    So that's why under 6% of computers world wide run OS X

    They have removed Computer from their name

    They are now the US equivalent of B&O. Not bad consumer electronics at an inflated price.

    The iPad may be architecturally a tablet Computer, but is really a Web & Apple App overgrown PMP, not a "Computer"

    Apple has even dropped their "Servers". Which was only ever an Apple Fan product as Solaris, Linux or Windows has more functionality or performance, often at a lower price.

    I never ever saw one of the original iMacs in the flesh, despite being in IT from 1994 to 2004.

    We did add MS Windows Servers and HP plotters to some places with Macs.

    Expect OS X or OS 11 / OSXI to be more iOS like with less openness. More like an appliance. I expect Apple will do real TVs or what ever other non-Computer device that can leverage the Apple brand, be sold to a large market in-expert on tech specs for an inflated price. Like B&O, Monster, Bose etc.

    1. The First Dave


      > that's why under 6% of computers world wide run OS X

      Fact is, that 6% figure comes from sales, not usage. As many people have already commented, Apple machines tend to get used for twice as long as beige-box alternatives...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Apple has even dropped their "Servers"

      Well, Apple has dropped the Xserve Hardware if that's what you mean, but it's not as if its dropped products in server territory altogether -

      As for not seeing "one of the original iMacs in the flesh, despite being in IT from 1994 to 2004" - you might be in the US, but in Europe, this wouldn't have been unusual not seeing them in the workplace - with the original iMac design, users couldn't adjust the screen angle sufficiently to comply with European Union health and safety regulations, it was illegal to use them in the workplace, unless it has an adjustable stand.

      That said, I did see a fair few in the workplace, myself - usually in a reception area or in advertising agency, where they were making a virtue out using such kit. However, I would say that iMac, particularly the first physical design, was aimed much more at the consumer market.

  23. Ian 55

    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley

    'Despite Steve Jobs' assertion during his rollout presentation that the iMac's CRT was "an Apple-quality display that we are very proud of," iMac displays were notoriously short-lived and problem-plagued.'

    s/Despite/Per/ surely.

  24. Scott A. Brown

    You talk about the design at length...

    ...without crediting the designer. Give Jonathan Ive (CBE) a mention. He, arguably, could be regarded as the man who turned the fortunes of the company around - through design alone. Impressive if you think about it.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    as usual apple is all style over substace!

    they all end up in the same rubbish dip in the end !

    (c)2010 Steve Job

  26. Peter Kay

    Modems/was it only me that thought the iMac looked horrid?

    Picky note - V.90 wasn't the last modem standard - the last was V.92, which few people bothered with.

    In any case, the iMac was a horrid plasticy computer. I thought it looked horrid then, and I still think it looks horrid now. The hardware may have been basically functional, but the ergonomics were pathetic. Substandard CRT monitor, poor adjustability of monitor, pathetic keyboard and mouse.

    I'd argue it was only with the introduction of the PowerMac Quicksilver that some semblance of style was introduced.

    It's also a bit much for Mac fans to claim that OS X was so revolutionary. Sure, it was a definite improvement over the particularly tired Mac OS Classic, but OS X had plenty of rough edges and frankly still isn't perfect in its last PowerPC incarnation.

    I'll give it credit for introducing USB and not needing a floppy, though.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      No, not just you

      I have always said it was a bit of a Fisher-Price computer, a machine for people who wanted something simple to check their email and surf the web occasionally. I hate the design, personally, but I acknowledge that I'm a techie and a biker, not a design style guru. One thing that can't be argued, however, is that the ergonomics absolutely *suck*, a real First Class ticket to RSI and back problems in one neat package.


  27. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Stop feeding the trolls!

    You know Apple is better and always has been, you PC lads just can't accept being second best!

    ( Grabs flame-proof undies and runs for the door! )

  28. andy gibson

    "kill off the floppy"

    No, all it did was produce lots of sales for third party manufacturers selling USB floppy drives.

    Every iMac we sold went with a VST brand USB floppy drive and "Color Kit" (little coloured plastic covers)

    1. Darryl


      Toshiba/iMate/LaCie et all loved the new "we don't need floppy drive" Macs. I'm sure they made a small fortune selling USB floppy drives for overinflated prices to all of those users (like my company) who found they still needed floppies for years afterwards. Anybody remember the Quark license floppy that shipped with the CD?

    2. Anonymous Coward


      The only Zip drive I found for my sister w/USB cabling, just after the iMac event, was - just try to guess - transparent blueish. Considering the Zip by itself, it got rid of the wall-wart, USB port powering it instead, major improvement in the cable clutter department. But, it cost twice as much as the parallel cabled one. My dad already had his, dark plain blue, with the thick wad of cables 'n all. Not to mention the printer bypass nightmare, daisy-chaining the whole thing, and I dare you to try printing something saved in the Zip drive. Add a parallel-bypass scanner too, for the perfect storm. On that thought, we benefited more from USB than the iMac, that only forced people to shove everything on transparent cases, for twice the price. Can you just guess why would the USB part cost twice as much, since it carried no power source cable and wallwart? I refuse to say it.

      Well, the floppy was killed alright. Not by Macs, but by Zip drives, that in turn were killed by flash drives.

      Now, about the iMac... kudos to Apple designers, really. No CRT before it ever looked stylish. It looks like a TV-DVD combo. If it was ever made in fingerprint-magnet black piano... and a remote...

      But dang, Dell had to copy the smallish diminutive keyboard, hadn't they? I knew I had seen the no-edge design in Dell keyboards somewhere.

  29. tom 36

    Rev A

    I've still got my Rev A in the cupboard in a nice green carry case. Was one of the first in the UK, having pre-ordered as soon as possible. I used it to connect to the internet all the time, though remember having to keep unplugging the cable so my boss could dial up himself. Then we discovered an app which enabled a primitive version of connection sharing - at comedy speeds with comedy reliability. Ah, memories...

  30. LinkOfHyrule

    Very rare in the wild for a 'best seller' if you ask me!

    I don't think I have ever seen one of these in the (transparent) flesh. I saw a few later models in college once and saw that flat-screen model that looks like a table lamp in a shop window once though!

    It was quite an insight seeing what lurked beneath it's oh so '90s exterior! Speaking of which, I'm certainly no Apple fanboi but I would say this thing may of had some impact on the design of consumer electricals at the time as I remember a couple of models of 14" portable tellies for sale in 2000 or there abouts that where made from transparent plastic in an obvious nod to this machine.

    I aint seen that many C64s lurking about either to be honest, ZX Spectrums on the other hand, I think they're a standard feature of every British attic by now!

    Troll, as his hair is probably the same colour as one of those models of iMac.

  31. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Ahh, memories

    Yes, I recall when these came out - and all the "oh no, the sky will fall down" type of cries when people found out there were no serial, ADB, or SCSI ports. Back then, the popular expansion of USB was "Useless Serial Bus" because while it was present on many PCs, the OS (WIndows) didn't really support it, and if it did there was very little choice of things to plug into it.

    Along came the iMac, and within a short space of time there was "USB with everything" peripherals wise - including USB-serial adapters for your legacy stuff. I'd say that 6 to 12 months after the launch of the iMac was when USB actually came to be something you could use - there were now peripherals you could buy to plug into it, and a reason for PC manufacturers to provide it, and Microsoft to support it.

    In reality we really didn't miss the floppy much. We bought a couple of USB floppy drives for those occasions when we needed them, but mostly we used the network. We were also well into using email by then and even with a single 64k ISDN line it was quicker to email files than send them by floppy.

    However, the iMac was also (part of) the beginning of the end of "Macs for all" where I worked at the time. Prior to the iMac, we tended to keep buying reasonable spec models and keep the design people up to date. The old ones rippled down to people who just needed to write memos and such. Once the iMac came along, we started buying them instead of upgrading the high end stuff and shuffling the older ones down. Initially a few people got better machines than they would have, but the designer stopped getting regular upgrades, and it was now more obvious that you could buy a budget PC for less than a 'budget' Mac. The bean counters decreed that we start putting PCs on desks, and thanks to running older versions, it quickly suited certain people to claim that we had to get rid of the rest of the Macs because "Macs can't read PC office files" - it was just a case of old versions of MS Office don't read the latest format (somethings never change eh ?).

    Before long you really needed a good reason to have a Mac - which meant being a designer, or me, the IT guy whose manager had enough sense not to even suggest switching (Mac and Unix, fine; Windows, no thanks).

  32. Mage Silver badge

    " primitive version of connection sharing ... comedy reliability. "

    At home

    We had a network of Win 3.11 with TCP/IP and NT3.51 server running a proxy on 33k modem using Wingate 1.0 in 1995, nearly 3 years before this rather limited iMac came out.

    (I read the manual, so despite using various versions of Wingate up to 2005, it was never an open proxy. Nor ever primitive or unreliable)

    (OK I was an early adopter, I had an Apple II, used an ACT Sirus 1, 300bps BBS and Prestel in 1981)

    By 1996 we had mix of Win 95, Win3.11 and NT4.0 Workstations with an NT4.0 Server. At home.

    The iMac only jump started Apple. It was only significant in USA and in Education only significant at all in USA. It never had a enough market share to be significant to jump starting anything else.

    I was teaching people DTP, WP, Spreadsheets, Programming etc on Windows by 1992.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Ah, the ACT Sirius.

      Now there was a *real* computer, from back in the day, when "PC Compatible" meant "Ran MS-DOS". We wrote a personnel package that ran on networked PCs, and all the hardware primitive routines were in one library, so we could re-write and compile in a specific library for each PC configuration we supported. They were fun days.


    2. jake Silver badge

      By 1985, at home ...

      I had replaced most of the Thicknet & vampire taps with thinnet. Most machines ran Coherent, SunOS or AT&T UNIX[tm]. My Internet connection was a T1 line that I had run myself[1] from my home in Palo Alto's Johnson Park neighborhood to my coloed[2] machine under the CO on Bryant Street. It was terminated at both ends[3] with NET IDNX 10s that I had cobbled together from parts scrapped by NET's MRB (Manufacturing Review Board). Overkill for a home system, yes ... but as a research platform it was (and is) mostly tax deductible.

      Strangely, although I had (still have, actually) a couple of Sun's big 23" Trinitrons, I usually conducted my business with dumb terminals (Wyse 30s for the most part back then, today it's mostly IBM 3151s with Model M keyboards). It might sound odd to anyone reading this, but to this day the first thing I do when installing a new computer for myself is connect a dumb terminal to a serial port. Handy to have a login when the GUI goes titsup ...

      [1] It's amazing what you can get away with if you have a white Ford Econoline van full of electrician's gear, a well-worn tool belt, a reflective safety vest, a hard hat, and carry a clipboard ;-)

      [2] Probably the oldest colo in the world ... 100 year lease @ $1/year, I have my own electrical meter, but the HVAC and halon is free. I write odd things into contracts sometimes. Try it, you'll like it.

      [3] Well, not really, I had a pair of CSU/DSUs between the 10s and the line.

  33. biomister

    3Dfx Game Wizard was the bomb :) I used it for years.

    One funny thing about the Voodoo 2 card in the iMac was that it was a 3D card only. No 2D support at all. The onboard video still had to do all the 2D processing.

    When you started a program that supported the Voodoo 2 card, the screen flashed off and on while the video feed switched from the onboard ATi card to the PCI Voodoo 2 card. During the installation of the PCI card, the CRT video cable was physically re-routed through the PCI card via a short extension cable that was included with the Voodoo 2 kit.

    The Voodoo 2 card let me play Diablo II in 3Dfx/Glide mode (thousands of colors) on my iMac Bondi Rev A *much* better than my friend could manage on his iMac DV 400MHz. The ATi Rage Pro in the DV was absolutely no match for a 3Dfx (Voodoo 2 chipset) card. Nothing was until they added the GeForce cards with the LCD iMacs years later.

    Later, I swapped the original daughter card (233MHz) out for a 333MHz from a 5 flavors iMac and I think the combo of the 3DFX + 333MHz processor gave me the best iMac (CRT) gaming platform there was.

    If only there had been games... (sigh). Oh well!

  34. MrcX

    things do have changed

    Ah... reminds me of the old days, useless battles between "fanbois" and the others, but... hold on... I only see comments of the others here. Proves the fanbois right, no :-)?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better a tray than a caddy.

    Had a 14" non-flatscreen VGA CRT for years. And before that, (shades-of-green) CGA, hercules, and so on. I don't miss CRTs, even if a good one will still give an LCD/TFT/... a run for its money. Not having an electron beam and phosphor in your face beats everything else. Though a solidly made one will last for years, as our (philips, 22"?) TV did. Broke down once, had a mate who heard the tale and said "oh likely that part, easily done". Turns out mate's father ran a telly repair shop. And sure enough, for some fifty quid or so it got fixed and the thing still works. Or would if it hadn't been put out on the street a month or so ago, to finally replace it with something CRT-less. That's still 30 years of colourful service. Or was it 35? I forget.

    The downside of our ever faster replacement-for-upgrade cycles is that the kit itself practically has to be shoddy and therefore must be more often replaced than otherwise would be strictly necessary. That in turn means that we are increasingly dependent on factories to replenish the ever shorter-lived kit. If we aren't about to change that, then we probably should give some more attention to recycling and improve recovery rates.

  36. Doug Glass

    Yeah that ...

    ... and $5,000,000 cash from Microsoft. We shouldn't be forgettin' that small detail.

    1. nation of stupid

      $5 million?

      Actually it was $150,000,000 investment in Apple shares, in exchange for Apple abandoning suing Microsoft for copying the OS, and included a deal to put Explorer on the Mac. Kept Microsoft away from monopolies commissions for a while, and made Microsoft a huge amount of money when they later sold their shares.

  37. jbelkin

    Still Doubters

    Yes, the imac helped kill off the floppy - you don;t have to believe it but it's true. It was launched during the big burst of consumer internet switchers from dialup to broadband - hence the realization that you could just email the file and not bother with 'sneakernet.' Of course, this was before video and large MP digital cameas so it was most low res photos and documents.

    The imac is the best selling personal computer of all time.

    Admitedly it helps that others name their computers X562-TT and cahnge it in 4 months to X562-TTT but that's how you build a brand name with a REAL NAME and not something called Z562gh-500.

    It should also be noted that most dimwit analysts said it was FAIl because no one bought all-in-ones PC's so no one would buy an all-in-one mac.

    They failed to actually see the new circumstances of the industry - that around $1k, no one really needed to think all that hard about major upgrading and replacing major components - they would just buy a whole new computer Or in the case of Macs, it would be years later before it would break down. BTW, the imacs I bought are still functioning fine - no problems with CRT - one did stop working after years, I just used the video cable to port the video portion to an external monitor.

    These are the same dimwits who thought no would buy a Mp3 player for more than $100, nor would anyone buy an apple branded phone and no way would anyone buy a tablet - those things do not sell at all ... yes, we are surrounded by idiots but as apple's sales growth proves - people do get smarter (well, not everyone)

    1. Ted Treen


      "idiot analyst" is tautology.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Famous media campaign?

    This blue Mac, in my memory, started the trend of Macs being featured prominently in the media, primarily TV and movies. Remember that Seinfeld replaced his Mac Classic (?) with one of these, albeit briefly, and I think it was also featured prominently in the Drew Carey show. I don't know how much of this was an effort by Apple's marketing arm and how much was because these shows wanted something flashy/unique.

  39. Stuart Duel
    Jobs Halo

    Good God!

    Some of you guys are so far up Bill Gate's arse, you can smell his cheesy breath.

    Microsoft quite famously COMPLETELY MISSED the internet. It's history, it happened, Bill Gates admits it. What is also recorded history is the Microsoft rampage of destruction that ensued when they woke up to the internet; unethical and much of it illegal behaviour which in the end saw them in court and convicted.

    For years and years after the iMac had eliminated floppy drives, PCs shipped with, and various Windows releases after continued to require, a floppy drive be present. The iMac also saw the retirement of all legacy serial, communication and peripheral ports, standardising on RJ ports and USB.

    It was also the iMac that popularised USB. That is also indisputable. Before then, there may have been USB ports on every PCs, but there was a dearth of devices available for them and fewer still worked reliably on Windows.

    And like it said on the box, connects to the internet in seconds. Unlike a PC at the time... or even still.

    Now surely even the most jaded viewer could not have been just a little impressed by the meticulous attention to detail and almost anally tidy internal cabling, layout and design. From an engineering perspective, it's a thing of beauty.

    If anything this iMac tear-down shows that design really is integral to engineering, and neither an afterthought nor an unnecessary extravagance.

    I never owned the Bondi Blue, but do have a working iMac DV 400MHz G3 (Graphite) in the guest room running reliably. I still have my heart set on owning a Flower Power model.

    1. zappymax

      completely agree

      a push to generalize usb, no floppy, first pc with unidesign in one elegant - and for the first time in pc history , a coloured - volume, simplicity to use for beginners, fast and no trouble web connection, a.s.o.,

      mine went back years ago in his original box... even with all plastic bags...and still stored as a kind of testimony of a change in mind and a "monument" to smart designers.

  40. Stuart Duel

    that $5M from Microsoft...

    ... was for non-voting stock as part of an out of court settlement, nothing more. Apple had a substantial cash pile, assets and little debt on hand at the time. That $5M was inconsequential.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voodoo card shipped

    The Voodoo 2 graphics card shipped. I installed one after the original maker went under and someone liquidated them for about $50 a piece. Combined with a 256MB ram upgrade, the board made major leap forward for games that supported 3Dfx graphics on the Mac (not many).

    I kinda wish I would have kept that iMac, but it did take up a lot of space.

  42. Adrian Esdaile
    Thumb Down

    I'll tell you what crap really is....

    It's the little funny oval-shaped eyeless brown fish you sometimes find at Bondi.

    See, Bondi was, and still IS the place where Sydney dumps its poo in the ocean. Untreated, by the way. Sure, in the 80's we just dumped it right at the beach itself (I'm not kidding), now we use the vastly modern and teckernoglicoal DEEP ocean outfall - which dumps the same untreated poo a few km further out. If we get a good easterly for about 2 days in a row... well Apple should have made the case translucent brown and called it 'Bondi Brown' or 'Bondi Poo'. Suffice to say you would have to be a very drunk or stoned tourist to swim there.

    These days of course, the Australian Tourism people have got Photoshop and Bondi appears to be a brilliant sparkling blue just like the Macs. In the 39 years that I have lived in the Armpit That Is Sydney I have NEVER, EVER seen the water off Bondi look anywhere near the shade known as 'Bondi Blue'. I've seen that colour in plenty of other places - the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, heck even the Greek Cyclades. Bondi? No way.

    If famous for anything apart from moneyed-up celebrity oxygen thieves, rich 'Sydney racing identity' drug-dealers and rock stars with perverse sexual practices, Bondi IS Australia's #1 spot for needle-stick injuries. Hurrah!

  43. blackworx
    Thumb Up


    Have been using their "Gallery xTreme" monitor on my PC for almost 8 years and it still puts a lot of modern panels to shame.

    Oh, and:

    "...essentially a bass-reflex system, but with the porting happening in the back end of the enclosure and not the front..."

    It's not "essentially" a bass reflex system. It *is* a bass reflex system. Having the port at the back makes no difference to the nomenclature.

    Oh, and get me... I just read an entire Apple article without spitting nails. Well, until the fanboy misty-eyedness started towards the end anyway. I skipped that bit.

  44. Ari 1

    iMac didn't start the internet revolution

    iMac didn't start the internet revolution.

    What it DID do was let non-techies go to the store, come home, connect their computer and connect to the internet.

    Anyone saying "yeah, but Win95 could also do that" obviously doesn't remember Win95 properly, or is a complete tech head who does not understand why grandma and grandpa don't understand TCP/IP.

    Yes, you could get a Win95 machine connected in seconds. Around 3600 of them. Because first you needed to put the beige under the desk and monitor on top of the desk, then crawl underneath (very many people have bad eyesight and can't read the backplates on most older BeigeBoxes, modern ones are generally much better) and try to appease the spaghetti gods, hoping that everything was connected correctly (most users have NO idea what all those different cables do or whether they can be connected wrong). If (praise the FSM) everything was connected correctly you could start up the machine and start setting up the comms software, that takes an experienced person about 5-10 minutes, and THEN you can connect to the internet. 3600 seconds is still "in seconds". It IS better to group it into minutes or even hours, but....

    The iMac, OTOH, could be set up by my grandmother (assuming she could lift it). Everything clearly marked, lift and put on table, connect keyboard, mouse, connect net cable and power. All these connections are done up on the table where it's visible. Power on. Select. Connected.

    This is a huge difference, especially as a non-techie could set up an iMac than an expert could set up a typical Win95 (or 98) machine.. I mostly used Win95 (and 98, and XP) but even at the time I could see the attraction.

    The design... Love it, loathe it... doesn't matter. It has become iconic and has clearly influenced modern design immensely. It's just interesting to see that this is what the design department came up with when they were offered a chance to be creative. The same people designed all those bland machines that Apple was churning out at the time. Seems like the only thing missing was some vision at the management level, as the design talent was already there. Jonathan Ive was probably thinking that he needed to get out of that dead end job before everything would go titsup. Then things changed ;)


      One extra cable. Oh the humanity.

      ...yes. Because it's just SO HARD to plug one extra cable into a PC.

      That's what this boils down to, an extra cable for the external monitor.

      At the very dawn of the Internet age, it was pretty trivial to get on the net with a PC. There were plenty of 3rd parties quite willing to help you. This included the PC makers themselves as well as the ISPs themselves. It was by no means rocket science.

      Linux serial modem scripts were rocket science but that was something else entirely...

      Broadband made all of that moot. Even a 1994 copy of Slackware could get on the net easy after that.

  45. Scorchio!!

    That ugly?

    Sometimes I wonder what all the shouting is about. His Jobsiness focuses on design for sure, but that thing is plug ugly. I found myself wondering if it can only be operated with the left hand. :-)

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    iMac DV SE

    We have a few iMac DV SEs in the lab, still working perfectly after a decade's use. The graphite DV SE is still my favourite piece of Apple industrial design. They're lovely-looking pieces of kit.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iCEO, not CEO

    A small point, but a relevant one, Jobs wasn't yet the company's CEO but its interim one when he revealed the iMac.

    It's also been claimed that work on the iMac was well underway by the time that he returned to Apple, so his legendary appreciation for design may not have had quite the impact on the original iMac as many believe.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      or "Overlord and Master of Your Pathetic, Worthless Lives (interim)" on formal correspondence.

      From a design perspective, I preferred the second-generation, slot-loading model, but this is the original, I guess...

      I believe that some of iMac's hardware was in development before Steve Jobs - rumour was that it was going to be Apple's "Network Computer" (remember them?) - but there's no way that a pre-Jobs managment would have signed off on that case design, though, so in the way that mattered it was Jobs's and Ive's baby.

      My claim to fame: the most-used bit of software I ever wrote was preinstalled on that machine. It was a nice computer, but you have no idea how hard it was to make that bloody disk tray eject when empty... deprived me of a lot of sleep.

      Little-known trivia: the original power cord for the first prototypes had a translucent outer sheath, with the conductors inside coloured white, grey and bondi-blue. Thankfully for Apple, and unfortunately for the class-action lawyers, this was quickly replaced with a brown/blue/yellow-green design that could actually pass electrical safety regulations.

      But there was no doubt about it within Apple: iMac saved the company. It brought in new users in a way that no machine had since the original Mac, and it got a lot of exposure for the company. Over a decade later the iMac's design language is still lurking in some of MacOS X's UI (buttons, dialog boxes, drop-down menus).

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Kristian Walsh

        "Little-known trivia: the original power cord for the first prototypes had a translucent outer sheath, with the conductors inside coloured white, grey and bondi-blue. Thankfully for Apple, and unfortunately for the class-action lawyers, this was quickly replaced with a brown/blue/yellow-green design that could actually pass electrical safety regulations."

        I call bullshit. Those wire colo(u)rs are Brit standards, not Yank ... The prototype iMacs that I came into contact with all had opaque C13/C14 plug/socket combos ...

        1. Ivan Headache

          Sorry jake

          All the Rev a imacs I dealt with in the UK had the translucent power cables and plugs..

          Got one here hanging up. The inner wires are the standard UK colours and the 13amp plug has an orange inside so you can't actually see the wire inside or the backs of the pins

          The original iBook also had the translucent cable and plugs.

          1. jake Silver badge

            S/he said "prototype", not "Rev A"

            I was a pilot build tester for Apple ...

            1. Ivan Headache

              Fair enough.

              Missed that.

            2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

              Good for you..

              You know, I sat at home all these years just waiting for an article on the iMac to appear on El Reg, so that I could finally unleash my "zany coloured power cord" fabrication onto the web, and thence find the fame and fortune so far denied to me by a cruel, uncaring world.

              And I would have got away with it, if it wasn't for you, jake, ever vigilant in the pursuit of those scoundrels like me who would try to deceive the naive readers of this venerable organ.

              All those years working at Apple to build up a plausible cover, those long weeks writing the iMac pre-install software to lend weight to my later claims, all in vain. All for naught. All mere ashes of what could have been. That guest spot on a popular tech blog podcast? Gone, probably to Eric Schmidt. Again.

              Sir, though defeated, I cannot but salute you. Your dogged determination has won the day. Those who would be troubled by fears of oddly-coloured power cables can sleep soundly tonight, and in the morning rise knowing that you will be ever vigilant.

              I wish you a good day.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Beer's on me, Ivan ... I'll spring for lunch, too :-)

                Kristian, you're also invited to said lunch. But ask yourself ...

                Instead of commenting that you had access to actual prototype[1] iMacs in Blighty, and that they came with with the translucent cables (and teaching me something that I didn't know), or that you were discussing Rev A "available to consumers" iMacs (or something in between), you chose angst. For whatever reason. Follow your bliss.

                [1] Prototype, Pilot, Alpha, Beta, then Rev A ...

                1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

                  Mine's a Beamish...

                  Okay, re-reading today, that's probably a bit too much sarcasm, without any explanation:

                  I never mentioned the UK in my post. I worked at Apple's Cork (Ireland) facility, and for the iMac project, I developed the user-visible parts of the out-of-box installer that debuted on this model (For US, models were preloaded with English software, but units for other markets were preloaded with an installer, and had a local-language restore CD in the box).

                  There was a manufacturing line for those units 50 metres from my office and a lot of the system software test was still done in Cork at this time too, so there were plenty of very early units available, but not everyone had easy access to them. It was the start of Steve's cult of secrecy; before this time, we'd often have early hardware just lying around -- the "Batman"-style Powerbook G3 that was launched the same day as the iMac was like a paperweight around our office for months before, but we saw no iMacs at all until after Steve's announcement.

                  What I worked with were development and manufacturing prototypes - DVT then PVT units (Design Validation Test and Production Validation Test, if memory serves, but it was a long time ago), probably what you're calling Pilot and Alpha (if "Beta" is Production Ramp-up). These are all "prototypes", for different stages of the product development process, but if it helps you to identify them, the former units were near-production boards in a makeshift case, but with most metalwork (Faraday cage, spacers, drive bracket, custom-form PSU) in place, the latter had full casework, with some placeholders for plastic parts that weren't yet available from suppliers. The offending power cord came with the earlier units, but thrown in the box. It was most likely a sample part that was sent from one of Apple's suppliers, with the intention of being the final in-box power cable. I'm sure it didn't get too far before someone pointed out that the inner conductor colours may have been approved for use in the US, but they would never be allowed in Europe, and so the cord was changed.

                  Bon Apetit...

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Ta, Kristian

                    Lots of us have been in the trenches over the years ... Let's continue communicating, and advocating that communication. Over the long-haul, it'll make all of our lives easier :-)

        2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge


          Wow... such venom, but then it is a matter of great importance, I suppose. Not to me, mind you...

          Seriously, why would I make this up? I remember holding the thing in my hand, and showing it to the others in the office, because it was such an oddity. It was a US-plug to IEC380 "kettle plug", and the wire colours inside were white, grey and blue under a translucent sheath. It's possible it was actually black/white/green (the non-IEC US scheme) under a blue sheath, but I don't remember seeing these cables again beyond that one unit, probably because the brown/blue/green cables are approved everywhere (not just EU, but worldwide), but the other is a US-only type.

          1. jake Silver badge

            That's venomous?

            Grow a thicker skin ... And read my reply to Ivan, above.

  48. Badwolf

    Happy Days Pt 2

    Lovely machine - I had the DV version and was very happy to have a machine that just worked

    Kept my microsoft mouse to run with it though :)

  49. Ted Treen

    Trolls? - Too many of 'em...

    Interesting to note that the later the comment, the more reasoned and rational the discourse, generally.

    Initial knee-jerk reactions from the microsofties come first, invariably putting a subjective viewpoint as if it were objective.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trolls? - Too many of 'em...

      Are you feeling OK Ted? You've made a post without shoehorning the word "sophistry" into it.

  50. Alan Bourke

    I remember them well.

    Masterpiece of design and marketing as you would expect from Apple. Masterful packaging of functionality for non-tech users, too. Innovative? Apart from the case, not really.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The hole in the iMac

    That hole was actually just a finger hole NOT for putting cables through the cables went out the bottom of the door.

  52. hoboroadie

    massive, deadly voltages

    I don't want to encourage any gratuitous tomfoolery, but I survived from my toddler days surrounded by CRTs opened up and charged, many live and operating. What you mainly want to avoid is the 20-30 Kv stored and accessible at the anode of the CRT itself. (That's a metal connector on the side of the fat part on the back of the tube, usually hidden under a wide rubbery cap.) Also pretty much the red wire hooked into that, and anything that it connects to. When the set is unplugged and capacitively charged, it's only like a really good cattle prod; The trick is to arrange your body/arm whatever so that the spasm doesn't drive soft tissue into sharp metal bits. The worst I've ever done was an occasional scratch or small piercing. Maharishi Bob got a 3mm blackened hole through a thumbnail once, but he was always pretty free with reaching into live sets. My dad's electric fence charger has more knockdown power, in my experience. Oh, and keep one hand in a pocket or behind your back, if you REALLY try, you can actually get killed.

    1. Luiz Abdala

      That's why...

      ...only Mac engineers had the guts to follow what their fellow designers had envisioned to the letter.

      The last PC, that had joined bodies like this one, that I have seen, was way back in the 80's or 70's (CP500 - Prologica is an ) but none ever since.

      And I bet those allowed access to PC parts with no need to get near the CRT parts.

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