back to article The iMac at 22: How the computer 'too odd to succeed' changed everything ... for Apple, at least

On this day in 1998, Steve Jobs took to the stage of the Moscone Center in San Francisco for a product launch that would indelibly change the face of computing and arguably save the firm he founded almost 22 years earlier. The machine showcased at the MacWorld event was the iMac G3. It was, to put it gently, uncharacteristic …

  1. Slipoch

    Sorry guys, the iMac was riipping off the SGI boxes before it like the o2 and indigo's coloured and shaped chassis.

    Hell they even took Macs to the gfx and vfx conferences prior to launching these. No-one took much notice of them because they couldn't do anything compared to the other machines.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      SGI were way more revolutionary.

      The iMacs were sold to rich Californians to have a computer at home for the kids. So it wasn't exactly revolutionary that it matched a teenage girl's bedroom.

      SGI sold the most powerfull machines you could fit on a desk - to people curing cancer.

      It takes a lot more chutzpah to sell a $20,000 machine for drug design and say - oh by the way, it's going to be pink

      As a mere physicist we got Suns to repalce the Vaxen - always envious of the chemists

      1. VicMortimer

        SGI was happy enough to sell one to somebody playing with drugs if they wanted to buy one, but those machines were built for CGI, and the real market cared what it looked like.

        But as I recall, Merck was mostly using blue & white G3s back then.

        The iMac was actually Apple's corporate workstation design, that's why it got 100Mb/s ethernet. It just got a design revamp that also put it in homes.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Didn't know they were used in CGI - in science they were always chemist's choice

          The physicists and engineers all had boring Suns or RS6000 boxes

          1. PTW

            boring Suns

            Our fluid dynamics guys used Suns, I still hanker after one of the original Mouse Systems patterned "desk mats" even though I use a trackball!

          2. Kerry Hoskin

            when I started in a lab in 1998 we had a mix of SGI (mainly indigos) and Sun boxes (mainly ultra5, 10 and a few 60s) The SGI boxes went first and then when the lab worked out you could get a DELL Precision workstation running Linux for 1/3 the price f a SUN Ultra10 they soon followed!

        2. Korev Silver badge
          Boffin

          SGI was happy enough to sell one to somebody playing with drugs if they wanted to buy one, but those machines were built for CGI, and the real market cared what it looked like.

          But as I recall, Merck was mostly using blue & white G3s back then.

          I suspect in the computational chemistry & structural biology groups it would have been all SGI back then.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Yep. Vax for the input side then SGI for the glorious 3D renderings of anatomical data. The Vax could also output a 3D reconstruction on a big high resolution screen... if you were prepared to give it 30 minutes or so.

        3. Persona Silver badge

          We used SGI boxes for CGI. The good thing about CGI was when you hit a bug in the SGI C compiler it was easy to spot because you got a very visible artefact. I guess with drug development you have to wait a little longer then count the bodies. We found several bugs in their compiler plus one we were convinced was a compiler bug but turned out to be a maths processor hardware issue.

      2. Persona Silver badge

        So it wasn't exactly revolutionary that it matched a teenage girl's bedroom.

        The year after the iMac they came out with the iBook G3 ("Clamshell"). This hideous item looked out of place even in a teenage girl's bedroom.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I really do not know how you could say that. The o2 was, if anything, a beige-box computer in a fairly bland blue case and IIRC it was intended for "Multimedia use". They never claimed it to be a gfx/mfx computer.

      Now if you had been referring to the Octane then I might have been more impressed.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Actually, you'd be surprised. The O2 was a bit of an oddity, but it did have a unique "universal memory" architecture for the time. The graphics weren't the most powerful, but it could do pretty cool things by using videos in system RAM as textures in a model by simply passing the pointer (as the memory was shared between graphics and system).

        Unfortunately it was mis-sold by some SGI sales reps as a replacement for the older and far more graphically beefy Indigo2, this did hurt SGI's reputation a bit when some customers found the graphics performance of their new systems to be poorer than their old ones.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Apple turned the computer into a consumer device. As such they were able to sell them to people who wouldn't have bought a computer otherwise. Removing stuff such as ports and floppy drives made them attractive to a lot people: SWMBO hates my electronic gadgets because of all the cables. SGI was in a completely different market but Apple, like Microsoft before them, managed to use the consumer product to drive business sales.

      Personally, I never liked the IMac but putting the computer into the screen also made it a much more portable solution.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        The SGI boxes looked nothing like an iMac! They were made of stamped mild steel with a curvy moulded ABS shell - much like many beige PCs at the time, only coloured. The iMac used polycarbonate structurally - honesty of materials and form (since it was enclosing a curvy CRT tube, and injection molding doesn't like sharp edges or 90 degree angles). The Pixar Image Computer and the NeXt workstation (both designed by Esslinger who had developed the Mac's 'Snow White' design language) were both more honest to their pressed steel in a cube construction.

        Industrial and Product Designers at the time would have been familiar with SGI boxes because they were used for CAD.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          The SGI boxes looked nothing like an iMac!

          I never said they did! I loved the SGIs and the NeXTs, which were technically and aesthetically wonderful, but still aimed at "engineers". Apple targeted consumers but were also successful with businesses as a result by showing that a computer doesn't have to be a set of boring brown boxes with lots of cables. (Pleeeease don't look at my office!)

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Sorry Charlie, you're right, you didn't say that. The OP did, and I hit the wrong Reply button. Cheers!

  2. ThomH

    Didn't Jobs actually say...

    "The back of this thing looks better than the front of the other guys"?

    Being more computery than the average consumer, I remained uninterested in the Mac until OS X when the pitch was a UNIX with a first-class UI (this was in the XP period, recall) that runs Microsoft Office (with bonus nerd points: it's RISC!). I'm still a big fan.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Didn't Jobs actually say...

      Definitely eye-catching and though these days we say Apple charge extra for superficiality, it's machines like this which make the idea of a PC in the living room not hidden in a study/attic attractive.

      Now that role has been filled with laptops, and even regular desktops tend to come in quite small cases. It's easy to forget just HOW big and ugly those beige boxes were.

  3. Martin an gof Silver badge

    The full-blown Apple formula

    Make it "desirable" - this machine looked different, in a good way, to anything else on the market.

    Make it familiar - it ran Apple's OS. In the 'states and in Yorkshire (oddly), Apple was standard in schools*

    Give it some useful features that few other devices have - even in 1998, networking was an "extra" for Windows machines (certainly those destined for the home) - very few motherboards (did any?) came with a port as standard and consumer machines often didn't include the add-in card. Installing a network card on Windows was far from plug-and-play even once W98 was out but here it was, already built-in and working in the iMac.

    After all the good stuff you then make it incompatible with previous and other systems in clever ways.

    The machine had a CD drive, but IIRC it was read-only, not a writer, so the only way to get information out of the machine was by network or by "something" that plugged into a USB port. Of course, Apple had such devices ready.

    Unceremoniously ditching the external SCSI bus and the Apple Desktop Bus meant that anyone already invested in the system had to buy new peripherals (they couldn't bring the keyboard from their old Mac with them), and with Windows's USB stack being somewhat fragile at that point (from what I remember) the market for third-party USB peripherals was quite small.

    So Apple made a desirable machine, the buying of which was only the first part, and also made a lot of money from the add-ons.

    It's a formula that worked for them for many years after that (as witnessed by the sheer variety of adapters I have to carry at work in order to be able to connect Apple machines to projectors), but seems to have fallen apart more recently, or maybe the PowerMac's monitor stand and case wheels are just someone trying to see how far they can push the punters.

    M.

    *I understand the point about the clones. Apple saw Microsoft and thought they could emulate them, completely forgetting that while Microsoft had always been purely a software company (that has failed time after time in hardware), Apple had always been a software *and* hardware company. What most people forget with the clone debacle though is that it introduced a lot more people to MacOS who would otherwise have ignored it on cost grounds alone. When the clone market was shuttered, these people had often already invested time and money in MacOS software and were either going to have to start from scratch with Windows or would be compelled to buy new Apple hardware. I would contend that while in the short run the clones were (very) bad for Apple, once Apple had blocked the clone makers, the larger userbase became an asset - people who would in future buy Apple hardware.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: The full-blown Apple formula

      Unceremoniously ditching the external SCSI bus and the Apple Desktop Bus meant that anyone already invested in the system had to buy new peripherals (they couldn't bring the keyboard from their old Mac with them),

      Looks at a pile of now unloved "Thunderbolt" adaptors....

      and with Windows's USB stack being somewhat fragile at that point (from what I remember) the market for third-party USB peripherals was quite small.

      IIRC only the home Win9* had USB support to some extent at that point and Win2k was the first version of the NT family to support it.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Context of floppy disc drive

        At the time of the iMac's release:

        - Floppy discs weren't always big enough for a single Word document if it contained too many photos. Photos were finding their way into more documents because scanners were cheap and digital cameras were becoming mainstream.

        -Floppy discs were unreliable.

        -My fellow students and I were encouraged to buy Zip disk drives by the university.

        -Solid state storage was making an appearance but was impractically expensive.

        -There was only USB 1 which was very slow for transferring data. This didn't matter to Mac users because all Macs had FireWire, as did many scanners, external hard drives, camcorders, sound cards.

        -Non-metered (dial-up) internet was beginning to make an appearance in the UK. The existence of the internet was Apple's stated rational behind ditching the floppy disc drive.

        I was studying Product Design, so I had a PC dual booting NT 4 (for CAD) and Win 98 (for USB support). The lectures often had the latest gadgets (pre-iPod MP3 players) and my graphic and and art student mates had Macs, some iMac G3s. Bang to the buck went to PCs - I could have a lot more Photoshop layers than the poor iMac G3s. Getting data off a camcorder? Macs much easier.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Context of floppy disc drive

          "-Floppy discs were unreliable." but zip drives weren't? (icon)

          1. William Towle

            Re: Context of floppy disc drive

            > "-Floppy discs were unreliable." but zip drives weren't? (icon)

            I was at the University of Leeds until the mid-90s, and at some point around then they set about replacing the main lab's SGI Indigos with linux PCs, fitting each with Zip drives. Those that knew staff heard many a grumble in the pub about use of the cheapest floppy disks available for submission of coursework, with obvious consequences (...I used direct electronic means by preference, but that wasn't necessarily offered universally). That the OP was offered submission by Zip instead is not a surprise.

            Yes, Click of Death turned out to be a thing however I had two SCSI Zip drives (external on Amiga, internal on PC) of which neither succumbed despite heavy use of the former. Happily, restoring backups made with the latter turned out not to be a necessity \o/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The full-blown Apple formula

      A relative of mine had one of those Bondi Blue iMacs at home, on loan from their school in Yorkshire. I tried to use it once, and I don't know if it had serious design issues or if it was partly my own fault for not having any previous Apple experience (or both?), but I found it super hard work to use. What with it's three or four massive icons on the desktop and no obvious signs of a start menu, it left me repeatedly trying to right click on a one button mouse! Never had I pined for a right mouse button so badly.

      1. The First Dave Silver badge

        Re: The full-blown Apple formula

        So, how many 'ordinary users' have you come across through the years that simply never use right-click, never mind middle-click on a PC, and don't know what you mean when you mention it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The full-blown Apple formula

          @The First Dave

          Not as many as you think. While it is true I have had to explain that right click means click the right mouse button once or twice to complete noobs, at least I could remotely talk them through pressing it to easily accomplish a task. I wouldn't have missed it so much on the iMac had their been an obvious application menu, because without either - and not needing to use one of the very massive desktop icons - I literally had no clue how to even launch an application. In the end I had to resort to pressing random keys on the keyboard just to open a browser. That's bad design IMO.

          You might say it is obvious, and of course everything is obvious once you know how, but there is nothing intuitive about Mac OS.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: The full-blown Apple formula

        The mouses were an abomination, thankfully you could replace them just fine.

        Which reminds me, I meant to collect an old G3 iMac off a friend who was contemplating turning it into a cat box.

        Gimp because you had to be one to use the original mouse and keyboard.

      3. Nifty Bronze badge

        Re: The full-blown Apple formula

        The Mrs wanted an iMac. The smooth featureless cordless mouse had no right click, so thinking this was normal ("Macs are different") I used the toolbar menu for context actions, till I discovered 2 months on that you had to go into settings and enable right click.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: The full-blown Apple formula

          I think the early mice did indeed only have one button. Context menus could (still can) be brought up by <ctrl>-clicking (or whatever passes for ctrl on a Mac keyboard...

          Acorn's three-button mouse is still the best ;-)

          M.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: The full-blown Apple formula

      In Yorkshire? Must have been in the nicer parts around York or Leeds... In all my schooling in North Yorkshire I never saw a mac other than the rumour of 2 Apple] ['s under the main stage basement in my second, secondary school.

      Apparently they had some really good scanners or something but got left since that was pretty much all the staff thought they were good for.

      Everything else was BBC micros, Windows 3.1/95, some Acorns in the music labs and a bunch of Gold mono-chrome schneider Euro PC's (which I'd swear was training us to work as spies since we had one of the listening posts up the road).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The full-blown Apple formula

        @Sgt_Oddball

        Close, it was the Wakefield area. I never saw any Apple machines in my schools either, but my relative was much younger than I. I can't recall if the loan was from the LEA directly or the school, but I was surprised they'd paid the Apple tax. Maybe they had a much better deal for the education market? In my schools (West and South Yorkshire) most places used the Atari 520 ST. A few early adopters had BBC Model B's but the cost of their upgrade path meant just one or two Archimedes machines were purchased to use alongside a room full of the by-then obsolete Model B's as it was just too costly to replace them all. The Atari ST offered much better value at the time.

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: The full-blown Apple formula

        In Yorkshire?

        Seemed to be standard(ish) in South Yorks. Put it this way, when I married, my wife - a teacher in Doncaster and Rotherham - had never used a GUI other than Mac OS. The few primary schools that I knew well in the area all had Macs, I suspect there were at least some Windows machines in the secondary schools, but up until the early 2000s, Macs were favoured by the education authority.

        M.

    4. Joe Gurman

      Re: The full-blown Apple formula

      It must be nice to live in a bubble of Reg readers (and commenters) who are certain of a point of view of the computing industry, but this simply does not match reality.

      People — the people for whom the iMac was designed, consumers — flocked to the iMac when it was introduced. Not only did it do what Apple claimed (make it simpler to connect to the Internet), the machine ditched bad interfaces in favo[u]r of better ones. SCSI had never been anything but problematic on the Mac (unless you had a top-end machine and could afford an LVD card and similarly expensive cabling and peripherals), and ADB (the loss of which caused far more complaints in the Mac user base) was already well past simply "showing its age." The only possibly valid criticism of the port changes was the loss of serial ports — but of course, third parties were selling USB to serial adapters within year.

      Apple was completely vindicated in chucking the old and less than functional in favo[ur]r of the news and functionally more agile. With a couple of years, PCs were sprouting multiple USB ports, modem ports, and the like, not out of slavish copying but because that's what consumers expected by then.

      As a (then) minicomputer guy who also used high-end Macs for video production, &c. at the time, I only "got it" when I was in a Sears to pick up some tools, and was taken aback to see that (1) they had an iMac display, with several available for the punters to play with, and (2) that the punters went from quizzical looks to making their own movies in iMovie in under five minutes. It wasn't;t just the hardware.

      And just a note for the o2 fans: At the time, I worked in a space mission science operations facility, which we had wisely (or more accurately, by blind luck) designed to depend on interface standards (like this TCP/IP thing that appeared to be so popular) rather than hardware or OS brands. Groups from several countries with instruments on the spacecraft had multi-workstation setups, all strung together and both receiving data from and sending commands to their onboard instruments via the mighty power of 10 Mbps Ethernet. There were Suns, Vaxes[/n], Alphas, Macs, IBM AIX machines, and.... one group with o2s. Everything played nicely together, except the o2s. Even if all the TCP/IP stuff weren't (initially) so broken, the complete lack of knowledge (not to mention practice) of simple security measures (e.g. "r" commands were a Really Bad Idea) amongst the university group that brought those meant we had a 2 - 3 year job of debugging all their issues. SGI was notoriously behind the curve in publishing security updates in those years (probably because they were hemorrhaging staff after the announcement of their switch to the Itanic), and we several times came within a hairs breadth of being kicked off the operational network for having unpatched vulnerabilities for month after month. Blecch.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: The full-blown Apple formula

        People — the people for whom the iMac was designed, consumers — flocked to the iMac when it was introduced.

        I never said that they didn't.

        the machine ditched bad interfaces in favo[u]r of better ones. SCSI had never been anything but problematic on the Mac...

        If that's the case then it was the fault of Apple, not of the standard. The way SCSI worked was pretty easily understood and seemed to work in other systems, most of the time. Terminator voodoo notwithstanding.

        and ADB (the loss of which caused far more complaints in the Mac user base) was already well past simply "showing its age."

        Does it really matter for a bus that essentially only had to deal with keyboard and mouse? By the time of the iMac, it would have cost Apple a very few cents to add an ADB connector to each machine and it would have made migrating existing users much less painful.

        But it didn't fit with the "design-led" approach. And it wouldn't have enabled Apple to squeeze every last penny out of a buying public who were lustful for something that not only worked, but actually looked pretty.

        I think my point is that while there were a lot of really good ideas in the iMac, it was its marketing that really won and Apple knew that with the correct marketing they could play as fast and loose as they liked with their existing customers. They didn't have to ditch every previous standard, particularly when:

        third parties were selling USB to serial adapters within year

        Given the sheer number of peripherals which relied on a serial connection, there should have been serial interfaces on day one. There should have been alternative keyboards and mice on day one, there should have been a portable information transfer medium on day one, but that didn't matter because by not providing those things, people were forced to accept Apple's own solutions. These days we forget what a sheer amount of hassle it was because whenever Apple changes the connector on an iPhone it doesn't take a year for third party devices to appear, they are out within a few weeks.

        Still causes me hassle though, because every time Apple (or these days, Microsoft) changes the ports on a laptop I have to explain to the hip-and-trendy yet again, that our very nice projectors have standard HDMI and VGA interfaces and won't talk to their Air or Surface without an appropriate adapter. No I don't have one because up until now, no-one has needed one.

        I've told the story here previously of a trade show we held where one exhibitor insisted on wired internet rather than our WiFi, and then complained when I presented her with an RJ45 as it was "the wrong type of plug". Her Macbook didn't have a standard network socket. I assume she left the adapter she normally used on the desk at work. Maybe she didn't realise it was an adapter.

        Yes, of course, everyone with any kind of sense recognised even before the iMac came out that USB would eventually supplant pretty much all other low- and medium-speed interfaces and the fact that USB actually worked in the iMac when Windows struggled even to run a USB desk fan certainly helped. But in the early 2000s USB wasn't anywhere near being a replacement for external SCSI though of course, there was Firewire for that. Shame that even though it had been available for several years, very few devices had swapped from SCSI to Firewire. Perhaps if the PC market had taken it up a bit more enthusiastically :-)

        Rambling, sorry.

        M.

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: The full-blown Apple formula

        SCSI had never been anything but problematic on the Mac

        Have an upvote, because what you post is fairly spot on according to my fuzzy memory - except for the SCSI bit.

        My memories are that generally SCSI was reliable and (for the day) very fast. There were issues around the time of the PowerPC introduction when the new SCSI subsystem software was buggy, but other than that I found it fairly reliable. The ability to daisy chain hard drives, scanners, printers, tape drives, and anything else you could actually afford to buy was great - at a time when PC users were messing around with crap like parallel port ZIP drives and the like (completely non-daisy-chainable).

        Biggest issues were around the proliferation of SCSI standards and connectors, and just p**s-poor cables.

        One complete and utter PITA I had was user inflicted - i.e. I should have said no. A (long standing and valuable IIRC) customer came along and wanted a SCSI cable for his portable. As I recall, the Apple portables used yet another cable with a more compact connector than the D25 used on the desktops until then. The other end of this cable had the wrong connector - I can't recall whether it had the 50 pin Amphenol or a D25 socket - and he wanted me to cut the wrong one off and fit the other type. Silly me accepted the challenge - and found rather more cores in the cable than expected, all of which needed to be ringed out and connected to the right pins in the new connector. I managed it though, and the customer was happy.

    5. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: The full-blown Apple formula

      with Windows's USB stack being somewhat fragile at that point

      That's a polite understatement. The joke in the Win 95-98 era was that USB stood for "U Son-of-a Bitch."

  4. VicMortimer

    And that means Apple is now 44.

    So how's that for weird? The iMac is 22, Apple is 44.

    I just really wish Woz had won the argument.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

      I just really wish Woz had won the argument.

      Which particular argument?

      M.

      1. TheRealRoland

        Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

        "An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a definite proposition"

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

          "An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a definite proposition"

          No it isn't.

          1. Sandtitz Silver badge

            Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

            "No it isn't."

            Yes it is! It isn't just contradiction.

            1. spuck

              Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

              I'm sorry, I can't argue with you unless you pay.

              1. 9Rune5 Silver badge

                Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

                Unless you argue with him in your spare time.

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

      Is that one where Woz wanted to push the Apple IIgs, and Steve Jobs wanted to kneecap it so it wouldn't compete with his Macintosh? Don't know if that story is actually true (but I wouldn't have put it past Jobs to sabotage something that interfered with his "vision"), but I absolutely think the IIgs should have been pushed and developed a lot more. Just imagine what an "Apple i-GS" could have been like, had they kept up the development. (yeah, would have had an entirely different name by then, with or without the "i"). But I'm sure Apple would have found a way to lock-down and lock users out of an "Apple II zeta-zeta" by now.

  5. Androgynous Cow Herd

    That Dell quote

    Isn't it ironic that Michael eventually sold the company and gave the money back to the shareholders

    A fool and his money is some party

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      More context:

      A Wired opinion piece from 1997, 101 Ways to Save Apple.

      On some things - Get out of the hardware game, encourage clones - Wired were completely off the mark.

      On other things - ditch the multicolour logo, make a computer appealling to children, use NeXtStep - Wired were correct.

      So roughly, Wired were 50% correct, which is what one expects of a chimpanzee answering a binary choice questionnaire.

      https://www.wired.com/1997/06/apple-3/

  6. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    iMac was not introduced at '98 Macworld

    It was introduced at a special Apple event at Moscone Center in May 98.

    Its Macworld debut was summer '98 in NYC. I know because I went to that Macworld expo.

    It was a blast! I watched Steve Jobs demo the iMac after the keynote at the Apple iMac booth on the show floor.

    The 13 different hues came later. The iMac introduced in 1998 only came in Bondi blue.

  7. Blackjack Silver badge

    Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

    Apple lost their distinctive designs.

    A Mac just looks like a PC with the apple logo on it.

    No clamshell laptops.

    Apple has become extremely generic and overpriced.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

      You know Apple's losing it when their idea of a laptop touchscreen is a half inch tall and nine inches long

      And it's on the keyboard

      Nobody copies Apple design anymore.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

        "Nobody copies Apple design anymore."

        Isn't Huawei just starting to sell AirPod clones?

    2. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

      The trash can Mac Pro was pretty distinctive. For a computer, that is; as a trash can, it's pretty generic. The more modern take on the cheese grater (which looks more like an actual cheese grater than the one they call the cheese grater) is distinctive in its ugliness.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

        it's also distinctive in its price

        1. hmv Silver badge

          Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

          Not especially - compare it with equivalent workstations from Dell or HP.

          Now if you were to say there should be a Mac Pro mini at half the price and half the expandability, I'd agree.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

            $1000 monitor stands and $1000 wheels? Sure boosts my productivity.

            1. Joe Gurman

              Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

              Right, and if you actually knew anything about the 2019 Mac Pro you'd know it was meant for use in professional application in video and music editing.... where monitors generally are embedded din consoles, and CPU's are generally racked, or at least sitting under the consoles, an d not on wheels (a whole lot of those production facilities are in earthquake-prone California).

    3. luminous

      Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

      Maybe when it comes to laptops although the Air is still the best looking lightweight laptop out there.

      But when it comes to desktop computing... I really don't understand what you are talking about. The new Mac Pro looks NOTHING like any of the competition. Only the HP Elite Slice seems to be close to the new Mac Mini.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

        I'd argue the current Asus Zenbook is better looking in its minimalism.

    4. Mr F&*king Grumpy

      Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

      No, actually Apple's distinctive designs were (shoddily, usually) copied by everybody else. Practically every laptop on the market now has a design that can be traced back to the PowerBook G4 "Titanium".

      Pretty amazing how Apple has got to where it is, given that according to the massed ranks of El Reg Commentardery, everything they've ever done is (a) a shameless copy of some unsung hero company's work, (b) crap, (c) ridiculously overpriced and (d) would never be bought by anybody.

      Back in the day I remember desperately trying to hide whenever I encountered my swivel-eyed W95 fan neighbour keen to buttonhole me about why his beige boxes where better than my Mac. Visiting El Reg brings those days back into sharp focus....

      1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

        Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

        I'm not going to argue about the OS. I think most people agree that Apple's OS is pretty strong.

        Their hardware though has always been over designer, under powered and way more expensive than it needed to be. It really does come with.... i'll say "cool tax" rather than what is usually used around here. Anybody remember the $1000 monitor stand?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

          The original cheese grater Mac Pro was not form over function. It was considered one of the most accessible, easy to service computers going. And with no sharp edges inside to cut your fingers on, joy! Its base configuration was fair value (according the The Register, no less) - it was it when configuring it with Apple-installed RAM etc that it got pricy.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

          The iPid was not form over function - it fitted in your pocket, unlike Creative's jukebox which for reasons unknown styled itself on portable CD players.

          The iPod more resembled a cigarette case (in size and rounded corners) a product which has a hundred year track record of being easy to pocket.

          1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

            Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

            The iPod was a terrible piece of kit. The sound from it was awful and you could buy much better bits of kit for less. It is exactly what i'm talking about.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

              The form of the iPod had nothing to do with Apple's choice of DAC.

              I'm struggling to think of any contemporary MP3 as well done as the iPod. And I had a few.

              I had an iRiver H320 - similar form factor as the iPod, same HDD and battery even, it had a colour screen, mic and line in, audio quality to appease snobs... But the UI didn't have a scroll wheel which made long lists of folders a chore to navigate.

          2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

            The iPod more resembled a cigarette case (in size and rounded corners) a product which has a hundred year track record of being easy to pocket.

            I thought the original whyPod resembled an upside-down radio/communicator from Joe90...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              The iPod was a commercial failure....

              Until (1) the USB version was released (2) for Windows.

              Steve Jobs called iTunes for Windows "like offering a glass of water to someone in hell"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

        Pretty amazing how Apple has got to where it is, given that according to the massed ranks of El Reg Commentardery, everything they've ever done is (a) a shameless copy of some unsung hero company's work, (b) crap, (c) ridiculously overpriced and (d) would never be bought by anybody.

        It's not really amazing at all. Amazon is a fashion company selling ridiculously overpriced stuff on the USP of being without the latest iThing is Not Cool.

        As to why that's less than universally popular, waving around fashion accessories worth more than the monthly takehome pay after tax of over a third of the population is something that generally has been socially unacceptable in the west since the peasants in France got fed up with their aristocracy rubbing it in like this and guillotined as many of them as they could get their hands on. The survivors decided that perhaps a more restrained mode of dress would be prudent and the aristocracy elseware decided they didn't wish to pointlessly antagonise their plebs and followed suit.

        In short, extravagant dress, excessive jewelry or decking yourself out with gold chains etc to show how wealthy you are has been really deeply socially unacceptable for two hundred years. Apple has managed to make waving a fashion accessory around that's worth as noted more than a third of full time salaried workers in the UK take home a month cool (and fuck knows what percentage that is of the population given part time workers and the gig economy) Their supporters take great delight in waving their iphones around and exclaiming "oh, isin't that LAST YEARS model". (alternately, look at how rich I am)

        Now if you don't understand why this is perhaps somewhat short of being universally popular in a time when there are people who struggle to afford to put food on the table then I suggest that there is probably nothing whatsoever that anybody can say on the subject that is going to make you understand why Apple is not universally worshiped as befits the messiah of overpriced tat, but i'll try anyway.

        The above accounts for quite major one major source of opposition.

        A second group is techies who have been at this for so long that we were geeks and nerds when that wasn't cool, and instinctively deeply loathe people trying to exert social pressure to force us to do things we don't want to do and will do something else more or less instinctively.

        A third group looks at expensive kit that has perfectly adequate cheaper alternatives for a tiny fraction of the cost and wonders why any rational person would spend a huge price premium on buying it.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

          Pretty amazing how Apple has got to where it is, given that according to the massed ranks of El Reg Commentardery, everything they've ever done is (a) a shameless copy of some unsung hero company's work, (b) crap, (c) ridiculously overpriced and (d) would never be bought by anybody.

          I would give apple the credit that while yes, they did tend to take ideas others had made before, but they made their business giving those products polish and simplicity. They were good at taking a rough technology and giving it a finish. These days they make their money through hype, flashy products with less substance, and vendor lock-in.

    5. Stumpy

      Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

      I think the real argument there is that everyone else just copied the MacBook design philosophy since it looked so good compared to the competition. At the time, no-one else was producing a unibody aluminium shell.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Nowadays Macs don't look different than PCs

        Unfortunately, nowadays they are copying bad things too.

        A glass back on a smartphone is just horrible.

  8. macjules Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great article, thanks!

    One thing to mention about the iMac was that it was in stock, worldwide, from the moment that Jobs released it. I phoned up my reseller the next day and asked if they had any on order and was pleased to hear that they could ship immediately.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Great article, thanks!

      Yes, it came at a good financial time for us, and we picked one up a few days after it’s release.

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Remember when *everything* was translucent "Bondi Blue"?

    This sparked a really derivative fashion craze of slapping a semi-transparent faintly blue-tinged case on everything. I think it lasted about 9 or 10 months.

    I remember a nasty cheap USB hub or something, where the guts that were now on display were so shoddy that it persuaded me to *not* buy it. Great big gobs of mastic, capacitors at all sorts of weird angles, a transformer that looked only half soldered in, and other things not fit to see daylight.

    1. I am the liquor

      Re: Remember when *everything* was translucent "Bondi Blue"?

      I remember Iomega did a Zip drive with the innards on display through a blue transparent shell.

      1. Bob7300

        Re: Remember when *everything* was translucent "Bondi Blue"?

        Like this one?

        https://ibb.co/rbsWYjh

        https://ibb.co/JR1Zy0Y

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Remember when *everything* was translucent "Bondi Blue"?

          The horror. Yeah, I remember when every piece of tat going was available in translucent blue though never quite 'Bondi Blue' (because producing plastic parts to an exact colour is time consuming and thus expensive).

          There were some *transparent* devices around from the late 80s and early 90s (if not before) including the Sony Walkman WM 504 and Gravis Joystick limited edition.

          Jony Ive's first translucent Apple product was the eMate - a clamshell device that was a Newton with a keyboard, only sold to schools. Translucent dark green.

    2. myhandler

      Re: Remember when *everything* was translucent "Bondi Blue"?

      Yeah I had a modem in transparent blue plastic, it did 14,400 Baud and was for my Quadra 840.

      These iMacs came along a good few years after the funky SGI boxes. My Quadra was contemporary to those.

      Thanks Apple, but I went to Windows just after the iMacs arrived. Macs, even the big ones, were too slow for 3d rendering (plus the 3d software for Macs sucked).

  10. Barry Rueger

    So near, yet so far

    My wife, after years of battling Windows 10, bought an iMac this month. It is unquestionably a lovely machine, although we're baffled that there's no way to adjust bass and treble for sound output, making that lovely screen useless for watching BBC I-player.

    That sort of thing is why I eventually abandoned my G4 Powerbook: when you buy a Mac it's all or nothing. If Apple 's design choices don't meet your needs or tastes, too bad.

    Since then I've been very happy with Linux, which gives me complete control of every part of the computer environment.

    Although, to be honest, the only change that I made to a fresh Mint install this week was to disable Caps Lock.

    The Mac is beautiful, but unfortunately I can't work within its limitations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So near, yet so far

      You DO know this article isn't about the current Mac lineup?

      As much as we are interested in what you and yours use..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So near, yet so far

        Oh, looks like three people really DO want to hear about this guy's Linux fun and wife's machine and what his dog eats and the socks he has on and and and and

        I'm ignoring the down votes - I'm right, this fella is a bore. And it's fine if you think I am one too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So near, yet so far

          you're anonymous and a coward...

    2. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: So near, yet so far

      I think Boom does what you want. I've not tried but I came across it a while ago for some reason. Sucks that it's a paid thing but it's cheap. https://www.globaldelight.com/boom/

      1. Elsmarc

        Re: So near, yet so far

        I bought Boom in 2013. I do not have the up-to-date version but it has always worked very well and resolved my desire to have a system level equalizer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So near, yet so far

      I've looked through your post history - I'm glad you love your wife, Barry, but you mention her in almost every post you make!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So near, yet so far

        His wife was the link to the iMac, so it seems reasonable to me that she be included.

      2. Barry Rueger

        Re: So near, yet so far

        Every five years I buy a refurbished Dell laptop, install Mint, and it just goes forever. Susan on the other hand loves gear - especially now that her piano teaching has moved on-line - and loves asking tech to do more than was intended - two laptops, two webcams (one purchased the day before Amazon ran out) a Rode mic, an upgrade to faster fibre, and a plethora of cables, including ethernet because WIFI didn't deliver.

        I actually don't know where the iMac will fit in, but it is lovely hardware. My only involvement is oohing and ahing.

        I feel obliged to note that Susan is 74 years old and has no idea how tech savvy she us.

        And thanks to everyone for the EQ suggestions. A quick Google turned up nothing.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: So near, yet so far

          And thanks to everyone for the EQ suggestions

          If Susan isn't afraid of tech, personally I'd feed the sound into an external device and fiddle a few knobs. Either directly from the headphone socket or via a USB connection to an external interface or into a proper mixer with USB input:

          Tiny mixer, bigger mixer.

          M.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Re: was to disable Caps Lock.

      I set up Caps Lock as Compose and use both Shift, either cancels as Caps Lock as I'd only use it to simulate shouting.

      Seems the Mac fans are out in force today.

      I bought an Apple Computer once.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So near, yet so far

      > My wife, after years of battling Windows 10, bought an iMac this month. It is unquestionably a lovely machine, although we're baffled that there's no way to adjust bass and treble for sound output, making that lovely screen useless for watching BBC I-player.

      Yeah it's a bit shit that Apple expect the app's developer to provide the EQ capability. Use your free 90 days support to ring up and 'naively' ask how to do this. Say that you're slightly hearing impaired and ask how their approach is compatible with the Equality Act 2010? If they don't get feedback they'll never change.

      There's a free app (disclaimer: not tried it) - https://eqmac.app that you could try.

      1. Barry Rueger

        Re: So near, yet so far

        EQmac for the win! Thanks!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So near, yet so far

      check out the Mac application ONYX - it lets you override some of the more annoying OS X UI options.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: So near, yet so far

        Try https://community.spotify.com/t5/Desktop-Mac/Equalizer-for-Mac-Finally-a-solution/td-p/4374561

        You could also look at Sony's TV Demumbler

        https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-SRSLSR100-CE7-SRS-LSR100-Wireless-Speaker-White/dp/B0769K73PL/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1530367960&sr=8-1&keywords=SONY+SRSLSR100&linkCode=sl1&tag=techmoan-21&linkId=df269cc4087b385ee65342448d644a7c

        Though be aware that Macs won't work with Bluetooth speakers when watching Netflix... something to do with Silver light and DRM.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Bondi Blue!

    Yep, still have it, next to the others in the museum. I only need the G4 screen on a stick on a ball...

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Bondi Blue!

      G4 screen on a stick on a ball?

      It's half a ball if it's the one I tried to repair for someone. Why did they think that was a good idea?

    2. Yes, I are perfect

      Re: Bondi Blue!

      My ex has one of those (lamp mac) sitting unused in the outside veranda. Good condition but dusty. If you are in Australia (Adelaide) you can probably pick it up :)

    3. ifekas

      Re: Bondi Blue!

      Same here, I still have my Bondi Blue iMac. I did try switching it on last year, and it started booting, but the screen made worrying clicking noises, so I turned it off. I had actually sold it to a friend at some point, and many years later she asked whether I wanted it back for free! I thought the more translucent DV Special Edition was the best looking iMac of that vintage, though sadly I haven't got that anymore. I still have the half round iMac that still works, and a white Intel 20 inch (plain) one, and I currently use a 28 inch aluminium iMac, oh and the HK woofer and speakers. As you might have figured, I like them, though for work we have only Windows.

  12. Jay 2
    FAIL

    No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

    I used one of the original iMacs occasionally and my main (and pretty much only) bugbear was that fucking hockey puck mouse. It beggars belief that for all the design-led stuff of the iMac someone passed that abomination off as bit being fit for use. I found it horrible and quite painful to use for anything more then a few minutes. Quite ironically the Microsoft Mouse has pretty much tool the test of time for me. I've got a 10+ year old one attached to my iMac now (as I'm not a great fan of the Magic Mouse either).

    1. Nick Pettefar

      Re: No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

      I had several of the original iMacs. Very nice and a great sound from the Bose speakers. I picked one up on Freecycle! If I had another one I might Raspberry Pi it.

      Microsoft DO make good mice. (Not much else though.) The new portable one that clicks into an arch shape looks very interesting. The old little wedge one was great but only had vertical scroll of course. Apple I think wins the current Mice Wars with their Magic Mouse 2 (Dark version of course). I’m currently using one of them on my iPad.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

        The original iMac used Harmon Kardon branded speakers. A nice touch is that if you plugged in the iconic transparent Harmon Kardon bass woofer via USB it played the bass leaving the iMacs built in speakers to play the treble.

        The 20th Anniversary Mac came with a Bose subwoofer.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

        Microsoft Arch mouse was released in 2008, so not desperately new :)

        Logitech's MX series of mice (with darkfield laser sensors and free-spinning scroll wheels) are also superb, and they work well near any surface, including on glass.

    2. Wyrdness

      Re: No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

      Mices were the one thing that Apple could never get right. All Apple meece prior to the Magic Mouse were absolute crap. The Mighty Mouse was a big improvement over earlier Apple mouses but it had major reliability issues. I have to say that the Magic Mouse is one of my favourite micies of all time, and I've been using mousies ever since the Mouse Systems optical meeces on Sun workstations in the 80's.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

        So, basically, you are saying you hate those meeses to pieces?

    3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

      Yup, that hocky puck mouse was a complete failure.

      I recall that you could buy clip-on bits of plastic that turned them into useable shaped mice. Or just buy a useable mouse.

      But if you bought one of the clip-on adapters, it didn't cure the problem of them using a lightweight ball that just slid around once there was any dirt whatsoever on the rollers. It wasn't the first Apple mouse to suffer from that, and not the first for there to be an aftermarket in replacement balls that worked.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Hype

    "a product launch that would indelibly change the face of computing and arguably save the firm he founded almost 22 years earlier."

    MS bailed them out.

    The combination of iTunes and iPod saved Apple.

    The combination of large data usage and operator contracts with the iPhone made them rich.

    I've worked in the Computer industry since the 1980s. I've seen regular Macs, from the original 68000 with a 3.5" floppy to the pedestal model with OS 9 and later ones. I, nor any the computer people I know, ever used an original all in one iMac. I think I've only seen them in photos. They were actually very niche and any one I ever saw doing DTP, Graphic design etc used a more regular kind of Mac. I've only even seen Mac laptops in the last 12 years.

    The iMac was irrelevant to Computing.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Hype

      I suspect the main market by a huge margin was the USA and schools in particular.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hype

      The iMac was irrelevant to Computing.
      your comment says much more about you than the industry. my recollection was that the iMac, among other things:

      • killed the beige box as a design element

      • normalized internet access for millions

      • was ubiquitous in graphic design studios and internet cafes

      • provided a platform and launchpad for OS X

      • made apple relevant in the industry again, post-Steve Jobs' return.

      your myopia perspective may vary.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: your myopia perspective may vary.

        Maybe in the USA.

        I've never seen an Internet cafe that used Apple. All far cheaper PC clones. I've travelled in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Israel and the USA in the original iMac era. Loads of other European countries in the 21st C.

        Also it was ISPs and the creation of Web sites that boosted the Internet. A small proportion of Internet users outside of USA schools used ANY sort of Mac. Internet web usage had already boomed 3 to 4 years before the 1998 release of the iMac. Windows 98 already was selling well.

        The iMac for OSX only shared the name. There is also little relationship other than the GUI with earlier Mac OS. OS X came out in 2001 and by 2003 had a small market share compared to XP. Belatedly in 2006 the Mac including the iMac changed to the x86 instead of the Power PC. Originally the Mac had used the 68000 family.

        All the design studios and graphic printing places I knew used real Macs. Ones where you could choose the screen and have more I/O than a phone line two USB ports and

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Hype

      The All-in-one desktop including screen with almost no ports was originally the Amstrad PCW, though it was grey. You needed an add-on box for the serial port for a modem (1200/75 or 300 baud). No Websites then, though the Internet did exist. Included a rather slow DMP. A later version had an even slower daisywheel. No good for corporate work, but a cheap home office / writer solution.

      Also about 1/2 the price of a IBM XT (without a printer) and an IBM AT, or an Apricot Xen or a Apple Mac were for corporates or rich people, Not to bad with CP/M for Wordstar clone, Spreadsheet and email via dialup to an X.25 pad. I didn't much use Locoscript being familiar with CP/M from 1979.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amstrad_PCW

      Allegedly sold 8 Million.

      September 1985, the basic PCW model was priced at £399 plus value added tax, which included a printer, word processor program, the CP/M operating system and associated utilities, and a BASIC interpreter. Easy to put a double sided 720K 3.5" floppy as the second drive.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apricot_Computers#1980s

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Hype

        > I, nor any the computer people I know, ever used an original all in one iMac. I think I've only seen them in photos.

        Perhaps you might consider broadening your social circles? Some of my best friends are computery people, but so are artists, musicians, circus owners, lunatics, drunks, scientists and athletes. The parties are better.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Hype

        The iMac did serve a focus point for the floppy disc drive debate. Whether it actually hastened the demise of the floppy is debatable, but I suspect it contributed in a small part - Apple's 'Don't do it like that, do it like this' attitude can be a good thing, like ripping off a plaster instead of protracting the inevitable transition.

        Of course wider internet use, cheaper CDR drives, usb 2 and cheaper solid state storage (thumb drives) had a larger role in the floppy's death.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      "They were actually very niche"

      They were nice consumer devices for the era, or for desks where showing off was more important than using a computer. One was brought in in our office - but in those years we were moving from 15" monitors to 17" ones, and 19"-20" for some few lucky ones - so, really, an all-in-one with a 15" monitor looked old despite its design. Plus the mouse was horrible. It was used only to test our early web sites worked on Apple too. Soon the first gigabit switches made it even older without being able to update the NIC.

    5. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Hype

      >The iMac was irrelevant to Computing.

      It filled a niche which is now occupied by the tablet. The G3 was small, self-contained, made no noise when running (no fan), it was the perfect "Internet appliance".

      Not a computer, though.

  14. joeldillon

    Point of order (because I had one of these in my very first job out of university) - the iMac /originally/ came only in Bondi Blue, the other colours came out later.

  15. PTW
    Trollface

    We woz robbed

    in 1999, second floor office, and they used a ladder to come through the window, guess what they left behind? Yep, the only iMac we had!

  16. AuthFailed
    Pint

    Wot about the eMac?

    I would show you mine if I could post a pic.

    The beer because the sale of alcohol is banned under Lockdown Level 4 in RSA

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wot about the eMac?

      I'd forgotten about that. I remember the eMate which predated the iMac. Apple using a lower case letter followed by Sentence case word as a product name predating the iMac.

      Steve Jobs was originally resistant to the iMac name. Interesting that Apple would ressurect the e* naming convention for another eduction market-only product.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Wot about the eMac?

      The eMac came along later - after the original iMac, and the multi-coloured ones. Crystal white and 17" flat screen CRT - it's not long since my mum stopped using hers, I need to pick it up sometime.

  17. frankvw

    Reading the comments, I don't see the biggest advantage of the iMac: it had no floppy drive.

    Having been a sysadmin in education, I can reliably report that floppy drives in a classroom (and, to a lesser degree in a corporate environment) are a pain and serve no good purpose. They serve as an unmonitored point of ingress for pirated software and malware and potential egress of confidential information; they collect dust and other contaminants and are prone to failure.

    Then along came the iMac, which moved a lot of the work-station-based need for system administration to a network-central approach and, with a generic hard drive image, reduced the computer essentially to an appliance that could be swapped out for another one in case of problems. Sysadmins worldwide heaved sighs of relief.

  18. Dr_N Silver badge

    The last cool Apple computer.

    As hawked by Jeff Goldblum

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The last cool Apple computer.

      I think Mr Goldblum also hawked the G4 Cube, which was released a year or two later.

  19. TheRealRoland
    Thumb Up

    Grape for the win!

    Also got a G4 in the basement, with one of those processor add-on / expansion cards in it, and one of those monster CRTs... That was fun, moving house!

    Oh, and a Classic is hiding somewhere as well, probably propping up a stack of o'Reilly books :-)

  20. Dave 126 Silver badge

    To make streaming TV and movies more comprehensible to your ears, a simple EQ tweak might not be the best route.

    There may be software available that reduces the dynamic range of the audio, so that voices are loud but explosions aren't deafening.

    There may be software that uses cunning algorithms that make voices clearer, such as the Dolby Atmos-branded audio settings on Samsung phones.

    Extracting the centre audio channels from the stream.

  21. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    floppy and no slots

    We had one of these in our multimedia lab at IBM when it first came out (we were testing the web view of our product at the time). Right off we found it was nearly unusable in our environment. Our lab was token-ring only, it was weeks before we got a phone jack we could use with the modem, and the lack of a floppy meant we couldn't even test our generated HTML & MVR files off of a floppy disk. A year or so later we eventually got an ethernet connection, but for a while it was a fancy but not entirely useful toy.

    And eventually we got a replacement for that abominable "Babybel Cheese Mouse" the machine came with.

    Years later I got a rev.D version of the iMac for real cheap at a tag sale (lost it in a house fire though).

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: floppy and no slots

      Hang on a minute, you are criticising the iMac for being limited - because you were in an IBM shop with that "used by no-one outside of IBM" token ring stuff that used incredibly thick cables, very bulky connectors*, and required eye-wateringly expensive switches to connect anything to it.

      * Though to be fair, I've long looked at those and thought (usually after being presented with yet another broken something) ... if only others considered durability and robustness as a positive feature.

      Also, yes I'm aware of the superiority of token ring in many ways. But the market spoke, and like V2000 vs Betamax vs VHS chose the technically inferior option.

  22. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge

    I would have liked...

    I would have liked to have the underpinnings of Mac OS X (unix) combined with the Mac OS Classic desktop. In my opinion OS X made it fast, reliable, robust, and ugly.

  23. TRT Silver badge

    There were two bad features on the iMac.

    1 was the Puck mouse.

    2 was the see through material the mains leads were covered in. It crept out of the socket due to thermal cycling eventually dropping out right in the middle o...

  24. adfh
    FAIL

    Don't forget...

    ... the absolutely horrible hockey puck mouse, and the USB ports and cables for keyboard with the bloody notch in them!

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Don't forget...

      Oh yes, the notch. I'd forgotten that. Even when third party USB devices did come out you needed a blasted adapter because standard USB plugs wouldn't fit into Apple's notched sockets. Talk about lock-in!

      M.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Don't forget...

        No, I think it was the other way around. Standard USB plugs would fit in the sockets, but Apple's cables wouldn't fit into standard sockets. If I could be bothered, I'd pull out the box of random bits and look into this - I know I still have at least one Apple USB extension lead.

        I think Apple's stated reason was to prevent keyboard problems from people using cheap and inferior USB cables that didn't transmit the power adequately. Hmm, don't they still use the same arguments for using "standard but not quite standard" stuff and charging extra for cables.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imac was important

    1 it had a reasonable graphics engine

    2 risc processor was better than pc equivalent

    3 the puck mouse was rubbish granted

    4 it shipped with QuickTime which for media creatives was a game changer. Online video worked. I think they trailed the Star Wars film at the time, phantom menace?

    5 it had usb as opposed to the old Mac adb interface for keyboards etc

    I had a beige g3 which was a dog

    SGI 02 was a nice designed machine with a great OS for video work but it was so expensive!

    The iMac changed the industry. Unfortunately Apple also screwed by buying up shake and destroying it.

  26. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Vintage internet humour

      If only I could upvote you more than once for that link

  27. Ian Joyner

    I was there

    I remember the Bondi Blue iMac being put on display in a roped-off area so you could see it and not touch it.

    I shared my room with a teacher from a school (Apple Australia asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing) who was worried about dropping the 3.5” drive. Well, he pulled this trick of asking me to settle the hotel bill and he’d fix me up later. He did not before we left, and after six months of emails, I gave up. I hope he is ashamed if he is reading this!

    In 2000 Apple paid for the room and I had it to myself, whereas others shared because Apple was paying.

  28. reubs007

    Apple's saviour

    It's important to remember what a mess Apple was in before Jobs' return. I had one of the last beige Power Macs. Indistinguishable from every other piece of beige kit out there. This was also the era of licensed Mac clones. Dreadful. Love or hate Apple, the iMac was a consumer product everyone wanted and you saw it everywhere. Gotta love Steve lauding the 33.6kbps built-in modem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple's saviour

      the worst thing about those beige power macs was the physical scarring you'd receive when working on them.

      there were so many sharp metal edges and pointy metal parts - i remember bloodied hands and knuckles every time I went to replace a hard drive, DIMM strip or CD ROM.

      their solution: unservicibility!

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