Mac Performa 638CD Mac Performa 638CD

Macintosh Performa 638CD Explained

In the ever-evolving world of technology, it’s essential to appreciate the pioneers that laid the foundation for the advanced devices we enjoy today. Among those pioneers, the Macintosh Performa 638CD stands as one of Apple’s significant early forays into the personal computer market. Released in 1994, this innovative machine left a lasting impact on the industry and played a crucial role in shaping the future of consumer computing.

When it hit the market on July 18, 1994, the Performa 638CD came with a starting price of $2,300. While this may seem hefty by today’s standards, it was a reasonable cost for a computer that boasted advanced specs during its time. The heart of the 638CD was powered by a 33 MHz Motorola 68LC040 processor, accompanied by 8 MB of RAM, a 350 MB hard drive, a 2x CD-ROM drive, and a 1.44 MB floppy drive. While these specifications may seem modest today, they were more than capable of handling the everyday computing tasks of that era.

Regrettably, the journey of the Performa 638CD was cut short, and it was discontinued just one year after its initial release, on July 1, 1995. Nevertheless, even with its relatively short lifespan, the Macintosh Performa 638CD remains an integral part of Apple’s history. It marked one of the company’s earliest attempts to offer consumers a powerful yet affordable computer, ultimately setting the stage for many of the potent and capable computers that we rely on today.

What set the Performa 638CD apart was its resemblance to the Performa 637CD, except for one crucial distinction – the 638CD came equipped with TV and video input/output cards, sans a monitor. This allowed users to explore multimedia capabilities, an exciting concept during those early days of computing.

The educational and business versions of the Performa 638CD were the LC 630 series and the Quadra 630, respectively. This diversity in offerings showcased Apple’s intent to cater to various user segments and expand the reach of its products.

One noteworthy aspect of this machine was its utilization of the Motorola 68000-family chip, destined to be among the last models ever designed around it. The 33MHz ‘040 processor at its core and its close ties with the Quadra 630 made the Performa 638CD an attractive choice for consumers seeking both performance and affordability.

The machine’s design boasted four slots, each accommodating different types of expansions. These included an LC-style PDS, a communications slot for ethernet or fax/modem cards, a video slot for a TV input card (included with this model), and a TV tuner card (also included). While the machine did have some limitations, such as having only one SIMM socket for memory expansion, one keyboard/mouse jack, and a non-expandable 1MB of video RAM, these trade-offs were necessary to keep the cost low.

Despite the limitations, the Performa 638CD offered tremendous value with its attractive price point, impressive speed, a CD-ROM drive, monitor, keyboard, mouse, modem, and a wealth of bundled software. It truly encapsulated the spirit of innovation and democratizing access to technology.

What’s even more intriguing is the possibility of upgrading this machine to a PowerPC chip. With a $599.00 upgrade, users could experience the enhanced performance of PowerPC, and the logic board could be upgraded to a 6200 series PowerPC for $699.00. These options provided longevity and future-proofing to the initial investment, making the Performa 638CD an even more enticing prospect.

The Macintosh Performa 638CD may be 29 years old today, but it’s a fascinating artifact that takes us back to the early days of personal computing. It symbolizes Apple’s determination to push boundaries and deliver accessible yet powerful computers to the masses. Whether you’re a passionate Apple enthusiast or a history buff fascinated by the evolution of technology, the Performa 638CD undoubtedly deserves a spot in your digital time capsule.

Macintosh Performa 638CD
Source: – Macintosh Performa 638CD

Macintosh Performa 638CD Details

IntroducedJuly 18, 1994
DiscontinuedJuly 1, 1995
Model Identifier98
Model NumberM3076
Order NumberM3599LL/A
Original Price$2,300
Weight19 Ibs.
8.618 KG
Dimensions4.3” H x 12.6” W x 16.5” D
10.92 cm H x 32 cm W x 41.91 cm D

Mac Performa 638CD Tech Specs


ProcessorMotorola 68LC040
Processor Speed33 MHz
Number of Cores1
System Bus33 MHz
Cache8 KB L1

Storage & Media

Storage350 MB
Media1 – 1.44 MB Floppy
1 – 2x CD-ROM (Optional)


Built-in Memory8 MB
Maximum Memory36 MB
Memory Slots1 – 72 pin SIMM
Minimum Speed80 ns
Interleaving SupportNo


Built-in DisplayNone


Graphics CardNone
Graphics Memory1 MB
Display Connection1 – DB-15


Expansion Slots1 – LC PDS
1 – Comm
1 – TV
1 – Video in
Hard Drive InterfaceIDE


Modem14.4k (external)
SCSI1 – DB-25
Floppy PortNone
Audio In1 – 3.5-mm analog input jack (8-bit mono)
Audio Out1 – 3.5-mm analog output jack (8-bit stereo)
1 – Built-in speaker
Display1 – DB-15


Original OSSystem Software 7.1.2P
Maximum OSMac OS 8.1
FirmwareMacintosh ROM


Backup Battery4.5 V Alkaline
Maximum Continuous Power45 W
Line VoltageUnknown

Further Reading and References

Disclaimer: The data presented in this article is under continuous development and has been manually collected from various sources based on their availability. The author of this article may revise this dataset as additional research is conducted and reviewed. Please note that the information is provided “as is” and “as available” without express or implied warranties. The author cannot be held responsible for any omissions, inaccuracies, or errors in the published information. Any warranties relating to this information are hereby disclaimed.

Last updated: August 3, 2023