iMac iMac

Original iMac Explained

In the ever-evolving landscape of personal computing, one product stands out as a game-changer – Apple’s Original iMac. Released in 1998, this groundbreaking computer not only marked a significant shift in design philosophy but also played a pivotal role in reshaping the way people perceived and interacted with personal computers.

The Original iMac was introduced as the iMac (also known as iMac G3) and emerged as a beacon of innovation during a critical period for Apple. Under the visionary leadership of CEO Steve Jobs, who had recently returned to the company, Apple sought to redefine its product line. The iMac was conceived as a consumer-oriented desktop computer, aiming to provide an affordable, internet-ready solution.

At the core of the iMac’s allure was its all-in-one design, featuring a cathode-ray tube display that housed the G3 processor, components, and connectivity in a single enclosure. Spearheaded by Apple’s design guru Jony Ive and his team, the iMac boasted a teardrop-shaped, translucent plastic case – a departure from the conventional aesthetics of the time.

The design overhaul was not merely cosmetic; it symbolized a shift towards embracing new technologies. Legacy ports like serial ports and floppy disk drives were replaced with CD-ROMs and USB ports, aligning the iMac with the emerging digital era.

The Original iMac G3 made its grand entrance on May 6, 1998, in a product launch reminiscent of the iconic 1984 Macintosh unveiling. Steve Jobs, with founding members and the original Macintosh team in attendance, revealed the iMac from beneath a tablecloth. The computer greeted the world with a simple “Hello (again),” a nod to the Macintosh’s whimsical introduction.

Shipping commenced on August 15, 1998, accompanied by a $100 million advertising campaign that emphasized the iMac’s user-friendly interface, internet connectivity, and distinctive design. Actor Jeff Goldblum lent his voice to TV ads, challenging the industry’s status quo with the rhetorical question of whether computer companies had been in “thinking jail.”

Promotions included midnight launch events, radio giveaways, and golden tickets hidden in select iMacs, offering lucky winners a tour of an Apple factory. The marketing blitz, coupled with the product’s unique appeal, catapulted the iMac to immediate success.

Under the hood, the first iMac G3 boasted a 233 MHz PowerPC 750 G3 processor, a 15-inch CRT Display, 32 MB of RAM, a 4 GB hard drive, and a 24x CD-ROM tray-loading drive. The base model featured 2 MB ATI Rage IIc graphics. Its innovative design, coupled with impressive performance and user-friendly software, positioned the iMac as a frontrunner in the personal computing arena.

Despite its technological prowess, critical responses to the iMac were mixed. Some lauded its innovation, ease of use, and consumer-friendly approach, while others criticized the exclusion of legacy ports and the discomfort associated with the mouse and keyboard. Tech reviewers expressed skepticism, with some foreseeing doom for the iMac.

Yet, the iMac defied the odds. Consumers embraced it wholeheartedly, with 278,000 units sold in the first six weeks and a staggering 800,000 units after 20 weeks. The iMac claimed the top-selling desktop computer title in US stores for its first three months, marking a significant turnaround for Apple, which had experienced financial struggles in the years prior.

The iMac G3 received accolades, winning design competitions and awards such as Gold at the 1999 D&AD Design Awards in the UK and “Object of the Year” by The Face. Museums, including The Henry Ford, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, proudly display iMac G3 models in their collections.

As a testament to its enduring legacy, the iMac continued to be a strong seller, contributing to Apple’s return to profitability. However, on January 5, 1999, the Original iMac bid farewell, making way for the iMac Early 1999.

Today, the Original iMac remains a coveted collector’s item, cherished by enthusiasts and nostalgia buffs alike. Its iconic design, coupled with its pivotal role in Apple’s resurgence, ensures its place in the annals of computing history. Whether you’re a collector seeking a piece of technological history or simply a fan of innovative design, the Original iMac stands as a timeless classic that deserves to be remembered and appreciated even after 25 years.

Original iMac G3
Source: macwelt.de – Original iMac G3

The First iMac Presentation

Original iMac Details

IntroducedMay 6, 1998
ReleasedAugust 15, 1998 (Revision A)
October 26, 1998 (Revision B)
DiscontinuedJanuary 5, 1999
Model IdentifieriMac,1
Model NumberM4984
Order NumberM6709LL/A
M6709LL/B
Original Price$1,299
ColorsBlueberry
Weight40 Ibs.
18.143 KG
Dimensions15.8” H x 15.2” W x 17.6” D
40.13 cm H x 38.6 cm W x 44.7 cm D

iMac G3 Tech Specs

Processor

ProcessorPowerPC 750 G3
Processor Speed233 MHz
Architecture32-bit
Number of Cores1
System Bus66 MHz
Cache64 KB L1
512 KB backside L2
CoprocessorBuilt-in FPU

Storage & Media

Storage4 GB
Media1 – Tray-loading 24x CD-ROM

Memory

Built-in Memory32 MB
Maximum Memory128 MB (Apple – Revision A)
384 MB (Actual – Revision A)
256 MB (Apple – Revision B)
512 MB (Actual – Revision B)
Memory Slots2 – PC66 144-pin SO-DIMM
Minimum Speed10 ns
ROM4 MB
Interleaving SupportNo

Display

Built-in Display15″ Shadow-mask CRT Display (13.8″ viewable)
Resolutions640 x 480
800 x 600
1024 x 768

Graphics

Graphics CardATI Rage IIc (Revision A)
ATI Rage Pro (Revision B)
Graphics Memory2 MB (Upgradable to 6 MB – Revision A)
6 MB (Revision B)
Display ConnectionInternal DB-15 connection for built-in display
Display ModesNone
External ResolutionN/A
CameraNone

Expansion

Expansion Slots1 – Mezzanine
Optical Drive InterfaceATA-3 (Shared with hard disk drive)
Hard Drive InterfaceATA-3 (Shared with optical drive)

Connections

Ethernet10/100BASE-T (RJ-45)
Modem33.6k or 56k
Wi-FiNone
BluetoothNone
USB2 – 12 Mbps
Infrared1 – 4 Mbps (Revision A)
Audio In1 – 3.5-mm analog input jack
1 – Built-in microphone
Audio Out1 – 3.5-mm analog output jack
2 – Built-in speakers
DisplayInternal DB-15 connection for built-in display

Software

Original OSMac OS 8.1 (Revision A)
Mac OS 8.5 (Revision B)
Later OSMac OS 8.6 (Revision B)
Maximum OSMac OS X 10.3.9
FirmwareMacintosh ROM
Bundled SoftwareN/A

Keyboard and Mouse

PeripheralsApple USB Keyboard
Apple USB Mouse

Power

Backup Battery3.6 V Lithium
Maximum Continuous Power80 W
Line Voltage100-240 V AC

Further Reading and References

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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: January 7, 2024