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In the fast-paced world of technology, where innovations become obsolete at the speed of light, it’s easy to forget the groundbreaking devices that once ruled the roost. One such relic of a bygone era is the Power Macintosh 5400, a computer that hit the market on April 13th, 1996, and etched its name into Apple’s storied history.
Back in 1996, when the internet was in its infancy and dial-up connections ruled the day, Apple unveiled the Power Macintosh 5400. Part of the illustrious Power Macintosh series, this personal computer was a technological marvel for its time.
With a robust 120 MHz / 180 MHz or 200 MHz PowerPC 603e processor, a vivid 15″ Color CRT display, and an array of storage options ranging from 1.2 GB to 1.6 GB, the 5400 was a powerhouse. It boasted a 4x CD-ROM or 8x CD-ROM drive, a 1.44 MB floppy drive, and 16 MB or 24 MB of RAM – specifications that made it a titan in the 90s computing landscape.
But, as they say, innovation comes at a price. The starting cost of $1,500 was substantial, yet for Apple aficionados, it was a price worth paying. The 5400 garnered significant attention and praise for its remarkable processing speed, capacious hard drive, and display that was the envy of its competitors.
As with all tech revolutions, the Power Macintosh 5400’s reign was destined to be brief. On March 31, 1998, Apple officially discontinued this iconic computer. However, its legacy endures, serving as a nostalgic reminder of Apple’s pioneering role in personal computing technology.
Digging deeper into the 5400, we find that the Performa 5400 models were all-in-one desktop Macintosh systems featuring a built-in 15″ shadow mask display. The 1 MB of VRAM supported up to 8-bit color at a resolution of 832 x 624 pixels and 16-bit color at 640 x 480 pixels, a technological feat at the time.
The “Alchemy” logic board, the heart of this machine, supported faster PowerPC 603e processors. It allowed RAM upgrades from the base 8 MB, soldered onto the motherboard, to a maximum of 136 MB. With expansion slots including a PCI slot, a Comm Slot II for an internal modem or Ethernet card, and a video-in slot for an Apple TV Tuner Card, the 5400 was surprisingly versatile.
The Performa 5400 came with Mac OS 7.5.3 pre-installed, complemented by System Enabler 410, and a bundle of home software. It eventually bid adieu with Mac OS 9.1, marking the end of an era in Apple’s software evolution.
Interestingly, the Performa 5400 was predominantly sold in North America’s education market. Its consumer cousin, the Performa 5400CD, saw a more widespread release across the globe. Some configurations even included pre-installed TV/FM radio and/or video input/output cards, showcasing Apple’s innovative spirit even in the 90s.
The Power Macintosh 5400 may have faded into the annals of history, but its impact on the computer industry and its place in Apple’s heritage are undeniable. It was a machine that pushed the boundaries of technology during its time, captivating users with its raw power and cutting-edge features.
As we look back on this 27-year-old relic, we are reminded of the incredible journey Apple has undertaken, from the Power Macintosh 5400 to the sleek marvels of today. While the 5400 may have been discontinued, its memory lives on, and for those who experienced its heyday, it remains an indelible part of the Apple story.
Power Macintosh 5400 Details
|Introduced||April 13, 1996 (120 MHz)|
February 17, 1997 (180 MHz & 200 MHz)
|Discontinued||February 17, 1997 (120 MHz)|
March 31, 1998 (180 MHz & 200 MHz)
|Dimensions||17.5” H x 15.1” W x 16” D|
44.45 cm H x 38.35 cm W x 40.64 cm D
Power Mac 5400 Tech Specs
|Processor Speed||120 MHz|
|Number of Cores||1|
|System Bus||40 MHz|
|Cache||32 KB L1|
256 KB L2
Storage & Media
|Media||1 – 1.44 MB Floppy|
1 – 4x CD-ROM or 8x CD-ROM
|Built-in Memory||16 MB|
|Maximum Memory||64 MB|
|Memory Slots||2 – 72 pin SIMM|
|Minimum Speed||80 ns|
|Built-in Display||15″ Shadow Mask RGB CRT display|
|Resolution||640×480 at 16-bit|
800×600 at 8-bit
832×624 at 8-bit
|Graphics Memory||1 MB|
|Display Connection||1 – DB-15 (Optional)|
|Expansion Slots||1 – LC PDS (Cache Bus)|
1 – Comm. Slot
1 – Video I/O
1 – TV Tuner
|Hard Drive Interface||IDE|
|SCSI||1 – DB-25|
|Audio In||1 – 3.5-mm analog input jack|
1 – Built-in microphone
|Audio Out||2 – 3.5-mm analog output jack|
2 – Built-in speaker
|Display||1 – DB-15 (Optional)|
|Original OS||System Software 7.5.3|
|Maximum OS||Mac OS 9.1|
|Backup Battery||4.5 V Alkaline|
|Maximum Continuous Power||125 W|
|Line Voltage||100-240 V|
Further Reading and References
- Power Macintosh 5400/120: Technical Specifications – Apple Support
- Power Macintosh 5400/180: Technical Specifications – Apple Support
- Power Macintosh 5400/200: Technical Specifications – Apple Support
- Power Macintosh 5400 – Wikipedia
- The Underrated Power Mac 5400 – Low End Mac
- Power Macintosh 5400 – IT History Society
- Power Macintosh/Performa 5000 Series Service Source (PDF) – Apple Repair Manuals
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: September 3, 2023