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May 6, 2008 10:05 AM   Subscribe

The iMac turns ten today. Unveiled on May 6, 1998 by a button-down Steve Jobs, the iMac personal computer was Steve Jobs' antidote to the countless boring beige models in Apple's product line. Offering "three easy steps to the Internet," the iMac proved to be a lightning rod for criticism (small "hockey puck" mouse, no floppy drive, no SCSI, the debut of USB, toy keyboard, no expansion possibilities), the first Bondi Blue iMac got people talking and sold by the truckload. Although the design may look a bit dated today, the candy-colored plastics influenced consumer product design for the next several years. Even if you don't enjoy using an iMac, there's no denying its contributions to computing and popular culture.
posted by porn in the woods (72 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
The old iMac may be the only 3rd/4th generation old computer that is still very useful. I've got one running a shared printer in my basement (also used as backup internet access), I've got a bunch in my agency used for a variety of reasons.. most of them are running OS X with no problems at all...

Great little computer!

but, if anyone wants them, I'll trade them all for an AirBook! :)
posted by HuronBob at 10:08 AM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


> the candy-colored plastics influenced consumer product design for the next several years.

They still do. Although most of the candy-colored translucent product design I'm seeing these days is in K-Mart and dollar stores, which is probably where the current fashion for ivory white and piano black will go to die a half-dozen years or so from now.
posted by ardgedee at 10:10 AM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Even if you don't enjoy using an iMac, there's no denying its contributions to computing and popular culture.

*snort*
posted by cortex at 10:11 AM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I got an iMac shortly after they came out; it was my first Mac (much to my husband's delight). Her name was HRH Miffy II. (I'd reserved "HRH Miffy" for when I would get a yellow New Beetle, which I got in '02.) I taped the State Quarters around her screen as I got them.

That was ten years ago? Sigh.
posted by Lucinda at 10:15 AM on May 6, 2008


man, I have hated those first imacs from the very first moment I'd heard about them. the tiny mouse, the stupid colors, the total lack of upgradeability and the virtually nonexistent 3d hardware meant that macs would continue to be gameless for years to come.

But when they came out I was a freshman in college and that teeny tiny price tag made them way more appealing not that I could even afford to buy them.
posted by shmegegge at 10:15 AM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh man, that was 10 years ago? I can feel myself getting older as the 90s start to feel like they were a long time ago. I remember when my high school replaced all the LC IIIs in the publications department with these iMacs and then added one G3 tower especially for me--the graphic designer at the time. We got to choose network names for all of them. Mine was Vonnegut. Geeky as this all sounds, it was a major event for us. These were the hippest machines in the building.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:16 AM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


1999: "The one thing Apple's providing now is leadership in colors. It won't take long for us to catch up with that, I don't think." -- Bill Gates

2006: Zune. Brown.
posted by mazola at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2008 [43 favorites]


A lot of newsrooms looked very, very science fiction in the late 90's, with row upon row of curvy blue 'boxes'.
posted by rokusan at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2008


The guys at my local Mac shop let me check out an iMac the day before release; I was blown away by how much snappier it was than my G3-upgraded Power Mac 7500.

Someone gave me an original Bondi Blue years ago and I managed to kill the damn thing doing a hard drive swap. I still think that the Sunflower G4 was probably the best iMac design.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:20 AM on May 6, 2008


A lot of newsrooms looked very, very science fiction in the late 90's, with row upon row of curvy blue 'boxes'.

As someone who was just being introduced to the newsroom at this time, this statement is so, so true.
posted by tiger yang at 10:22 AM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I deny its contributions to computing and popular culture.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 10:29 AM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine had a blue iMac for many years. I was, at the time, using a Compaq laptop with a barely-functioning touchpad, and still found the keyboard and puck mouse almost impossible to use. And MacOS 9 was rubbish.

Of course, now I use a first-gen Intel iMac, which I really love. In the totally creepy port-stuffing kind of way. The Mighty Mouse, though, was only a slight improvement over the puck; what a poorly-executed idea.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:31 AM on May 6, 2008


When the iMac shipped, it was a rather desperate move by Apple. They weren't in good shape at the time, and the iMac was the first iteration of the computer-as-appliance metaphor. Like many major paradigm shifts, it was derided by virtually everyone in the existing market, but Apple used it to make a new market entirely. It's been a wildly successful one for Apple; virtually all of their desktops are still built around that same idea. It's a small piece of the overall market, but seems to be growing, and Apple tends to have rabidly loyal customers.

More recently, you can see a similar effect with the Wii; all the existing players savaged it, but Nintendo ignored them and created a huge new market. (If they'd had the manufacturing capability, they'd probably have outsold the 360 6 to 1.) Sometimes, companies change the game entirely, and the people playing the old game just hate that.

I also believe that it was the iMac that got USB, finally, to critical mass. Windows didn't natively support USB until the SE version of Win98. Almost all PCs had come with USB for a couple of years, but there wasn't a lot of consumer interest in it, and progress had gone essentially nowhere. Suddenly, there was a small but significant demand for USB stuff, enough to get the avalanche started. iMac demand drove supply, supply begat Windows drivers, and Windows drivers exponentially increased demand.

I also find it interesting that PCs didn't get truly and completely married to USB keyboards until just a couple of years ago; for the longest time, USB support was very spotty in the BIOS (before the OS loads) and you needed a PS2-style keyboard around for troubleshooting. My last two motherboards have finally gotten USB support truly correct, but it's mildly amusing that 10 years after USB started to get popular, you'll STILL find few PCs without PS2 ports.
posted by Malor at 10:33 AM on May 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


There's a Mac store a few blocks away from here, and not a week goes by that they don't have one or two tangerine or teal monstrosities out on the curb. The go pretty nicely with the orange and blue bags of refuse.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:36 AM on May 6, 2008


*They* go...
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 AM on May 6, 2008


I'll always have a soft spot for those iMacs: it was the first computer I bought myself, and the first from which I could get online at home. (I wish I'd never sold it, really, but the current owner is still very happy with it and emails me to say so from time to time, so at least i know it's not languishing in a cupboard.)

I remember when my high school replaced all the LC IIIs in the publications department with these iMacs and then added one G3 tower especially for me

Crazy, your high school had more money to spend on their publications dept. than Glasgow University could spare on theirs back then.
posted by jack_mo at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2008


Malor: about USB, I was unlucky enough to be doing network installs at my alma mater in the fall of 2000. This was before XP came out, but just as USB devices on PCs were starting to become common. You may remember that Windows ME was, to put it politely, a steaming pile. Our network still relied on IPX/SPX for a few things, and ME completely borked it. To the point that our solution for many new PCs that wouldn't connect was to install Windows 98 from our help desk "rescue" CD.

Unfortunately, our disks weren't 98SE. You can see where this might present problems. "Well, you can connect your USB printer, but you can't connect to the network. Or you can connect to the network, but your printer won't work."

USB is pretty great, though, and I think you're right that we have the iMac to thank for its eventual acceptance in the general market.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2008


fuck, I'm old
posted by matteo at 10:49 AM on May 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Malor, the difference between the Wii and Apple...

The Wii still sucks...

: )
posted by lyam at 10:49 AM on May 6, 2008


Crazy, your high school had more money to spend on their publications dept. than Glasgow University could spare on theirs back then.

It was a private school and I think our newspaper ad sales paid for part of it.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:51 AM on May 6, 2008


In one of our Mac labs at school, someone hooked up one of those evil round mouses to one of the computers. Even if the entire lab is busy, that computer remains empty. I freaking hate that mouse.
posted by riane at 10:52 AM on May 6, 2008



A lot of newsrooms looked very, very science fiction in the late 90's, with row upon row of curvy blue 'boxes'.

Late 90s nothing. Ours still is full of them. Only now it looks like the masoleum it is.

I love the puck mouse, though. The one with the dimple
posted by bonaldi at 10:54 AM on May 6, 2008


I worked as a university computer consultant and we bought SO many of the Bondi Blues.

People were PISSED:
- where's the floppy drive? (We ended up buying external super drives which worked with floppies and "super discs.")
- how do I reboot this thing? (Pull the cord out.)

There was even an article in the student newspaper about it.

In about 1.5 years they became "e-mail stations" and were replaced with the first blue G3s.
posted by k8t at 11:02 AM on May 6, 2008


We've got three of the bubble gum iMacs at home (as well as a prior gen 17" MacIntel); an original Bondi Blue running 10.3.9 (no airport but gets its wireless via a USB stick), a Sage iMac 350 and a Summer 2000 iMac DV+.

Some idiots blinked the power a few times in a row across East London maybe one month ago, and the The DV+ didn't reboot the second time around. So that's down and probably won't be coming back, but I swapped the hard drive into the iMac 350 and its running 10.4 fine.

All iMacs in the flat are on our wireless LAN, and we've got them distributed across Lounge (MacIntel), Kitchen (iMac 350) and second upstairs bedroom (original Bondi Blue). All iMacs are used constantly for finance news, market quotes and IM.

Very, very serviceable boxes. You can usually grab an iMac on eBay for less than 25 quid, sometimes with an Airport card, but always working and almost always "pick up only" (I'm shopping for a replacement for the DV+ at the moment). I've got enough keyboards and mice about that we don't have to put up with the hockey puck mouse, so that's fine.

Another neat class of Mac are the original iBooks. Again, the clamshells are going for less than one hundred quid on eBay, and as they live on our wireless LAN, they make nice terminals for streaming audio off the MacIntel (I've added a set of Apple Pro USB speakers) or checking up on finance news / portfolio performance.

Mrs Mutant & I both live on our MacBooks, but I suspect that we'll still have one or more of the original iMacs kicking about the flat long after we've sent our notebook computers off to visit Mr eBay.

Just can't beat the utility to price ratio of the iMacs. Totally amazing, even if they won't run 10.5 (without a processor upgrade, but that's cheating).
posted by Mutant at 11:07 AM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I only used a hockey puck mouse once, and I thought it was the best mouse I had used. Since it had a little divot where your fingers go on the button, it seemed ridiculous that people were complaining that you couldn't tell which direction it was pointing. (I've since seen pictures of other puck mice that don't seem to have that essential divot.) It was a good size, had a nice heft so that the force of the cord couldn't move it, and wasn't always getting in the way of your palm. I think there's nothing worse than huge bulky mice that want you to serve as a rest for your palm, as it forces movement of the entire arm and eliminates fine motor control. That moment served as a revelation that caused the scales to fall from my eyes and force me reevaluate Macs based on first hand experience rather than the reams of misinformed diatribes.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:08 AM on May 6, 2008


Suddenly, there was a small but significant demand for USB stuff, enough to get the avalanche started.

*note: This is because 3rd party usb peripheral devices were the only way to get 1st gen imacs to do anything.
posted by shmegegge at 11:11 AM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's hard to remember now just how big of a turning point the iMac was for Apple. Before it came out, Apple was still making boring beige boxes, the impact of Steve Jobs' return hadn't really been seen yet, and calling the company "beleaguered" was so common it was a cliche.

The introduction of the iMac marked the reincarnation of the Apple we know today. The total secrecy before the carefully stage-managed keynote announcement, the media frenzy, the futuristic minimalist design, the glossy clear plastic covering a white subsurface, the "i" prefix, the embrace of next-generation standards coupled with the omission of industry-standard features deemed unnecessary by Steve Jobs, the pinstripes and "lickable" blue which would become the basis for Mac OS X… everything Apple has done since can be directly traced back to the archetype established a decade ago today.

Happy birthday, iMac. Take a vacation someplace nice. You deserve it.
posted by designbot at 11:18 AM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


iMacs may not have been expandable, but they were great for reconfiguring.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:20 AM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've owned three iMacs - a 300Mhz G3 pre-OSX, a flat-panel G5 and then a first-generation Core Duo Intel flat-panel model. Great machines, although I finally "upgraded" to a Core2Duo Mac Mini with a separate monitor a couple of months ago and sold the CoreDuo iMac to a friend.

The only real problem with the G5 and Intel flat-panel models was that Apple wants $800 to replace the screen for non-covered-by-warranty damage/problems while Dell would sell you a standalone monitor that used the EXACT SAME LCD PANEL for $350-400.

Oh, and the G5 midplane recall/replacement (bad capacitors) and the unannounced-but-related power supply recall. And the flaky SuperDrives that will only burn media at half the supported speed.

Even with the little problems (almost always rectified by Apple) I love the machines. I'm in the process of rebuilding a Blue & White G3 tower into a "FrankenMac" G4 right now that will dual-boot OS9.2 through 10.4.
posted by mrbill at 11:21 AM on May 6, 2008


More recently, you can see a similar effect with the Wii

What? It's been my overwhelming impression that aside from the rabid fanboy contingent, gamers love the Wii. I certainly do, and if I had more time and a good, local gamer crew I'd own one.

Macs, i or otherwise...feh.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:25 AM on May 6, 2008


riane: I freaking hate that mouse.

Would you go so far as to say you hate those meeces to pieces?
posted by evilcolonel at 11:31 AM on May 6, 2008


I still have the magazine pullout ad for the original iMac. I wanted one right away, but I had to wait. I finally bought a refurb Rev. B from Apple. 4 gig hard drive, 32 megs of RAM. That thing worked like a charm. I did tons of web and graphic design for clients. I would often have GoLive, Word, IE, and PS Elements all running at once in that paltry amount of RAM.

After two years I had to swap in a 10 gig hard drive, and then I used it another year before finally getting a Powerbook. I passed the iMac on to my sister, who used it until just about 6 months ago. The hard drive died, and I couldn't get the replacement drive to work. I'm sure it would keep going if I had the time to put into figuring out the drive issues, but it just wasn't worth it. My Powerbook went home with my sister when the MacBook came.

Incredibly reliable machine that little iMac. I definitely got my monry's worth out of it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:39 AM on May 6, 2008


Wait, is this the thread where we all talk about what was in our HS Computer Labs? Because I want to give a shout out to not only the Apple //'s that the nerds got to program Pascal on, but the TRS-80's (can't remember which Model iteration) that the hoi polloi learned Logo on.

designbot: The introduction of the iMac marked the reincarnation of the Apple we know today.

Absolutely- it was, most importantly, a return to the idea that Apple is a company whose business plan is to monetize Steve Jobs's aesthetics. And I don't mean that in a bad way.
posted by mkultra at 11:46 AM on May 6, 2008


That's right. I said "monry." What ya gonna do about it?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:55 AM on May 6, 2008


Ten years? Wow. Reminds me of being in library school. Back in '97-'98 I was interning at UPenn's Van Pelt library. They were undergoing a huge renovation at the time. When the renovation was complete, along with all the fancy new wood paneling and improved lighting, suddenly there were rows of snazzy new aqua iMacs at stand-up stations, for checking email and looking up things in the library catalog. Took some of the load off of usage of the PCs, which we were responsible for troubleshooting, so I praised their arrival.
posted by medeine at 11:57 AM on May 6, 2008


When the iMac came out, I was in the midst of a computerless few years, having sold my old PowerMac 7100 for food money some time ago. But I would go down to the Yale Co-Op's Apple section just to drool over the G3 Powerbooks and the iMac, and when I finally bought a new computer, it was one of the iMac DVs. Lovely computers, great looking, too, but that puck mouse got my carpal tunnel het up something fierce.
posted by jtron at 12:06 PM on May 6, 2008


I remember when I first heard that the iMac didn't have a floppy drive. I thought: That's insane. How can you use a computer without a floppy drive? About four months later I realized I hadn't used my floppy drive once since I became consciously aware of how 'necessary' I thought it was.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:09 PM on May 6, 2008


“When the iMac shipped, it was a rather desperate calculated move by Apple.”

It marked the beginning of Apple’s digital convergence strategy. They had acquired NeXT less than 2 years prior. Demos of “Rhapsody,” the first glimpse on what would become Mac OS X, had been circulating for a year or so, and Mac OS X Server 1.0 was released about a year later. I remember configuring a bondi blue iMac to boot from a network image, served by a B&W G3 running that release. iTunes would be announced only a few months later, and the first iPod shortly therafter.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 12:49 PM on May 6, 2008


How on earth will we survive without SCSI?

(it's fun to say scuzzy)
posted by ALongDecember at 12:52 PM on May 6, 2008


I have been considering buying an Apple computer since the iMac was first introduced. It fricking amazes me that I've been on the fence for a decade.
posted by fusinski at 12:55 PM on May 6, 2008


I remember when I first heard that the iMac didn't have a floppy drive. I thought: That's insane. How can you use a computer without a floppy drive? About four months later I realized I hadn't used my floppy drive once since I became consciously aware of how 'necessary' I thought it was.

funny story: I built my latest computer without floppy drives for what at the time were obvious reasons. even drivers that came on a floppy could be downloaded off the internet, and on board ethernet meant the ethernet drivers installed with the rest of the mobo software from a cd.

this was a few years ago, so it was installed with the new windows xp that all the cool kids were talking about because I couldn't afford a decent mac and I wanted something more than a cheap mac. the hard drives were IDE.

then I decided to upgrade my hard drives, do a fresh reinstall, using SATA drives, a little less than a year ago I guess.

hey, guess what needed a floppy drive! that's right, the SATA drivers because the windows installer couldn't detect them without it, and it couldn't get them from a cd. That's right, any 3rd party drivers necessary for installation of Windows XP required a floppy. Out of pride, I refused to buy a floppy drive to put in there, no matter how cheaply they could be had, and instead went out and bought the brand spankin' new windows vista. Guess what still didn't have SATA drivers. that's right... and this was LAST YEAR. SATA drives were standard for a long time by then!

Thankfully, Vista could install 3rd party drivers off of a CD-R, but from now on I flat out refuse to claim that anything isn't necessary where Microsoft is involved.
posted by shmegegge at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2008


I was in Germany for CeBIT a year after the iMac was released, and walking through the exhibit where all the case companies where showing off their latest PC cases, there was only one conclusion: everybody was following Apple, even back in these days.

Because, man, there were a *lot* of freaky colors in the plastic cases shown...
posted by DreamerFi at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2008


shmegegge, if you ever run into that problem again, download nlite and slipstream the SATA drivers into the Windows installation. That's how us cool kids do it. :)
posted by fusinski at 1:03 PM on May 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


it's fun to say scuzzy
It'd have been more fun if Apple hadn't wimped out from the proposed sec-see pronounciation
posted by bonaldi at 1:11 PM on May 6, 2008


For some odd reason, I volunteered through an Apple user's group to help with the iMac's introduction at some local retailer. I got this very nice swag box for my trouble, including a really nice white polo with the black Apple logo on the front, and the famous "Yum!" photo layout of fruit-color iMacs on the back.

For some reason, the introduction was canceled at the last minute and never rescheduled.

Still have that polo. Never got an iMac, though. I was making due with my PowerComputing clone.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:15 PM on May 6, 2008


Absolutely- it was, most importantly, a return to the idea that Apple is a company whose business plan is to monetize Steve Jobs's aesthetics. And I don't mean that in a bad way.

This is a really interesting way of putting it. One that's probably pretty close to the truth, despite its similarity to utterly incorrect but common toss-off phrases like "Apple is a fashion company."

A lot of people don't seem to understand that aesthetics and design encompass many things beyond appearance.

But the appearance has definitely been something. Don't think I much liked the iMac design myself, but it was definitely not boring, and it's interesting to think about what it signaled.
posted by weston at 1:28 PM on May 6, 2008


I know a guy who makes the argument that Apple is a "fashion" company, and it's all "just a trend".

He's been saying it for over a decade now. *cough*
posted by patr1ck at 1:52 PM on May 6, 2008


I adored the hockey puck mouse and I wish I still had one. It fit just right in my hand and I could use it with the tips of my fingers instead of having to use the whole hand. I wanted to marry it. I still have my smokey grey iMac and I have big time affection for it. What other desktop computer can you pick up by the handle and cart around like some giant, boulder shaped laptop? I've been known to take it with me to my boring job on the weekend so I could watch movies.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:28 PM on May 6, 2008


wow, you could have bought apple stock as late as 2004 and STILL made a shit ton of money with the iphone.
posted by shmegegge at 2:29 PM on May 6, 2008


Malor, the difference between the Wii and Apple... The Wii still sucks...

Bit of stretch here. Sure, there's tons of shovelware on the Wii (as well as the DS) but there's ten or so extremely solid Wii titles. The Big N show that they're finally starting to get online play with the release of the killer Mario Kart Wii.

What I dream about is an Apple/Nintendo fusion birthing a next-gen DS... oh my god that is nice.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:55 PM on May 6, 2008


The iMac is at least partially responsible for me not only tolerating Macs, but liking them. It was an eMac, and it was mostly OS X that did it for me. (The eMac is audaciously atrocious machine, I know. I'm probably one of a handful of people that have actually taken one apart, and put it back together.)

In retrospect I think that the part about Apple buying NeXT and making OS X is going to turn out to be a rather signficant event in computing history. About as significant as the first Apple computers, and how they made everyone else step up their game just by taking a different step.

I currently have a blue iMac of unknown vintage I'm trying to get 10.4 on, and a blue g3 tower.

I made myself feel really old and dumb just the other day trying to put 10.4 on it. I sat there for about five minutes trying to boot the install CD before I realized that it was a DVD and useless to an old iMac. That says something about iMacs, really, that they still feel that useable and current ten years later, that I would just expect it to work like that. Go look at a ten year old PC laptop or desktop and see if it has aged nearly so well in both form and function.
posted by loquacious at 3:33 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


k8t: did you work at the University of Michigan? Because that's exactly what happened when I was in undergrad there - lots of macs get bought, people complain, they get turned into email terminals.

I always used Apples because you didn't have to wait to use them. I did hate the mouse, though.
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:40 PM on May 6, 2008


I have to give props to my eMac, which has been a rock-solid tank for four years and which has no idea that its replacement is in the mail. My favourite moment was the sheer terror of upgrading a hard drive that sits right next to a charged, bare CRT. Oh, and nobody believes I edited a film on it. Hell, I can't believe I edited a film on it.
posted by sixswitch at 4:10 PM on May 6, 2008


I love the Mac/Apple threads...it's like going to a class reunion and talking about who you did and how great it was!

That said, my best night ever was spent with a TAM.
posted by HuronBob at 4:11 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


That said, my best night ever was spent with a TAM.

Ooh la la - tell us more. How was that Bose subwoofer?
posted by porn in the woods at 4:16 PM on May 6, 2008


That Bose Subwoofer pounded nicely, thank you! :)

(I still have the TAM, works like a champ...best computer Apple ever made!)
posted by HuronBob at 4:32 PM on May 6, 2008


That says something about iMacs, really, that they still feel that useable and current ten years later, that I would just expect it to work like that. Go look at a ten year old PC laptop or desktop and see if it has aged nearly so well in both form and function.

Apple's deal is that they have always been able to get away with charging premium prices for average performance - whilst convincing their customers they are really getting something special.

Marketing is what they do best.

Anyway, I have one of these bondi blue G3, 20gb harddisk boat anchors sitting in my office.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what useful purpose one of these can be put to?
posted by three blind mice at 4:35 PM on May 6, 2008


Before it came out, Apple was still making boring beige boxes, the impact of Steve Jobs' return hadn't really been seen yet, and calling the company "beleaguered" was so common it was a cliche.

They'd already made the translucent green eMate and translucent purple (sorry, azul) Studio Display when the iMac came out, which debuted on the same day as the curvy PowerBook G3. The company's financial position was saved by the Power Mac G3 which had come out 6 months earlier and sold by the boatload at exorbitant prices.

So really the iMac was just another rung in the ladder, albeit a very visible one, rather than a big bang. I don't believe it ever really sold that well.
posted by cillit bang at 4:37 PM on May 6, 2008


I have to give props to my eMac, which has been a rock-solid tank for four years and which has no idea that its replacement is in the mail.

My exact same situation. Stupid FedEx won't upgrade to tell me if the iMac has left Toledo.
posted by terrapin at 4:43 PM on May 6, 2008


I was only vaguely aware of the iMac when it was first released, but I caught on quickly. Remember walking into the brand new library computer lab at my university and seeing half the lab filled with the later multi-colored versions, like Skittles. The Apple edu outpost was right next store... I still have the 'Yum' pin.

I graduated in 2001 and they're probably still there, but it was quite an upgrade from the previous beige-boxes-in-the-dorm basement labs.

My first Mac was the blue G3 tower. Not the greatest Mac ever, but damn it was pretty. (I should have bought an iMac, since I never upgraded the damn thing anyway, but I though I needed a 17" screen. While moving in and out of dorms. Dumb.) The tripod monitor puttered out and went to the big recycling bin in the sky last year, but the tower is still sitting under my desk.

Oh, and I used the hockey puck mouse for years, until I encountered mice with scroll wheels and decided I had to have one. I still have it somewhere...
posted by fujikosmurf at 5:04 PM on May 6, 2008


Ahh. I remember the first iMacs. I got to play with one at a Government Technology Conference when I lived in Sacramento. My old roommate and I happily participated in the Apple Demo Days that Comp USA held at their "store in a store" locations. Shortly after the release, I was among the first group of call center phone monkeys trained to handle iMac support calls at the new call center in Elk Grove, CA. I was on the phones for over a year, and the response to the product was overwhelmingly positive. A few people bitched about the lack of floppy drive, but mostly those were PC users trying to stir up anti-Mac sentiment.
posted by drstein at 6:05 PM on May 6, 2008


I bought a blueberry iMac in 1999. It was my first Mac, and I bought it a month after dropping out of a wintel-oriented hardware/software technician and A+ certification course. I just got so tired of "reinstall Windows" being the answer to everything that I resolved never to own a PC again.

In the nine-year interim I've had two computers: the iMac, for five years, and the iBook I'm typing this message on, for the last four and counting. I've never had a hardware problem, and I've never so much as reinstalled my OS. I'll never willingly go back.
posted by loiseau at 6:05 PM on May 6, 2008


I put Ubuntu Linux on one of those blue jelly beans for my Mum. She's still happy with it. Shit of a thing to get inside to change the battery, though.
posted by flabdablet at 7:39 PM on May 6, 2008


I bought one for my mother in 99. She still has it in her studio, we added gobs of RAM and put OSX on it, and it works great. She plays streaming music with iTunes, watches DVDs with her grandkids, and uses Firefox when she needs it. She has a laptop as a main computer, but the iMac has disappared into 'appliance' status, just the way a computer should.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:47 PM on May 6, 2008


Apple's deal is that they have always been able to get away with charging premium prices for average performance - whilst convincing their customers they are really getting something special.

Marketing is what they do best.
posted by three blind mice at 6:35 PM


They do a few other things well also.

I always hated apple marketing. I hated the iMac. I made fun of people who used apple products. I eventually moved to the mac to get away from pcs (on a whim). You couldn't pay me to go back.

The idea that everyone who uses a mac is a victim of marketing is asinine, and the people that push such nonsense are the yen to the yang of mac fanboys.
posted by justgary at 11:00 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The idea that everyone who uses a mac is a victim of marketing is asinine, and the people that push such nonsense are the yen to the yang of mac fanboys.

Not everyone who uses mac is a victimg of marketing. I use 'em all without regard to race, creed, color, operating system, or logo. Like Tolstoy's unhappy family, each one sucks in its own unique way. I don't care what the chassis looks like, I'm interested in what's under the bonnet.

At the end of the day what's under the bonnet: the chips, the keyboards, the disk drives, screens, are all commodity items that everyone uses. Apple sells these components at premium prices - you can get the EXACT same hardware cheaper from a lot of other sources. (Not packaged in a pretty plastic box of course.....)

Apple's profit margin on the iPhone, as an example, is something like 100% - unheard of in the mobile phone industry where margins of 10% are already rare - they use the same chips everyone else uses, the same displays, the same contract manufacturers, ... and yet people are willing to wait in line for days to pay premium prices for them.

I like the iPhone. The interface is slick, but it's a wickedly expensive mobile phone for not having a quad band GSM, 3G, HSDPA, or any of the other high performance hardware you'd expect in a device costing so much.

So Apple has its brand appeal. Nothing wrong with that.

But I am still allowed to smirk when I see people paying big money for a powerful looking sports car that has a tiny engine and a cheesy transmission.
posted by three blind mice at 4:28 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


omigod, this is so exciting! It's the first tech nostalgia thread ever where I've actually been able to remember the technology everyone's nostalgic over!

And my high school computer lab ran Linux.
posted by jacalata at 6:00 AM on May 7, 2008


Is it wrong that as I was reading this thread last night from my dual 2 GHz MacBook, I wished for my trusty old 400 MHz Pismo PowerBook to be back in working condition?
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 6:08 AM on May 7, 2008


It depends whether you also wanted OS 9 back as well :) As above, I'm still using it everyday at work, and don't think I'll ever miss unprotected memory, networking stacks that freeze the whole machine for seconds at a time, or the gaping lack of a modern browser.

Still, I'll always prefer the colour System 7 theme to any other, including all the Aqua variants.
posted by bonaldi at 6:25 AM on May 7, 2008


and ten years later, apple is still not making a decent mouse.

(but the imac rocked)
posted by krautland at 6:26 AM on May 7, 2008


bonaldi, my Pismo ran OS X like a champ! I did nearly all of my college compsci programming on it.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 7:40 AM on May 7, 2008


But I am still allowed to smirk when I see people paying big money for a powerful looking sports car that has a tiny engine and a cheesy transmission.
posted by three blind mice


You're simply wrong three blind mice. I could easily link to 5 recent articles that contradict your claim that macs are more money. Do they make crappy 500 dollar laptops? No. But with comparable features macs are similarly priced to pcs, and resell is better. Your claim is outdated and false.

As far as performance, even if you're right, it doesn't matter. 90 percent of users have no problem with performance. Gamers? Maybe. Heavy graphic design? Sure. But most people surf, do email, blog. Any computer will do those things.

You might care about performance. The majority of users don't. It doesn't come into play.
posted by justgary at 3:25 PM on May 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


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