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back to article The Mac that saved Apple (and Steve Jobs)

On May 6, 1998, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iMac at the Flint Center Theater in Apple's home town of Cupertino, California — the same venue where he had unveiled the original Macintosh back in 1984. "We think iMac is going to be a really big deal," he told the crowd. He was right. The iMac shipped at the stroke of …

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Pint

Sooo close

You so nearly got through without your inner fanboi escaping but fluffed it at the end:

"I'm surrounded by the guts of the personal computer that saved Apple, arguably jump-started the internet age, helped kill off the floppy, and brought translucency to everything from George Foreman grills to Rowenta Surfline steam irons."

Jump-started the internet age? My arse. I'd love to see any accurate statistics you may have for the number of people who first experienced the internet or first had the internet at home on an iMac. I'd be prepared to make a healthy wager that the true figure is vanishingly small.

Helped kill off the floppy I can't really sit still for either. Yes it helped but so did about a billion other factors. Claiming the iMac was significant is like trying to take credit for keeping the worlds trees alive because *I* produce CO2. The iMac is way down the list behind CD-R, CD-RW, freefalling drive prices, USB memory sticks, software bloat etc.

You probably deliberately left out the 'i'. We're into our second decade of marketing wonks insisting that anything can be cool if you put an 'i' in front of it. Shoot them, shoot them all.

Translucent everything - oh yes, that's thanks to the iMac for sure which is a marmite thing in itself but you should have highlighted the bigger truth I'd credit the iMac with. It started a revolution in design. We see attempts at aesthetically pleasing design in the most mundane of items these days from cheap radios to phones to, well, you name it. Nothing in a poorly designed or plain beige box stands a prayer. Much as I dislike Apple the iMac deserves a beer for that so here's one.

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Jobs Halo

It did

The iMac was the first personal computer to ship that was ready to connect to the internet in seconds, via Earthlink (in the USA). It was the best selling computer of all time-- and the first computer that I ever bought.

Also, the RAM on that original Bondi could actually be upgraded to 512MB, once compatible 256MB chips became available (one of the pair would have to be "low profile.") And for a brief time, a DVD drive was marketed for that model by MCE; think they might even have sold a DVD RW too for an even briefer period.) Oh and another thing I just remembered, the firmware update necessary to run OS 9 on the Bondi disabled the mezzanine slot. :(

I upgraded everything possible on my BondiMac, including an iForce 500MHz G4 processor from OWC which enabled it to run OSX up to 10.4.11. The trick was that the OS had to be installed within a boot partition under 8GB on the new HD.

Gave away my Bondi last year, it was still working fine and running Tiger. Even the latest build of Safari would run on that upgraded machine, the only little problem being that the lack of decent VRAM kept it from being able to support CoverFlow.

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WTF?

Best selling computer of all time?

I don't believe you. Figures, please.

GJC

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Jobs Horns

Definitely not best selling computer of all time

Wasn't the Commodore 64 the best selling computer of all time?

The iMac G3 only shipped for four years or so, and while it did well, it was only occasionally the best seller in that period - that itself an unfair comparison against a fragmented PC market - a huge market that made Apple look like a true minority player by comparison. It is ludicrous to claim that such a minority interest machine could have made a significant impact on uptake of the internet.

It might have give a little push to consumer enthusiasm but if it hadn't been around another machine would have served just as well. I remember internet cafes stuffed with these, but far more were stuffed with beige box PCs.

It was a decent return to form after the terrible era of the "LC" but felt cheap and nasty compared to old style Macintosh boxes; the keyboard was mediocre and the mouse was horrible cheap tacky junk.

In that same era IBM, Toshiba and other business laptop manufacturers were selling internet ready Windows machines that you could just turn on and go with, so I don't think Apple have any special claim to accessibility there either. I can't recall when the awesome T40 released, possibly after the G3, but it would be no surprise to me if the T40 series alone outsold the G3. Now there is a machine that is worthy of praise and memorial. I bet there are more people still using their T40s than are using their disposable consumer toy G3s. I still see T40-43 machines for sale at fair prices, while old plastic iMacs are dumped at the side of the road for hard rubbish collection.

Perhaps somebody has some figures?

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Best Selling?

The best-selling computer of all time is the Commodore 64 - by a significant amount.

There's a tendency amongst both Apple execs and fans to re-write history in their favour - Commodore had the best-selling computer ever with the 64, and the first colour DTP machine with the Amiga.

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Unhappy

Sooo predictable

"..Much as I dislike Apple..."

Pretty much sums up your comment.

I suppose your God of Innovation is the other company - the one with the simian CEO.

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FAIL

Re: Sooo predictable

"Sooo predictable"

Says Ted Treen, the serial Steve Jobs fluffer, before yet again jumping to the defence of his favourite fruit-themed Mega-Corporation.

Irony FAIL.

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Jobs Halo

More BallmerJugend stuff...

"It might have give a little push to consumer enthusiasm"

That's crap - & you know it. (If you don't, then you shouldn't be commenting on matters of which you're unaware, or which you don't understand).

"if it hadn't been around another machine would have served just as well..."

More craperoonie!

Your praise for the T40 suggests you would rave over a Ford Edsel, whilst dismissing a Jaguar E type or a Ferrarri 250 GTO as insignificant toys.

Pure sophistry (or absolute bollocks, in the vernacular).

If you have such a crystal-clear sharp perspective on the IT world, might we assume that you're CEO of a company worth vastly more than Apple, and you're one of the world's most influential IT industry movers?

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N2

Internet age...

Well, it certainly wasnt 'jump started' by Mr Gates,

"when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority" - 1998

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FAIL

General fail all round (Logic, courage etc...)

THE POSITIVES

Yes, I have used Macs for many years.

Yes I personally prefer the Mac's OS to other offerings.

Yes I have sufficient confidence to add my name to comments.

THE NEGATIVES

No I don't care what anyone else uses/has used/will use.

No I don't find the spittle-laden invective of your tribe either informative or entertaining.

No I don't see that being a Mega-Corporation is automatically intrinsically evil.

No I don't see anything wrong in preferring reasoned discourse to adolescent sophistry.

No I don't expect that the above described preference is likely to be satisfied.

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@Andy Christ

Windows 95 shipped with MSN preinstalled and I daresay other PCs shipped with AOL or other apps preinstalled. So a good few PCs doubtless existed way before your "first personal computer to ship that was ready to connect to the internet in seconds" that did exactly that.

Of course maybe Apple bragged they were the first, but it wouldn't be the first time they made baldfaced lies in ads. See also claims about the Mac being the first 64-bit OS, the fastest PC ever etc.

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C64 - kinda the best selling but it depends

Commodore sold 17 million C64 units world-wide over a 10 year period. Computers evolved much more slowly back in the 80's whereas now they're upgraded every year.

Apple sold 6 million original iMacs in 4 years which at the time was impressive. They sell over 10-million Macs / year now

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Which is amusing

Go on ebay and look at Commodore 64s. You'll see "rare computer" in some of the listings. Idiots who aren't aware of their popularity.

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Linux

How far out of touch can you be?

> The iMac was the first personal computer to ship that was ready

> to connect to the internet in seconds,

It's amazing that you guys actually believe this nonsense.

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Linux

Outside of Oceania Big Brother is not such a big deal.

> Well, it certainly wasnt 'jump started' by Mr Gates,

The key thing that Apple Fanboys continue to fail to grasp is the fact that you don't need to be dependent on a single platform tyrant or "Big Brother" if there is a healthy open and free market for 3rd party products. Gates doesn't have to drive everything. There are plenty of others capable of driving innovation.

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Grenade

What JEDIDIAH *actually* wanted to say...

"Don't be mean about Bill and Microsoft! You all should be thankful! He single handedly invented the computer and the internet and programming and everything. If you don't agree with me you are a fanboi" Prick.

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well actually

AOL was on System X quite a while before it was on PC. The iMac went on sale in 1998, and was one of only a few machines with an integrated modem AND a network adapter. It was not until AOL 3 the PC even had a non-DOS version in 1996, and it was not very popular. AOL 4.0 for Windows 95 was not released until late 1998, and was the first time anyone on AOL could actually email out to the open internet and browse regular web sites. Mac users were heavy in AOL, and had been since v1.0 in 1989, almost 10 years... Yes, there were some AOL dos users as early as 1991, but they were few and far between.

Apple also had Apple Link, and partnerships with numerous other providers. The "i" in iMac literally stood for "internet" if you asked anyone at the time (and they were wuoted numerous times in the press using that interchangeably with "individual." Getting an iMac online took 2 steps. Turn it on, and choose a provider. 100% of the work was done for the user before the box was ever opened. Conversely, getting a PC online was a pain. ERven machines that included modems rarely could use them out of the box easily, and bundling of ISPs had not yet taken off (not until Windows 98 SE did Microsoft even finish adding the TCP/IP stack to the OS).

Apple made online simple. Even with XP people still had issues getting modems to work. With a strong user base already in AOL, and other services, and with a cheap, easy to buy PC and choice of browsers once you were online (something you could not do on a PC until years later with AOL 5) the internet was much more open on a Mac.

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Boffin

AOL != internet

AOL is the legacy of the era of "Content Networks" or whatever they were called. AOL was the ugly duckling, with Compuserve having a hell of a lot more users back then, and they already had a Windows client by 1996. There were far more users using Compuserve for Internet than AOL users. The rest of the masses were actually using local ISPs, you know, the zillion dialup ISPs that used to exist before they were all Blockbuster'd into oblivion by AOL.

While Win 3.1 was a pain to get on the internet (we depended on Trumpet Winsock or similar apps), Win95 actually came with an internal TCP/IP stack, or at least one that worked well enough to work out of the box. So no, the iMac wasn't the first one with internet connectivity; what it *did* have was the ability to work out of the box without fumbling for a zillion cables; just plug in keyboard, mouse, phone line and power. Voila!

However, I think that by the time the iMac came out, the Internet boom was already in gear, and the most popular FPS of that time (Quake) having TCP/IP support, which incidentally also started the whole FPS modding fad. It was possible with Doom, but during Quake's lifetime you could find all the good modding tools on the 'net, and could publish your mods on the Quake-related sites. Ah, the days...

Hell, it was probably Quake the one that got kids on the 'net. 64 player deathmatches or CTF sure beats 2-player modem games!

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@ Jedidiah

"It's amazing that you guys actually believe this nonsense."

It's amazing that you feel so vehemently opposed to something that was in part 'very true'.

I received my Rev A iMac (sitting here in the room with me) the day after it became available in the UK.

One of Apple's promo pieces was that a 7 year old boy and his dog could get an iMac onto the internet faster than a tech-savvy computer magazine editor could get a similar spec Windows Machine out of the box and up and running. In the puff, the boy did it in 12 minutes (or thereabouts) and that included opening the box and unpacking it.

As a test I though I would give that a try. I didn't have a dog but I did have an 11 year daughter.

All I did was lift it out of the box (as it was rather heavy) and she did the rest.

17 minutes later and she was on a website and I had done nothing - not even spoken to her.

It wasn't just that - after that 17 minutes the computer was completely useable. There was nothing else to install to make it work. (apart from a printer driver for whichever printer you were using)

Compare that to the last time I installed anew PC out of the box. It was 2 hours before it was in any fit state to use.

The comment in the piece about the FORMAC module. The TV version was virtullay impossible to find - I think I only ever saw one - and it was so ridiculousy expensive I didn't even think about buying it. I did buy the standard SCSI card though. Had my Nikon slide scanner connected to it without any problems at all. If you rang FORMASC here in the UK they didn't know anything about either unit and were particuarly useless in that respect.

When I was working in John Lewis as an Apple demonstrator, we would outsell windows PCs 5 to 1 on a typical Saturday and occasionally reached 7 to 1.

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Happy

certainly a very fast internet connection

as actually when i opened my bondi box ( i bought one of the first available in Mexico), the internet access was practically available with two or three clicks once powered.. and if not in seconds, certainly very very fast. Compared with other pcs, a no nonsense...

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Silver badge
FAIL

Chill, Bro!

To use a motoring analogy, you are claiming only those who buy kit-cars and assemble them themselves are proper motorists - unlike those "halfwits" (as you so delicately put it) who buy a ready-made car from a dealer because all they have to do is turn a key & drive off.

"..PC ownership is wholly and significantly much, much, much greater than Apple ownership.." Probably so - but then going back to my motoring analogy, Vauxhall Nova ownership is wholly and significantly much, much, much greater than Jaguar/Ferrarri/Bentley ownership - proving what, exactly?

I don't think the OP would be best pleased to hear his kids described (inaccurately & unfairly) as dumb, any more than I would be delighted to hear my wife described as dumb simply because she drives (and drives very well) but she would not be able to balance twin SU carbs, change the &*^%£$ bypass hose on an original Mini or retime an engine with a strobe lamp.

Most people today want something they can just use without getting their hands (metaphorically) dirty. Just as the days of the sought-after Chauffeur/Mechanic have passed, many of us who do delve inside the box of our computers are finding our talents to be unnecessary, and yes - it's a blow to our egos to find we no longer have the almost hero-worship we enjoyed some years ago, but that's progress. Ranting about it doesn't and won't help.

I switched focus to Macs in the late 1980's for that very reason - I realised that the techie knowledge I had acquired & used since the 1970's was on its way to becoming no longer needed.

My Grandad used to tinker with his car in the 1920's at least every week - frequently more often - just to keep it going. Me? I just take ours to the dealer every 12,000 miles, and I only check the consumables (oil, water, tyres etc.) every weekend.

On the Mac? I just back up the HDs and little else. I can do whatever might be needed should it ever be necessary, but I haven't had to do much else for many years of ownership from my LC to my current MacPro.

You want to travel a different path? That's fine by me and I wouldn't revile you for doing so.

However, I WOULD revile you for heaping execrable invective upon someone else and his family for having the temerity to entertain a point of view not wholly in accordance with yours.

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Dear Michael

You really do have a problem don't you?

Did you really see an advert and decide "My own daughter is as ignorant and stupid as a dog too, perhaps she can use an imac, let me test" Because that's what the marketing was saying.

You truely are ignorant and biased.

I said my daughter is as itelligent as a boy and his dog.

I was involcved in selling these imacs. Apple used that commecrcial to promote the imac. I had to test for myself whether or not it was possible for someone with no technical know-how to do what apple claimed - otherwise I could support that sales pitch.

t took her a bit longer than the 12 minutes - but she did it unaided.

You also seem to take exception to a FACT I posted about imac sales in John Lewis. Please note that John Lewis is NOT the rest of the world.

I don't know where you baought your computers - not that I'm interested - but John Lewis sells huge number of computers. Before the advent of the Apple store (and even before the advent of the iMac) they were the biggest retail outlet for Apple in the UK and across the group outsold all the other mac dealers in the country. (told to me at Apple by an Apple retail exec before I started doing demos.).

I still have many clients who when replacinf a mac (and now they are replacing PCs with Macs) who buy from john Lewis.

Just to set you straight on a couple of points - many of these halfwit purchasers live in houses worth several million pounds, in exclusive parts of London and the home counties. Some of them own mobile phone networks. Some of them own their own retail chains. Some of them own hedge funds and banks Some of them travel the world lecturing. Some are board members of international conglomerates.

All of them halfwits?

Yep. You'sve got a problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Is building a pc such a skill?

"I'd sooner have an intelligent, computer savvy kid that could assemble his own PC from parts, install and configure the OS - that's very easy and doable with a modern PC. If you want to celebrate the idea that your kids are dumb and the best they can do is plug in a computer and press 'on' so be it."

Do you honestly think it's an important or even difficult skill to know how to assemble a PC and install the OS?

If my son grows up and is interested in computers, I think it would be good to build a computer with him, install / configure linux on it and then use it, to see what issues he has to deal with. That way he would learn something about the make up of computers, from both the hardware and software side.

After that, or even if he has no interest in computers, I've no problem introducing him to macs, like me and my wife use these days.

Computers needn't be difficult; if the software has been created well, you should be able to get on with your work with minimum fuss.

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Linux

What JEDIDIAH actually said...

...is more along the lines of "you are a clueless fanboy" that's trying to rewrite history. An open platform doesn't have to be driven by it's "owner". 3rd parties can handle the enhancements. 3rd parties did infact handle these sorts of enhancements.

The idea that Apple beat the entire cabal of PC manufacturers to anything is a little absurd.

Apple might have raised visibility a bit and made more noise, but they probably weren't first in anything ever.

If you are trying to frame this as "Gates versus Jobs" then you simply don't understand anything.

By 1998, it was a bit late to be fixating on stuff like Earthlink.

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Linux

The problem with being willfully ignorant

The problem with being willfully ignorant is that you are vulnerable to being taken advantage of by anyone that is not. You can see this at work in a lot of places if you just watch the differences between how men and women are treated by a car salesmen or mechanic. A lot of cultural baggage goes into play and you get a nice eyeful of what "glorifying ignorance" can do.

You have to have at least half a clue or you won't know why your new game from the Apple store won't play on your not very old Mac Mini.

If you don't know what you're doing, it's far too easy to be sold total crap and be overcharged for it.

This extends far beyond computing.

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Linux

Don't kid yourselves.

> It's amazing that you feel so vehemently opposed to something that was in part 'very true'.

Only in Oceania...

It is not infact true. It's total revisionist fanboy nonsense.

By the time the iMac came out, broadband was already starting to emerge. So the entire idea of trying to support something old and tired like serial modems was already starting to get rediculously out of date.

No, high speed internet probably did more to help along internet adoption than the bundleware that came on Apple's after it was already on every other major brand of PC.

> Compare that to the last time I installed anew PC out of the box.

> It was 2 hours before it was in any fit state to use.

You can install a new OS from scratch quicker than that, nevermind a ready made box.

A ready made brand name PC is the same as dealing with a Mac Mini.

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FAIL

Windows on the intertoobs

"Windows 95 shipped with MSN preinstalled and I daresay other PCs shipped with AOL or other apps preinstalled."

Did PC's in 1995 come with an integrated modem?

The answer is no, no they didn't.

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Silver badge

Yes. Yes, they did.

I just looked at the manufacturing date on my 386sx16. Tag on the back says September 1986. It came with a modem, and functional out-of-the-box ProComm software that allowed me to dial into BBSes, and connect to Fidonet, BIX and Delphi ... I can't remember if I ever connected to Compuserve with it. It ran MSDOS and QEMM for a while, but I soon got frustrated by the lack of utility and set it up to dual-boot Coherent, where I mostly used UUCP for connectivity ...

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FAIL

seriously?

1. The design of the iMac was heavily influenced by the SGI machines designs in particular the octane 2.

2. Internet pre-dates win 95, we had IBM's OS2 Warp which was a far superior OS to both the macOS of the time and Windows 95 when it came out.

You could also use UNIX, SUNOS and PCDOS (made by the original creator of DOS)

Contrary to Mac fanboys such as some of the commentators, the pc market does not mean bill gates or windows, it's an open market in which you can also run OSX quite easily.

This is what Jebediah actually said if you bothered to read the actual message.

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@don't kid yourselves

What's with this oceania stuff?

You seem be be thinking that geeks are normal people.

Yes the internet was around long before the imac came along, and yes, broadband was starting to emerge. Note - STARTING.

Broadband wasn't commonplace for a long time after - say 6 years or so. Note - COMMONPLACE.

I had more people using ISDN than broadband with their imacs. I had to wait ages for my exchange to be broadband enabled and I live in a London suburb.

Yes you are right that high speed internet probably did more to help internet adoption (not sure of the relevance of the rest of your sentence). But normal people didn't start usng broadband in any serious numbers ' til about 5 years ago. Geeks used it from the off. Domestic take-up was very slow. Normal people used a local call dial-up service to Easynet or Tiscali or AOL. etc. Don't try to kid yourself that that is not the case. - I am still visiting people who are making the switch - even now!

You also have to remember that domestic take-up of the internet at that time was incredibly low anyway. At the place I worked (ISDN equipped) out of about 60 people only 3 or 4 of us were connected (via dial-up) at home. That's because we were techies and we could work out how to do it.

What made the imac different was that my 11 year old daughter was able to set it up and get it connected to the interet on her own. with no help or instructions from me (yes she had the answers to the phone number, username password and DNS all writen down). I seriously doubt that she could heve done it with a typical PC of the day.

My comment about the 2 hours to set up (no sorry - make useable) a PC was absolutely true. I was working in 2 rooms in a house. One room had an imac that was being replaced by a newer model (the G4 anglepoise version) the other had a brand new Packard Bell something or other (IIRC) - both bought the same day.

The iMac was configured and complete will all the files transfered from the old machine in about 20 minutes. All I had to do was connect a firewire cable, do a restart of the old machine and say transfer on the new one and that was it. 20 minutes later, comlete will all email intact and looking exactly the same to the user as the old machine. Not so the PC. (and I didn't transfer any of his files).

I haven't done a PC since then so you may well be right that you can install a complete OS in less time. But installing an OS does not a useable computer make.

Anyway just for info. If you take a new iMac out of the box today, it's ready to use in about 3 minutes. Connected to the net and doing email. Depending on what printer you have you probably don't have to install any drivers either. (It would be quicker but Apple insist you watch a welcome movie first).

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Bringing back memories

It was only three-four years ago I had a contract with a public school system. The relatively small elementary school I worked out of for about three years had about 75 computers (staff and classrooms) total and just under half of them were iMacs, the majority of them being these same G3 Bondi Blue models. By current standards they certainly weren't snappy but the kids never seemed to mind. (It's notable that the kids could bounce from new to old Macs and Windows PCs without major issues. But on average, adults, the teachers and staff, tended to always stick with one platform or the other and would freak out if even an icon for a common application would change on the Desktops.) Anyway, those photos of the iMac tear down gave made me twitch a bit from the memories. Upgrading something like RAM on a PC was just a matter of popping open the case, or on later model iMacs where they put an easy access, round hinged hatch on the bottom side, but as mentioned in the article, doing the same for one of these original iMacs required a clear space on a table and some planning.

Regarding the matter of CRT displays dying, out of the thirty+ iMacs I don't recall a problem with any of them. Being in a school those iMacs could get pretty beat up but the displays weren't a problem. Extracting pencil leads (from a typical mechanical pencil) from those front-mounted audio ports was a problem for a while. And of course occasional damage to peripherals like keyboards and mice. Hated those stupid round, puck mice. I was actually glad when one of those mice would get damaged or a kid would steal the ball inside so I could replace it with a more conventional one.

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Boffin

The Problem With...

...CRTs, and not just the ones in the iMAC, is that they were designed in nice clean laboratories.

Although I never had experience with iMACs, I was building television studios in the late 70s and had failures of two high-end ($6000) control room color monitors. One from Tektronics and another a few years later by Barco.

Both performed beautifully right out of the box, but after about 6 months lost focus and eventually quit. The culprit, micro carbon (soot) in our NYC air. As anyone that has owned a color CRT knows, the 35,000 or so volts behind the glass attracts dirt. In fact a CRT can be thought of as an electrostatic air cleaner with pictures.

Inside the case, all parts containing elevated DC voltages similarly collect airborne dirt, and for city dwellers this includes carbon. Unfortunately (for CRT monitor makers, not resistor and telephone makers) carbon is conductive, and as the carbon built up, more and more current was drained away by leakage paths through this carbon.

in http://regmedia.co.uk/2010/11/24/imac_crt_tuner_large.jpg we can see a thin layor of microcarbon on the white flyback transformer. This is a very minor case, but in a carbon-rich environment, enough must have collected to lead to fuzziness and shutdown.

In the filtered air of a school, this problem would be much less likely, as Ed Vim's experience suggests.

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Silver badge

Did bring in USB

I think the iMac was the first computer where the USB "just worked" - Win95 died if you hotplugged anything, and I remember even Linux had USB issues.

And holy crap... translucent this and translucent that, and everybody wanted to look like an iMac. I remember joking about buying translucent plastic stock.

Nice little trip down memory lane... punchcard avenue... whatever you want to call it.

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Pint

Win95

I'm sure we all remember Bill Gates' and his hilarious on-stage USB "demonstration".

Whatever the bitter and twisted anti-Apple-tards might post in these articles, Apples resurgence redefined the PC industry - and that's why *every* major tech company is now scrambling to keep up with them.

A pint for Mr Jobs.

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Gates

Didn't Gates have a pop at the iMac, something like, "Who's going to buy a fruit-laballed, plastic colored toy as a computer?".

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"i"

"i" is marketard-speak for "idiots will buy anything shiny".

And no, Apple's late '90s computers had nothing to do with the general public's uptake of internet access. Apple didn't have the market-share to claim anything to do with it.

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Silver badge

56k was _never_ fast

Back when 56k was out ISDN which had multiples of 64k was already out and in widespread use. In fact if your "office" wasn't able to get you ISDN, 56k would neither work. So essentially it was a "supposed to be internet"-box which couldn't connect to the internet without an external ISDN router. Those were really expensive back then. But I guess it didn't matter, as the keyboard didn't have an @ key.

What I personally consider the best design of that time was the iBook. It had a shock absorbant case. The only think it lacks was a VGA output. If it had one, and the CD-Rom drive would have been any better, I'd probably still use it.

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Stop

@Christian Berger re: 56k

It's all comparative.

If you had moved up from 1200/75b/s, through V.22bis, V.32 and V.32bis, then V.90 was fast.

If you were using it for commercial use, then it was almost certainly the upload speed that was your issue, as it was asymmetric and the upload channel was a fraction of the download speed. IIRC, if you did V.90 modem to V.90 modem directly, you could only get 33.6kb/s anyway. You needed something like a DS0 setup, which could directly inject digital signals into the phone system, to give you the 56k download speed to end-users.

Most home users mostly downloaded data, so this was not a big issue.

Don't compare your 20Mb/s ADSL line, or even channel-bonded ISDN with what home users had available at the time, because ISDN was far too expensive for home users to consider, even the 'reduced-cost' Home Highway that BT tried to sell.

At this time, nobody did large mail attachments or video, and you left P2P running for hours or days if you were using it. Web sites were still mainly HTML, with only fairly small GIF images. You also did not have flash video adverts or java or javascript apps at all. Most pages were fairly static, and eminently cachable, so we got what we though was a good service at the time.

I wan my whole household (several computers with thin-wire Ethernet, and then wireless as it became available - we're a techie household) on a dial-on-demand 56K modem for several years, until BT got round to upgrading our exchange to ADSL.

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Anonymous Coward

Depends

I know that in Germany, it was not uncommon in 1998 for household consumers to have ISDN. Something to do with Deutsche Telekom promoting it. So, 56k would have been slow in comparison. However, where I was living in the US, anything faster than 56k was not available until around 2000. Unless you were willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to run a T1 line to your house.

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Silver badge
Boffin

Re: 56k was _never_ fast

It depends on which country you live in. If it is the EU, ISDN was probably as common as PSTN lines in the American continent. In the US, it wasn't really popular, and here in Mexico, it was pretty much short-lived, somewhere around 2000 and marketed as "Prodigy Turbo" (basically, selling on the possibility of getting 128k using the two B channels). It never really took off, as changing all your phone equipment for ISDN stuff was pretty expensive. Real broadband availability for everyone came with ADSL, so we really spent all of the 90's with slow-ass internet links. 56k was fast for home users, most of us lusted for getting an E1 at our homes.

Now, the campus network was entirely different. I remember 8 kilobyte/sec downloads there, though it sometimes got as fast as 40 kB/s. That must've been circa 1998.

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T1

Bob Ames got a T-1 line to our house in '95. He spent a little over one thousand USD, it ran to his shack down by the creek.

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Gold badge

"...a clean design with no "whoops" do-over traces...."

Er, you already mentioned it's actually a Rev B machine? Presumably there was a reason for the revision? I doubt the GPU swap was, in itself, the primary driver for this and I strongly suspect that a "tidied" version of the logic board was the top item.

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He mentions it

It was the upgraded video.

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Bronze badge

On internet uptake

The iMac did make computer usage and internet usage easier and more acceptable to a large number of people. There were many [1] who felt disdain at having a beige box and massive monitor in their bedrooms, living rooms etc. The iMac helped greatly here.

In my experience, and this may not be representative of people as a whole, was that young women especially bought them as their first computer. It looked well, fitted nicely into an apertment, worked simply and often they had exposure to macs in college or from those around them. Guys, at this time, wanted PCs with their beefy graphics cards to play Quake and the like.

[1] I am ready to write for Wikipedia...

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Bronze badge
Linux

Ah yes

We have a pink one, answers to the name of Cousin Serena (or actually Cousin_Serena, as she now runs Linux.) She's always tended to get a little hot, so she's gone through a fair number of disk drives, and she jolts when she starts, when it sounds as though her flux capacitor has hit 88, but she's still here, weighing the house down in the gales.

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Trivia - port door error

The "rubber-ringed hole" in the port door was NOT for threading cables through - that was purely the 'handle' for opening the door. There are gaps at the bottom left and right of the door for the cables to come through without any fiddly threading involved.

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Thumb Down

... Jump-started the internet age

no, really ... no

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/microsoft-vs-apple-whos-winning-the-numbers-dont-lie/2504

is all I could find, but from the nineties, when I started playing on BBS, telenetting all around the world, Macs where hardly jumpstarting anything, compuserve came about, and oters of the same kind, mac still had a tiny percentage.

So please give what is due to linux/unix and windows , and mores so, PCs

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really, yes

"when I started playing on BBS, telenetting all around the world, Macs where hardly jumpstarting anything, "

Then again, at the time neither was Win95.

You sum up the general publics perception of the internet at the time of the iMac as a place for geeks to hang out and overcomplicated for home users, unless you played in the walled gardens of AOL and Compuserve.

The iMac got everyone interested in the internet even if they didn't buy an Apple machine, although the fact you could literally be online within a minute of taking it out of the box made it so much simpler for home users to get online than trying to connect with Win95/98.

Whatever your opinion of Apple, the iMac did kick start the internet age for home users the same way the iPhone has kick started smartphone usage today. In both cases they weren't the first to market but thanks to Apples marketing they got people interested in the concept whether they buy Apple products or a rivals.

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Silver badge

iMac was nice with one serious flaw

I'm speaking about the mouse which was wretched. It's amazing for a company focused on usability that they make such lousy mice, the hockey puck mouse in the iMac was the worst by a large margin. Most of their other models suck badly too. I had a G4 which had a nicer oval shaped optical mouse with hidden button but it was still crap compared to any bog standard PC mouse.

The iMac was great in most other respects, demonstrating truly plug and play behaviour. I do think though that Apple went overboard once they started selling different colour fascias. That would be the point IMO they went transitioned from high quality niche kit to mass produced kit where quality took a backseat to style.

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