back to article The Cube: Apple's daftest, strangest romance

Ten years ago on Sunday, Apple called it quits on one of its oddest products ever, the G4 Cube. The Cube was a strange and wonderful machine that continues to fascinate today - but it was widely perceived to have failed. Some people thoroughly enjoyed the failure, thinking it served Apple right. Dull people will always cheer …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Here's to the crazy ones: I've still got mine

    admittedly with a 1.2GHz G4 on board and a tiny, very quiet fan in the base on the suspiciously convenient mounting brackets. It did have upgraded graphics but that card died, so it's back on the hilariously weak standard graphics. I can't remember how many times I've had it to pieces to tinker about with the guts.

    My power switch was never a problem after the last firmware update and the little bugger would chug along for weeks without shutting down or rebooting, often sitting all day rendering CG for me and then again all night when I slept, and I've only ever seen mould lines in the case.

    The worst moment I ever had with it was coming back from a overseas wedding with the intention of editing all the video footage, turning the mains back on and hearing ominous noises from the powerbrick as the capacitors decided to let all the smoke out, a situation handily saved by some guy in Hong Kong who was sitting on a stack of brand new ones for $120 apiece.

    The best bit: I got it for cheap at PC World, where they had no idea whatsoever how to sell it.

  2. Phil Atkin

    Cube

    Oh I loved my cube so much ...

  3. cloudgazer

    It wasn't totally a wasted experience

    A lot of what Apple learnt from fabricating the Cube went into the first couple of generations of iPod.

  4. Michael Souris

    As lovingly described in...

    ... William Gibson's 2003 novel Pattern Recognition.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    Good, thoughtful story

    Apple has a history of walking up to great design and then sabotaging it, or abandoning it, for a more pedestrian product - obviously commercially successful in that they have made a lot of money but they're making nothing today that gives you the "I want one of those" feelings that The Cube did - a great design (complete with the flaws that cutting edge designs will always have - go look at one of Frank Lloyd Wrights buildings if you doubt this) but technically The Cube was mediocre.

    Just think what it could be today . . .

    1. Thomas 4
      Coat

      Was it...

      ....your companion? Did you have to eventually incinerate it?

      Or was it one of those where you fed people into it to watch them get sliced, diced and otherwise horribly mutilated?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    apple = mainly styles and no substance

    it just go to show apple is just mainly styles with no substance

  7. Peter Kay

    I still think it looks like a wastebin

    Not a pretty wastebin, either. It was part of the horrid era when macs were plastic.

    I have a PowerMac Digital Audio and still don't like the look.

    On the other hand, if you mentioned the NeXT cube, or most of SGI's boxes I might be more interested.

  8. Andus McCoatover
    Coffee/keyboard

    Or like a millionaire had given a mad bloke on a bus an unlimited budget.

    I'm having trouble typing while I'm pissing myself laughing!

    That's the best I've ever, ever read on El Reg!

    Thanks!!!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Me too

    I too lament the passing of the forward thinking Apple. Gone are the days, not just of innovative design, but also crazy, beyond-the-horizon software. Apple feels safe now, and it has worked really well for them, but sometimes I just want them to come out with something too crazy too succeed and too powerful to be ignored.

  10. dilbert77
    Pint

    OK, the cube was great ...

    ... but not as great as the iMac G4, if you ask me. Now that was a piece truly awesome design - without any of the cube's flaws.

    Why did Apple abandon that design for the G5 and subsequent iMacs?

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge
      Trollface

      No style gimbo?

      So you look like Dwayne Dibbley i take it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      I always thought...

      It looked more like a tissue/Kleenex box.

      If they weren't so damn expensive I would have liked to have one way back in the day. To me, I always thought the cable management was the best part about it - on a desk that's not butted up against a wall it really did look nice sitting there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        I saw...

        ...a photo of a guy who actually *did* make a Cube into a Kleenex box.

        I agree with the author that those who attack bold but failed designs are short-sighted... but the Cube's engineering disasters (eg, the power switch) suggest Jobsian hubris: he make impossible demands of his engineers (aided by the reality distortion field) and the results are predictable.

        That's one thing on my 'Steve Jobs sucks because of' list; the other is his pathological lying about product specs and performance: Gamed or fabricated benchmarks, conveniently ignored qualifications to features, misrepresentations of the competition.

        The 'Steve Jobs rules because of' list, though, is also fairly comprehensive - rescuing Pixar and largely giving them the freedom to do what they wanted; helping keep excellent industrial design relevant; and generally being one ballsy-ass motherf*cker in launching first a phone (No way Apple can make a phone!) and then a tablet (Tablets have all failed!).

        The Cube, unfortunately, is not Apple at its best...

        Signed,

        Guy Whose Only Mac Is An LCII He Got Out Of Curiosity In 1997 And He Doesn't Even Know Where It Is Now Hmm

        1. david wilson

          @David W.

          >>"...and generally being one ballsy-ass motherf*cker in launching first a phone (No way Apple can make a phone!) and then a tablet (Tablets have all failed!)."

          I get your point, but tablets were one of those things whose time would have come eventually, as relevant technology improved (which it would have done with or without Apple).

          Apple does have an advantage in that the diehard fans can help a new product get started even if it's a bit premature and imperfect, as long as there are some cool features - compared to other companies, it's easier for it to get away with launching something a tiny bit early

          Sometimes there is significant innovation.

          Other times it looks like someone who sees where the cloud is coming from, takes a little stroll in that direction, and then comes running into the village at the head of a storm claiming that they just invented rain.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: I saw...

          “The 'Steve Jobs rules because of' list, though, is also fairly comprehensive - rescuing Pixar and largely giving them the freedom to do what they wanted…”

          Although it’s reported that Jobs did try to offload John Lasseter to various companies – the reason being that although Jobs was the boss, to Pixar employees, Lasseter was the beloved heart and soul of the company. Halfway through the making of Toy Story, when Jobs saw what Lasseter had come up with, he had a change of heart and embraced him like a son. One account of this is in Michael Malone’s Infinite Loop.

    3. Piro
      Thumb Down

      Absolutely agreed

      The lamp style iMac is still far more attractive than any of the newer "Thick monitor" looking ones.

    4. Ted
      Thumb Up

      G4 iMac Design

      Yes, the G4 iMac remains as one of Apple's best designs in their history, they still work well today. I still have about 35 of them running in client offices... but think the expense to build them was too much from a manufacturing standpoint. Plus the G5 burned too hot, so that half bubble design, with the surgical arm had to be abandoned.

      As I mentioned they work well, but even something like a failing hard drive (9 years out) is difficult to replace. If the screen goes, forget it... I've sold a few as "headless", like a Mac mini... kinda funny, but not really worth it.

  11. Jemma Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    ...Has it really been 10 years...

    That makes me feel old... but I remember when these came out and I was impressed at the time, like most other people - but most of the customers where I worked at the time were publishing houses and all around cambridge, so they werent brassic, but I dont think we saw a single one of these. I would have liked to pull one apart, but never got the opportunity.

    It also shows how stuck Apple have got, at least in the industrial design sense - if you look at the Cube and the current crop of Apple products they could have been designed and built at the same time - theres not really been any improvement in industrial design by Apple in all that time, whilst other companies have made massive strides forward with all sorts of new formats and interesting design decisions.

    To draw a parallel its almost as if Vauxhall was putting the innards of the Vectra in the body of the Mk.1 Cavalier and expecting it to sell (although to be fair... a 3.0 litre V6 Lotus Manta GT/E... i wouldnt say no).

    Innovation is a function of both design and software - and while arguably the iOS is one of the top tier - I fear its going to be counterbalanced by design that hasnt really advanced since the days of The Cube.

    1. Neill Mitchell

      Bingo!

      The inevitable Apple thread car analogy.

  12. Alan Bourke

    £120 lids

    is actually a steal.

  13. Jamie Kitson

    Mini ITX

    Thought it might make a good mini ITX case, and one google later:

    http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/g4pc/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      HTPC...

      I was thinking more like keeping the mac innards, but letting HTPC specialists solving its overheating and vibration issues with water cooling, and other tricks used in silent HTPC machines, but I like your attitude better.

      ...And "power" buttons from Samsung TVs. Mine takes solid 5 seconds with a full thumbprint on it before noticing any reaction. Then I go fetch the remote behind the sofa.

      PS: It still looks great as a fish tank. Hence the water cooling idea.

  14. John I'm only dancing

    iTunes Version 1

    This was based on SoundJam MP if my memory is good. I remember having a hack for iTunes which allowed it to run on a System 8.6 G3, even though it was only meant for OS9. The Cube was a brilliant concept, but as the author states, it was let down by the times and a couple of design flaws.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Top loader

    My favorite feature was the top-loading optical drive. Here was a physical design that almost demanded that you set your drink on top of it, closely followed by spilling your drink into the open slot.

  16. magnetik
    WTF?

    huh?

    "Even the iPad looks very much like how you'd expect a media slate to look like, for example."

    Eh? How else should it look? A triangular screen with a mini steering wheel sticking out the front for navigation? You may as well bemoan clipboard manufacturers for keeping to conventional rectangles.

  17. Alastair Dodd 1

    love the retro review

    and the fact the writer is a complete fanboy. I mean the Cube was a lovely idea and beautiful looking machine but technically it was bollocks. Amazed the writer has the spare cash to waste on 5(!!!) of these follies, did he also buy an Edsel perhaps? Goes to show that mac users tend to lead from their heart rather than their head.

  18. Matthew Malthouse
    Joke

    You've got to be

    "Mac Mini. ... aimed at the budget buyer"

    <- There, right icon for that line.

    Um... no one mention the bottom to top passive venting so you could stack them... or was that a myth?

  19. Matt Brigden

    I once saw

    A room containing 15 cubes die one after the other out in Cannes due to heat failure so the high tech chimney wasnt their best idea to date . Was an Apple training course for the old ACSE . Was around the time the first raft of OSX appeared .

  20. Cazzo Enorme

    Jobs and cubes

    The roll necked sweater wearing ones obsession with cubes caused big problems for NeXT - cases wouldn't come out of the punches easily, and broken ones littered the factory floor. The engineers had warned Jobs of this, pointing out that the case needed to be slightly tapered to come out of the punch, but he insisted it had to be a perfect cube. As for the Apple G4 cube, a colleague had one, but the perspex case split due to overheating.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re Jemma

    quote

    whilst other companies have made massive strides forward with all sorts of new formats and interesting design decisions.

    Yeah

    like widescreen Tables which are useless in Portrait forma

    like this fad for glossy screens which reflect like mirrors

    like Windows 7 that does and auto reboot 'To Apply Patches' only to do the whole thing again as soon as it starts up!

    If you study industrial design you will see lots of thing released where 1) the market is not ready for it or 2) the actual concepts are brilliant but the materials or manufacturing process are not really up to the job or 3) The ide was totally silly in the first place

    Some examples

    -the original Mini having Joe Lucas Electrics and the distributor placed right between the engine and radiator where it it sure to get wet

    -The Edsel or in the UK, The Austin Allegro

    -Brunel's Broad Gauge

    -1930's Airships using H instead of He.

    - 1950's Ford Prefects starter motor refusing to disengage. 'Hit it with a hammer lad' fixed it.

    There are many more I am sure.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: love the retro review

      Well, I have HAD five Cubes but all sequentially: two of those never even powered up, and the third spluttered for a few weeks before it had to be returned.

      So I've never had more than one concurrently- the last cost me about £60.

      I'll rephrase to make myself look a bit less tragic.

    2. Jemma Silver badge
      Facepalm

      The joy of missed points.

      The All-aggro may not have been a success - but as a design it used alot of unusual and new ideas.. such as the hydrogas/hydrolastic suspension system for a start. It also used new ways of panel forming, which didnt quite work properly, hence the slightly weird shape. As designed it was a very interesting and attractive car, but welcome to the compromises.

      Brunels broad gauge: again it lost the battle - but it was more sensible and more advanced, and much more fit for purpose than the narrow gauge crap we have now... the thing that killed it was the requirement for more space @ therefore more cost per mile. It rode smoother, it put less stress on the prime mover, and it hammered the rails less... but as usual the bosses didnt want to pay for the best... when all they were doing was cattle trucking the plebs..

      FORD: Fix Or Repair Daily... enough said - but pretty much every starter motor using that system (sliding gear) has that issue - mini, sceptre, fords and all the rest. Try beating the crap out of the starter on a 4-Litre-R at 3am in the rain and you'll understand the meaning of bad days.

      And the Edsel... aka 'the flying fanny' etc etc. For its day it was advanced and had good performance... however the styling left a little to be desired. Press button automatic transmission was one of the higher points.

      I dont think you have understood the meaning of industrial design - it refers to the physical design of the product, not the OS.

      I have seen touchcreen phones with TV built in, multisim units running android, winmo 6.5 (which is still a perfectly capable smartphone OS), spin-hinge QWERTY, tablet conversion phones. And woo hoo Apple manages a slab with a touch screen, im sure their design department stretched themselves.

      I am still using a Nokia E70 from 2006 as my main phone. It does opera mini, gmail sync, IM, video, music and everything I need (and believe me, my phone gets more use than my laptop for everything bar banking) its rock stable, and has the best QWERTY on a phone I have ever used and I have used a fair number of them.

      I loathe touchscreens, with the proviso that QWERTY plus touchscreen is a good approach.

      I loathe the idea that I have to pay £500 sim unlocked for a phone that does the same or less than something I can get for £100. The only improvement that has been made with smartphones since 2006 is the induhvidual-friendly UI's, and even most of those are rip-offs of freeware ideas that have been around for years.

      But you know what I hate most? Its nerks who spend a small fortune on a phone with a dual core processor... and then winge about the battery life.. when if they werent a fashion-slut they could buy a smartphone thats just as capable, £400 cheaper, more secure, had TV-OUT in 2006 and has a 4 DAY average battery life, and then act like a member of the spanish inquisition when you mention the fact that your 6 year old phone doesnt drop calls and die after 20 minutes..

      1. Dapprman

        A Blade Runner Moment

        "I have seen touchcreen phones with TV built in, multisim units running android, winmo 6.5 (which is still a perfectly capable smartphone OS), spin-hinge QWERTY, tablet conversion phones. And woo hoo Apple manages a slab with a touch screen, im sure their design department stretched themselves."

        Don't ask me why but for some reason I had Rutger Haur reading these lines to me. Time to ... go home for the weekend

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Hey...

      ...the Edsel got a bad rap! Technically it was quite good, but good luck selling a car with an enormous vagina on the front. Actually it was rather the opposite of the Cube in that respect.

      The decision to try to use a new dealer network was ill-conceived; it created market confusion in a time when low/middle/high price segments were extremely important, and resulted in pushback from dealers forced to handle a new marque.

      Aaaaanyway...

      Also, there's nothing intrinsically wrong if you lead from your heart. It works quite well for musicians and artists. The fact that it doesn't play so well for the IT types who frequent this cesspo^H^H^H^H^H^Hlovely forum is neither here nor there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        As opposed to

        BMWs where the enormous vagina is normally behind the wheel

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Joke

          Post as “David W.”.

          Q: What's the difference between a porcupine and a BMW?

          A: With the porcupine, the prick is on the *outside*.

          Signed,

          Saab Driver

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Suggesions:

      How should it look? Probably just as it is, but "how could it look" is a much more relevant and interesting question.

      As a couple of options, it could fold open like a book to reveal a seamless display. This would provide a workspace twice the size of the slate style pad, but would fit in the same space when you're carrying it around. (Also cut down on scratches on the screen.)

      Or the bottom edge could be curved. Then that would make a natural space for an inverted OS X style dock.

      Perhaps, it could have some space for simple gadgets on the back, a la Windows SideShow. Then the user could set certain information to be readily available by simply flipping the slate over. Would make for easy access to a clock or weather predictions without having to stop what you're doing on the main screen.

      There are lots of things they could've tried, but they went with something simple and minimalistic. Most of them would've been crazy (option 3) and shouldn't have been produced, but some of them could've actually been worth at least testing.

      "A triangular screen with a mini steering wheel sticking out the front for navigation?"

      You do know this is the company that gave us the click wheel on iPods, right? Lots of similarity to using a steering wheel for navigation there...

  22. Alan 6

    Title

    A friend was on design course in 2001 and the college had just splashed out on loads of G4 cubes, but they couldn't spring for the full monty model, so the G4s were sans Radeon card.

    This meant that running Maya 3D was like swimming through treacle. The desks were also laid out so that one cube sucked in the hot air from the cube next to it, so over heating was an issue.

    Having said that, it was a wonderful looking piece of kit...

  23. Chris Watson 2

    1.21 jigawatts

    "...and you'll be stuck with a Parallel ATA drive that needs special drivers for drives larger than 120MB." GB maybe? It's not that old.

  24. Bruce Hoult

    A machine with no purpose.

    I loved the idea of the Cube, but hated the price. $1799? Ridiculous! The Mac Mini might not have been quite so pretty, but at $499 it actually felt like a bargain.

  25. Joao Pereira
    Coat

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "It should never have been made - we should be glad it was.", that's my opinion also.

    I worked at an Apple certified repair centre at the time, and I have a vivid memory of applying duct tape around the on/off sensor base to reduce sensibility on all the cubes that would inevitably return because of some sort of problem.It was funny how some cubes would boot up just by turning the room lights on.

    Also, may I say, that was some gorgeous piece of kit!

    nuf said

    Mine's the one with the duct tape in the pocket.

  26. jai

    still got mine!!

    not using it though, it's an ornament that the missus wants me to get rid of. but it's staying, along with my MacPlus and angle poise G4 imac.

    i swapped out the processor on my Cube with an OWC replacement. brought the performance right up to date at the time. shame, in a way, that they switched to Intel and there wasn't an way to make the Cube an Intel machine

    the price was ridiculous, but then again, there was nothing else like it at the time.

    and it definately wasn't style over substance. it was style AND substance.

  27. david 63

    At least is didn't light up blue...

    ...like all my pc enclosures seem to when they arrive...

  28. David Kelly 2

    LCD not LED

    "The new marvel was launched alongside three new matching monitors, two LED and one CRT..."

    As advanced as Apple is, I don't believe they were shipping LED-backlit monitors 10+ years ago.

    I ran a 17" Apple Studio LCD on my MDD G4 which while the monitor's performance numbers were not up to 3rd party monitors half its price, side by side the Apple Studio was always easier to read. Also liked the all-in-one cable where video, USB, and power all came on the same connector, including the on/off switch.

  29. Rob - Denmark
    WTF?

    What?

    "After July 2001, Apple's design team never again attempted anything as daring or distinctive."

    I beg to differ: That about the iMac/G4/'iLamp'?

  30. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Well now if they could only teach the writer some basic technology skills

    The graphics card obviously had 32 Megabytes not Gigabytes.

    Maybe the cube was the end of the time when people actually had computers on their desks. I mean back then people slowly started abandoning optical media in favour of harddisk and digital transfer of data.

  31. John 104
    Coat

    Sick Sick Sick

    Your last few paragraphs sum up the average Apple user nicely. First one DOA, 2nd one broken just a few weeks later after a long wait, 3rd time the charm. Would any sane person put up with this for ANY other consumer device? Doubtful...

    Mines the one with the K7 motherboard in the pocket....

    1. Ted Treen
      Flame

      Poor old John 104

      "...average Apple user..."

      Pure sophism - or, as the 'average PC user' would more likely say, utter bollocks.

      I've had four new Macs (Beige G3, Sawtooth G4, G5 Tower, and recently an 8-core MacPro) in the last 13 years, got my first iPhone 3 months ago, and have had nary a problem. My 6-yr old G5 tower is still in daily use and is a damned sight more usable than any 6-yr old PC would be...

  32. SML49

    Cube still ticking along 24/7/365

    Running a CrushFTP server, a shared Filemaker Pro 10 solution and hosting a shared color inkjet. Stock 500 mhz Cube, 1 gig RAM running Leopard 10.5.8. Rock solid. No quirks. No spontaneous shutdowns. Reboot only when updating software. Has been up for at least 3 years straight now. Put tiny rubber feet under it to deal with the vibrations of the drive being transmitted to the desk surface. Acquired used because I always wanted one. No regrets - it's producing value every day.

  33. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Not a hater, but this thing merely throws the form-over-function silliness that pervades some of the Apple product line into harsh relief alongside the G4 CRT monitor stand and the lack of a separate volume control on my iPod.

    I remember at the time being perplexed as to why anyone would buy a machine that late in the game without a burner.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The still looks cool and modern...

    ... but it's amazing how dated the peripherals look in the video!

    It was only 10 years back, I recall the time well - everything 'chic' in the computer hardware world suddenly had to be see-thru plastic.

    The horrible fact was, they didn't age well at all - ending up looking really cruddy and cheap after only a few months. The plastic was, to all intents and purposes, a forerunner to the now legendary 'scratch attractor' metallic backs of iphones & ipods. No matter how careful you are, it gets scratched, which ruins the effect.

    At the time, however, the vast majority of PC's were ugly beige workhorses best hidden under the desk, embarrassing structures, usually missing a few plastic covers off the front and more often than not, grime infested.

    By comparison, I guess the scratched tawdry looking see-thru telly-tubby plastic was a dramatic improvement.

    Ah, memories...

  35. alwarming
    Go

    Hint of a cube lives on...

    See the iDevice chargers.

  36. easyk

    I thought it was stupid then

    and I have not changed my mind. I learned in injuneering skool that Macs are for are for english majors and have just abaout as much to do with technology as english majors.

    1. Goat Jam
      Joke

      English majors

      At least english majors are able are able to write a coherent sentence! *

      * Sorry, no offense intended but it had to be done, see icon

  37. Oninoshiko
    WTF?

    How can anyone NOT look at the cube as a failure?

    It was a bloody toaster that didn't make toast, it had a dodgy power-button that made it pop on and off a random, and the thermal issues caused cracks to develop in the over-designed and under engineered case.

    It wasn't even dependable, of the author's five, three lasted less then a few weeks!

    Beauty is when form follows function, every line and curve present because it needs to be. The cube represents the height of Apple's frivolous opulence, and was an abomination. Over priced and under engineered.

  38. angled

    importance to linux/ppc

    paulus had an apple cube: http://lkml.org/lkml/2001/7/6/180

  39. raving angry loony

    silent

    even today the idea of a "quiet computer" hasn't really caught on. Folks keep comparing, for instance, the iMac to a standard Dell box, then fail to assign ANY value to the fact the iMac is QUIET.

    The cube was cool. And quiet. A good combination.

  40. Paul Vail

    Mine still works

    Bought mine when CompUSA discontinued them -- got the display model with the 15" screen. Upgraded to 1.5Gb RAM, tried the larger hard drives -- went back to a 5400 rpm 120Gb, and added a quiet fan to the bracket clearly designed for one. OS 10.4.11 -- runs as the house media server as well as general browsing. With the likes of Appleworks, MS Office 2004, Starcraft, Photoshop 7 and more, it's got plenty of workstation life left in the old thing. Tell me, is MS Office 11 making you more productive than Office X or 98? Does that new Quicken do more for you than Quicken 98 or 2007? Has the content of the Internet improved -- or declined -- in a decade. Surely music hasn't improved. So I don't get the foolish tripe drawn out every discussion about how things are better. The Cube is as good as any modern computer in terms of what most all of us do with them. I look to having this box live another 10 years. Tell me how many other computers are doing daily service 10 years on.

  41. peter 62
    Gimp

    loved mine

    it was as tricked-out as i could go without bending the case: the 32mb graphics card, 1.5GB RAM and a 1.4GHz powerlogix processor upgrade. it lasted me from christmas 2000 through to may 2009, when i finally bought an imac to replace it, and handed the old girl over to mum & dad to write emails on. 9 years of useable service is not too bad, even for an expensive initial outlay.

    it's a shame it didn't quite get some of the advances apple made soon after: integrated bluetooth & better wifi to make it almost completely cable-less, for example. i'm sure that was in jobs' original plan.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cube - from whence?

    Some years before the cube was released Apple stopped the production of pizza box macs - my own was an LC 630 which I liked a lot, inc. the TV function. So the only option then was a tower, the design of which I greatly dislike.

    So I emailed Apple asking them to bring back the pizza box - the main benefits being that it takes up effectively zero space, sitting under the monitor, (space being at a premium in many markets such as Asia), and actually has a benefit there as it raises the monitor to a better viewing height for most. I think I also said that if Apple could provide the computing functionality without any hardware that would be great.

    When the cube was released in Taiwan I attended the function - it was presented by a Vietnamese gentleman by the name of Ng - and he appeared to quote from my email as being a source of inspiration for the cube.

    Of course, Apple is absolutely forbidden by it's lawyers to say 'thank you' for any suggestions.

    Had they been able to, the nice single address/search bar on the top of Chrome might have been a Safari feature for a long time already. And other features for Macs & iPhones, some forgotten already.

    Let's NOT 'hear it' for Apples lawyers.

  43. nphsmith

    Start of my hate-hate relationship with Apple

    It was the first Apple I ever owned. Everyone was telling me about how reliable, easy to use these things were (And no BSOD), and it was surely beautiful. I bought it along with a set of futuristic transparent speakers. I got it out of the box, and I loved it.

    Then I made the mistake of switching the damn thing on. Vibrating desk, check. Stupid power-switch, check. No BSOD, check. It just froze solid after about 15 minutes use. I took it out of the case, and that improved things to the point it would manage 30 minutes.

    I think it's still in the attic - I couldn't bring myself to throw this beautiful, useless, piece of junk away.

    The cube had the advantage of revealing it's inadequacies more or less straight away.Every 3 or 4 years I fall again for the "Apple is reliable, easy" line, and buy something physically beautiful but useless for my needs, and throw it in the attic after a few months.

  44. Nick Pettefar

    Mac Mini Cube

    I love my Mac Mini, the looks, performance and the size. OK it may not be as ground-breaking as the Cube but it is fast (enough) and generally very quiet and of course very small. People are often looking for the computer, wondering what connects the 24" display, Magic mouse and ally keyboard together. I expect someone has already put a Mac Mini innard inside a Cube...

  45. Inspector71
    Thumb Up

    Me as well...

    I seem to remember that at one point it seemed as if you couldn't go into an ad agency or pr firm reception in Central London without seeing one sitting on the receptionists desk. ( not always switched on if I recall)

    Have to agree that the Cube was Apple's last bonkers product. Possibly the best looking computer they ever made but the price was eyewatering even for us zombie fanbois. Didn't stop me getting about 5 of them over the years all refurb or secondhand. Taken most of them apart several dozen times and upgraded/rebuilt them. Gave one to Mum and Dad who now wonder why all other computers don't look like their one. My one remaining cube with dual 1.6 GHz 7448 cpus, 500GB HD and 23" Cinema Display is quite possibly my favourite ever computer and still a bloody good machine.

    Come on Apple, less of the cool evolutionary products, let's have another WTF product in the vein of the Cube (and indeed the 20th Anniversary Mac)

  46. Michael Habel Silver badge
    FAIL

    Don't know if its been mentioned already, but...

    "Users though, expecting the first version of Mac OS X to drop at any moment, clamoured for the model with the more powerful **ATI Radeon 32GB VRAM** graphics card - which did have a fan, and a fairly audible one".

    Now I know that the likes of nVidia as well as AMD/ATi, just love to pile on insane amounts or RAM onto their Cards, but really a WHOLE 32GiB's of VRAM in 2004? in a time when most Cards only had 32Mb MAX on em. Heck the most VRAM (I believe they call it GDDRx these Days though), I've seen post 2004 was around 2048Mb (Or only 2Gib) of VRAM on-board.

    It's not much to wonder that all that VRAM needed some proper cooling then.

    But I can not leave the age old question alone...

    With its 32Gib's or VRAM Can it run Crysis?!

  47. David Cantrell
    Angel

    Pointless title, which must contain letters and/or digits.

    My Cube gave me ten years of almost flawless service (I had to replace the power brick once), first as my desktop for a few years, and then several more as my home file server, with several TB of firewire disks attached. Lovely machine. I only got rid of it, replacing it a few months ago with a Mac Mini, when the internal disk died.

  48. Jonjonz
    Trollface

    FANBOIS ARE WRONG AS USUAL

    Crapple stole the whole transparent liquid look from Windows friends. That whole design concept had been floating around for YEARS before as 3rd party Windows skins. Any tool can did up that prior art. Mr Snakeoil was a master at stealing the work of others and making the big lie that crapple invented it. Fanbois lap it up.

  49. Jonjonz
    Boffin

    2nd Hand Fischer Price Design

    I laugh at the posers here so desparate to be seen as cool that they fall for this 2nd hand Fisher Price cheap transparent plastic look. Thats for babies, and toddlers. Yes fanboies love to suck on that crapple transparent pacifier.

  50. The New Turtle
    FAIL

    I'd have loved one at the time

    except it was overpriced by a factor of at least 2.5.

    If you could re-create one with a recent mini MoBo now, running something like Sabayon 6 or Fedora 15 it would be really cool, but the price would need to be about £300.

    Fail because they sodded up something that should have been good.

  51. Michael Strorm

    What's all the fuss?

    Am I the only person here who *doesn't* think that the Cube was especially radical looking?

    And yeah, I did see photos of it at the time, so I can judge it in context. It honestly didn't occur to me that it would be that big a deal until I read this article. I mean, sure, it was less conservative than a beige PC tower case, but what wasn't?

    FWIW, I saw one of these things recently, and the plastic definitely *had* aged badly, being discoloured and cracked, but it was still Fisher Price-ish even when new.

  52. SML49
    Alert

    I have to wonder...

    ...how it is that so many posters here claim everything they buy from Apple is (1) DOA or (2) dead shortly after or (3) unsuitable for their needs or (4) falls apart. It's absurd. My extended family has had a slew of Macs since 1988 of which 10 are still in daily use including my Cube which runs 24/7 and a host of others from brand new to up to 12 years old. All are functional, none have degenerated, none turn themselves on and off at random, all look fresh. There's even a PB 1400 with a G3 upgrade, purchased in 1996 that works just fine on those rare occasions when it's brought out to run some piece of antique software. I remember seeing the Cube for the first time at Macworld in NY and decided I wanted one. Couldn't justify a new machine right then having bought a B&W G3 (still running) the year before but I'm glad I grabbed one off Craigslist years later.

    1. Nick Fisher
      Thumb Up

      I agree

      I had 10 years fault-free service from my PowerMac G4. My Intel iMacs have likewise performed faultlessly.

  53. Z80
    Flame

    Hot stuff

    There's one of these knocking around here at work for the purpose of running a Mac OS Classic-only scientific app that the boffins tell me has no cheap modern equivalent. Ours also has a post-it stuck to it reminding people not to cover the vent.

    The heatsink on the passively-cooled graphics card can get rather hot as I know to my cost.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Love the cube

    I worked for Applecare Engineering when the Cube was released, it was one of my product responsibilities. The power switch issue ended up being a big fuss about a small issue that was obviously discovered after production started, and the fix was simple enough (and had nothing to do with the electronics itself, but rather certain frame tolerances). Unfortunately it was marketed badly and over priced from the start, and lack of any real upgrade in 2001 really nailed down the coffin lid (and sales).

    I believe I was one of the first (outside the core engineering team) to actually upgrade em by modding some PowerMac dual CPU's and upgraded one of our test rigs, later showing others how to do it. In any case I still own four of them (and one for spares), three upgraded well beyond their initial capacity (they are easy to upgrade and mine are quiet)... :D

    I cant help it, I still love em (even if they dont get used nearly as much as my newer Macs and PC's).....

  55. tom 24
    Pint

    You'll dance to anything...

    "Dull people will always cheer a bold experiment that goes wrong."

    Hey, I'll cheer for anything that delivers a change from the tedium of daily life. :) And I like a cool concept, especially when it's doomed. So of course I liked the cube. But, of course, I didn't buy one. Duh!

    I wouldn't say I'm dull, exactly; I'm just getting an early start on the weekend. This round's on me!

  56. Glenn Amspaugh

    Cube case use

    After frying my cube trying to reposition power board (plugged in backwards the modified scsi cable used for power) I still couldn't get rid of cube. Just looks too cool. Finally, I went and mounted a G4 Mac mini in there. Now that the G4 is getting a bit long of tooth and new Mac mini's are a bit larger, am thinking it's time for fish tank duties.

  57. Your Retarded
    Happy

    "essential design conceit"

    A most apt typo for an article about overstyled Apple products, methinks.

  58. Your Retarded
    WTF?

    Apple store in the picture

    Is it just me or does it seem that this "store" doesn't really store very much, well apart from a volume of air maybe?

  59. Your Retarded
    WTF?

    "alongside three new matching monitors, two LED and one CRT"

    I'm confused. I'm pretty sure LED backlights for displays were not available in 2001.

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