iMac Turns Ten

August 15th, 2008 by Benj Edwards

iMac Turns Ten

Ten years ago today, Apple released the first iMac, a “Bondi blue” gumdrop PC that shook up the desktop computer world. On that day — August 15th, 1998 — I made a pilgrimage across town to CompUSA to check out the revolutionary machine in person. I was quite impressed, to say the least, and I salivated over the iMac line until I finally bought one of the new iMac G4s in 2002. I haven’t upgraded to a newer iMac model since then (I’m effectively still in debt from the last one!) but boy, would I, if I had the chance.

To celebrate this anniversary, I wrote two articles on the subject for two different publications. First up is a nifty gallery of iMac models through the years on Wired News (note: I’m not responsible for slides #11 and 12). The second piece is an analysis for Macworld entitled, “Eight Ways the iMac Changed Computing.” I hope you enjoy them.

It’s amazing that the iMac was released a decade ago. That means it’s slipping into decidedly vintage territory. So welcome, iMac, to the ranks of vintage computers. I suspect that this won’t be the last VC&G will see of them.

15 Responses to “iMac Turns Ten”

  1. Esteban Says:

    Now I feel like an old-timer…

    The Bondi Blue iMac was the first computer that was truly my own. As I kid, I had a Tandy 1000HX, an IBM XT that we upgraded to a 386 with Windows 3.1, and a Performa 6200. These were all great computers, but I had to share them with my sister. Then, when I went off to college, my parents bought me an iMac for my dormroom. I was the only guy on my floor with a Mac, and in the days before iPods, that was decidedly uncool.

    That said, there were several things I didn’t like about my iMac. With no floppy drive, no CD-R drive, and pokey USB 1.1 ports, it was damn near impossible to transfer files from my old Performa, and it was even harder to transfer them to my next computer. Also, the case was deceptive, it looked light and portable, but it was heavy as hell. Finally, the computer came with a mere 32MB of RAM, which even then was skimpy. I eventually added a 128MB chip, which sped things up considerably.

  2. Psittacine Says:

    Sounds a lot like my iMac experience. It was the first computer I ever purchased on my own. I’d originally planned to buy an old Mac IIci or IIsi from want ads in the newspaper. I saw an article about the iMac in a magazine (I actually still have the magazine) and saw the price. I actually got a job bagging groceries just so I could purchase the thing.

    I remember the 32MB of RAM. I ended up with a total of 96MB in mine after upgrading it. Seemed pretty good since the only other Mac in the house was a Performa (Quadra) 636 with even less memory. Plus, I’d been using a IIgs with 1MB of RAM, so it felt pretty impressive to me.

    Although I no longer have my iMac, I really have fond memories of it. I used to play the Mac port of Total Annihilation on it. Loved that game, plus it convinced me me that I needed to go to college (Who’d expect that from a game?).

  3. SirPaul Says:

    I got my first iMac (a DV/SE) a few months back. The problem was, it didn’t come with a keyboard or mouse, and I actually thought that even now, all macs have ADB ports, and I could use the keyboard and mouse from my IIgs on it. A few weeks of searching, I found a cheap USB keyboard (actually, an iMac keyboard, the same color as my iMac), and it was easy for me to find a cheap USB optical mouse. I still have the system on the desk next to me, next to the IIGS, and a bunch of my other computers. It only has 9.1 on it, and I think it only has 64 megs of ram (I haven’t powered it up in a while).

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    SirPaul, if your iMac has a DVD-ROM drive in it, you can install OS X Tiger, which is what I did on a few of my iMac G3s. It actually runs surprisingly well if you have a lot of RAM (I have 512MB of RAM in one, which is a lot for a 400 MHz iMac G3). Best of all, you can use them as super-stable *nix-boxes with cool GUIs. I used one of mine as a back up rsync file server for a few years.

  5. SirPaul Says:

    Yeah, it does have a DVD-ROM drive in it. The only problem is, I cannot afford OS X at the moment, and I definitely do not want to take money away from Apple and download it via bittorrent. When I get the money, I will get OS X as well as a decent RAM upgrade.

  6. Kitsunexus Says:

    I remember the magazine article, and I fell in love with these, but never broke down and bought one.

  7. Jim Ulrich Says:

    No mention of the infamous “puck” mouse? That was the most uncomfortable mouse I’ve ever used.

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t have the room to go into detail. Most people don’t realize that it’s hard to describe everything in captions of 100 words or less. 🙂

    But I agree with you, Jim. That puck mouse was atrocious.

  9. Kitsunexus Says:

    I liked the puck. It was like a little hand. 🙁

  10. Geoff V. Says:

    Liking the puck is attune to having your eyeball pierced; it may look cool, but it hurts every time you move it.

  11. Esteban Says:

    Oh yes. I forgot all about the puck mouse. Probably because, after a month or so, I went out and got a replacement.

  12. Bill Terlop Says:

    maybe you remember the pc that was released and looked exactly like this. I still own 2 of them…everyone thought they were Macs but were actually pc’s. I used them for point of sale machines….I think the stock operating system was windows 98…or 95..havent hooked them up in a while but both are still in my garage…

  13. Brian Deuel Says:

    I just went and snagged a rev a Bonid Blue locally for $40 in mint condition. I picked it up as a collectors piece, as I think someday it’ll be worth something, just like the original 128k Mac is. This makes Mac #6 in my household, next to the 1.8ghz upgraded G4, 2- Wallstreet Powerbooks, my Pismo Powerbook, and my iMac DV.

  14. Brian Deuel Says:

    @Bill Terlap:Do you have the eOne, or the Future Power machines? These were the two “clones” of the iMac (in looks only) that Apple Legal shut down back in the early 00s.

  15. Kitsunexus Says:

    If the UPS guy pulls through, then I just got one of these! :3

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