[ Retro Scan of the Week ] iMac G4 Memories

September 8th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Apple iMac G4 debut advertisement - 2002White on white. Amazing that it shows up.

On the eve of a potentially large and impactful reveal of new Apple products, I thought it an opportune time to take a look back at this now-12-year-old debut advertisement for the iMac G4. And to wax nostalgic about Apple product events.

The ad itself is clean, white, minimalistic, and so modern-feeling that I think it would work very well, unchanged, as a print advertisement today.

As for Apple product launches, I’ve been closely following them since the debut of the original iMac in 1998. (As an aside, I remember telling my dad to buy Apple’s stock when it was $14 a share in late 1997 — not long after Steve Jobs had returned to the company — and he scoffed at me.)

For the next five years after that first iMac launch, the excitement of unexpected new Apple products seemed to build relentlessly, each one seemingly trumping the last. There was the Power Mac G3 (blue and white), the iBook, the Power Mac G4 Cube, then, of course, the iPod (although nobody really knew what a big deal the iPod was at the time).

Then came the iMac G4, and I had to have one. Prior to that, I had last used a new Mac in 1987-88 with the Macintosh SE, but our family had been Windows-centric since then (today I use OS X, Windows, and Linux almost equally). After much pestering, I convinced my dad to loan me the cash to buy the high-end iMac G4 model with the 800 MHz CPU and the DVD-burning SuperDrive.

Unlike any machine before or since, it felt like I was buying a complete computing experience. Coupled with a newly revised version of OS X (10.1, I believe), it felt like a new era of computing was upon us. Keep in mind I was coming from the “must reinstall every year, crashes every 10 minutes” world of Windows 98.

The iMac G4 design turned heads; its release was truly a watershed event in Mac history that brought a lot of “switchers” from the Windows world. I showed that thing off to everyone, taking it into my dad’s office to demonstrate it to folks there, and I even invited my mailman (a confessed Mac fan, as I had learned from prior conversations) to come inside one day while he was dropping off a package to try it out.

I used that iMac daily for email, iChat, photo management, and web browsing until around 2006 when the already overtaxed machine couldn’t keep up with modern websites. Today, it sits proudly on a desk in my office, ready to be called to duty for whatever PowerPC-era Mac task I might throw at it.

By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about the iMac G4, I wrote an article about the machine — one of my personal favorites — for Macworld back in 2012.

[ From Esquire – June 2002, rear cover]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What new Apple product were you most excited about when you first heard of it?

8 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] iMac G4 Memories”

  1. Stan Says:

    In the 90s I was one of those (few) people fascinated by NeXTSTEP: A unix-based OS, a cohesive object-oriented app development environment (unlike Windows or Mac), and an innovative and complete desktop UI (unlike all other Unix-based systems, which were little more than window managers and widget toolkits, or lame Win95 ripoffs).

    So when Apple finally demoed OS X and its new Aqua UI it blew my mind. I also told my parents to buy Apple stock then, but they didn’t listen.

    I desperately wanted to get my hands on OS X, but it would still be a few years before I got to actually spend any time with it, and it wouldn’t be until 10.3 that I felt it was stable enough and fast enough for me to justify spending any money on some Mac hardware. But once I did I never looked back.

  2. Dennis Says:

    That’s a tough one — I’ve been an Apple fan for many years now, going back to high school and perhaps even a bit earlier. The original Mac was pretty exciting, even though I had *zero* chances of getting one since I was only 9 at the time. The IIgs was also pretty exciting, but there wasn’t much more of a chance of getting one of those at the time (we were pretty heavily invested in the Atari 8-bit line at the time).

    Later on, the first PowerBooks were pretty cool — I definitely wanted a PB100 when they first were announced. The Mac LC has the first Mac I had regular access to in school and the whole low-cost (if you could call $2500 a low-cost machine) aspect was attractive.

    Of course, the first iMac was pretty exciting. Strange, but cool, looking case, USB, built in CD drive, G3, all for $1299. If I hadn’t just purchased a Performa 6400 just a few years prior, I would’ve been in line for one of the first iMacs.

    Waiting for OS X 10.0 to come out seemed like an eternity. I bought an iMac DV just so I could have a machine that could run the Public Beta. Once 10.0 came out, I switched for good.

    Of course, there is the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad — all exciting products in their own ways. The original iPhone is probably the closest we’ve gotten recently to the original Mac introduction in terms of being such a radical shift. It’s tough to remember what phones were like before the iPhone now, just as it’s tough to remember what computers were like before the Mac.

  3. Juan Castro Says:

    Why oh WHY did they stop making that casing? It was GORGEOUS!

  4. Luis Mercado Says:

    Hard to say. I was very excited when the iPhone was announced. However my excitement was kept at bay because I knew I could hardly justify the cash at the time.

    I think I was more excited about the iPad and the Macbook Air, maybe more excited with the later. The Air was a marvel to see.

  5. Dar Says:

    Never seen this before.

    Very beautiful case, but I can see how it can be impractical. No extensions or any major interior changes, without ruining the stream-line look.

    Still a very good idea.

  6. Bill S Says:

    Not a fan. Thought it looked pretty silly. The local PC surplus store (which does a brisk trade in mac gear, too) generally won’t buy them 2nd hand since the monitor arm is usually busted – either the clutches that keep it “firm” or the wiring inside is shot.

  7. Jistuce Says:

    Is it possible to submit an anti-excitement?

    I remember well when Apple made the switch the Intel x86 processors.
    I’ve never been an Apple fan, but I respected that they were the last thing on the home market that wasn’t just another IBM clone. Long after everyone else had bailed out, they were still fighting the good fight.

    And then they quit making ACTUAL Macintoshes to make an IBM clone with an Apple sticker on the front.

    How is anyone with any interest at all in computing supposed to feel anything but a deep and profound sorrow at that?

  8. Andrew G. Says:

    I actually picked one of these up in an Ebay auction the other day for $16.99 and free shipping. It worked fine when I got it, but after I reinstalled the factory OS it’s extra snappy. I keep it in my garage and use it to watch flicks or youtube while I work out there. I think it’s a great looking little machine.

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