History Apple Computers IBM Compatible Workstations    

History of Apple Computers:


In 1976 the Apple I was Steven Wozniak's first contribution to the personal computer market. It was designed over a period of years and was only available in printed circuit-board form when Steve Jobs insisted it could be sold. The Apple I was based on the MOStek 6502 chip, whereas most other "kit" computers were built from the Intel 8080. The Apple I was sold only as a circuit board, a tape-interface was sold separately, but the user had to build the case. The Apple I's initial cost was $666.66

Built in 1977, the Apple II was based on Wozniak's Apple I design, but with several additions. The first was the design of a plastic case - a rarity at the time - which was painted beige. The second was the ability to display colour graphics. The Apple II also included a larger ROM and 8 expansion slots. It had integer BASIC hard-coded on the ROM for easier programming it included two game paddles and a demo cassette. In early 1978 Apple also released a disk drive for the machine, one of the most inexpensive available.

Essentially an extension of the Apple II, the Apple II Plus came with 48K RAM, and a new auto-start ROM for easier start-up and screen editing. It also included a new type of Basic in the ROM - a floating point version written by a new company called Microsoft. It was released in June 1978 and retailed for $1,195. The IIplus was sold in Europe as the IIeuroplus, which could display video in European PAL format, and had ESC sequences for European letters.

The Apple III was announced in June 1980. It contained a Synertek 8-bit 6502A processor which could run at speeds up to 2 MHz. It contained 128K of RAM and a 4K ROM. It could run most Apple II programs through emulation, and came with a sophisticated new operating system. It was the first Apple to include a built-in 5.25" disk drive, and high resolution graphics built-in to the motherboard. The original Apple III had many problems, and was replaced by a revised model in mid 1981, which featured 256K RAM, updated system software. A 5 MB external hard disk was also made available. The Apple III sold very poorly and was replaced by the Apple IIIplus in late 1983 and was discontinued in 1985.

Released in January 1983, The Apple IIe was to become one of the most successful Apple computers. It was based on the 6502 processor, which could run at 1.02 Mhz. It came with 64K of RAM and a 32K ROM which included BASIC, an assembly language interface, and several other hard-coded options.

Named for one of its designer's daughters, the Apple Lisa was the first personal computer to use a Graphical User Interface. Aimed mainly at large businesses, Apple said the Lisa would increase productivity by making computers easier to work with. The Lisa had a Motorola 68000 Processor running at 5 Mhz, 1 MB of RAM two 5.25" 871 kB floppy drives, an external 5 MB hard drive, and a built in 12" 720 x 360 monochrome monitor, it cost $9,995. When the Macintosh came out in 1984 for less money, the Lisas became less wanted. Apple then released the Lisa 2 at the same time as the Mac. The Lisa 2 cost half as much as the original, replaced the two 5.25" drives with a single 400 kB 3.5" drive, and offered configurations with up to 2 MB of RAM, and a 10 MB hard drive.

The GUI (Graphical User Interface) had its roots in the 1950s it was not developed until the 1970s when a group at the PARC (Xerox Palo Alto Research Center) developed the Alto, a GUI-based computer. The Alto was the size of a large desk, and Xerox believed it unmarketable. Jobs visited PARC in 1979, and saw the future of personal computing in the Alto. Although much of the Interface of both the Lisa and the Mac was based (at least intellectually) heavily on the work done at PARC, much of the Mac OS was written before Job's visit to PARC. When Jobs accused Bill Gates of Microsoft of stealing the GUI from Apple and using it in Windows 1.0, Gates replied: "No, Steve, I think its more like we both have a rich neighbour named Xerox, and you broke in to steal the TV set, and you found out I'd been there first, and you said. "Hey that's not fair! I wanted to steal the TV set!" The fact that both Apple and Microsoft had got the idea of the GUI from Xerox went against Apple's lawsuit against Microsoft over the GUI several years later. Although much of The Mac OS is original, it was similar enough to the old Alto GUI to make a suit against Microsoft dubious.

Released with much fanfare in January 1984, the Macintosh was the first affordable computer to include a Graphical User Interface. It was built around the new Motorola 68000 chip, which was significantly faster than previous processors, running at 8 MHz. The Mac came in a small beige case with a black and white monitor built in. It had a keyboard and mouse and had a floppy drive that took 400 kB 3.5" disks - the first personal computer to do so.

Announced in January 1986, the Mac Plus was the answer to complaints that the original Mac was not expandable. It doubled the ROM of the 512k from 64 kB to 128 kB, and increased the RAM to 1 MB. It was the first Mac to include a SCSI port, allowing for a variety of external peripherals.

Introduced in April 1986, the Apple 512ke included an 800 kB floppy drive, and a 128k ROM, but was in all other respects identical to the 512k.

Introduced in March 1987, The Mac II was the ultimate expandable Mac. Based on the new 68020 processor, the Mac II was the first 32-bit Mac. The Mac II included 6 Nubus slots, which allowed for a number of different Apple and Third Part expansion cards. The Mac II was the first Mac with color capabilities--a graphics card could be installed capable of handling up to 16.7 million colors! It originally sold for $3,898 for the basic system, and at $5,498 for 1 MB of RAM, one 800K floppy disk drive and one 40 MB internal SCSI hard disk drive.

The Mac IIci was a faster version of the IIcx, and one of the more popular Macs ever. It was the first Mac to have built in color video circuitry, and the first Mac with 32-bit clean ROMs.

Announced in September 1989, The Mac Portable was Apple's first attempt at a more easily portable Macintosh. It had a bay for a 3.5" half-height drive, and could support up to two Super Drives.

Released in October 1990, the Mac LC was named for its low cost. It was aimed at the home market, and included a 16 Mhz 68020 processor. It shipped inside a newly designed small case and was one of the first Macs to come bundled with a microphone.

The Quadra 700 was powered by a 25 Mhz 68040 processor, which included an FPU. It was the first in a new family of Macs, and was the first Mac to ship in a tower case (a IIcx case on its side, with the label rotated 90 degrees). The Quadra 700 was priced at $6,000.

The first of Apple's truly portable Mac's, the PowerBook 100 had basically the same processor as the old Mac Portable. The PowerBook 100 was released alongside the 140 and the 170. While these two models were based on the same motherboard, the 100 had a more simple motherboard design, and was desiged and manufactured by Sony for Apple.

Introduced in October 1991, The PowerBook 140 was a 68030 (16 MHz) counterpart to the PowerBook 100. It also included an internal floppy drive, a feature that the 100 lacked.

When it was released in October 1991, the PowerBook 170 was the premier PowerBook. The first PowerBook to include an active-matrix screen, the 170 also contained a slot for an optional internal modem, making it a truly mobile office computer.

Introduced in October 1992, the PowerBook 160 is distinctive in that it was the first PowerBook that could drive an external color monitor. The 160 could drive up to 8-bit color at 832x624 resolution. it cost $2,480 and was replaced in August 1993 by the PowerBook 165.

The first of a new breed, the idea behind the Apple Duo 210 was to have a fully functional desktop computer (by way of the DuoDock) that also served as an excellent portable machine. The 210 ran on a 25 Mhz 68030 processor, had a 4-bit passive screen, 4x32 MB of memory, and an internal hard drive. Its most innovative feature was the 152 pin PDS that allowed it to dock with a docking station that might contain more RAM, a larger hard drive, or more VRAM for a color monitor.

Released in June 1993, the LC 520 was Apple's attempt to create a viable all-in-one computer for the 90s. It came in an attractive new one-piece case. The LC 520 was also released as the Performa 520.

Originally announced as the Centris 660av in July 1993, The Quadra 660av got a name change in October, when Apple phased out the Centris name, and was one of the first Macs (along with the Quadra 840av) to integrate audio-visual features into it's basic design. It came in a Centris 610-style low profile case, and was driven by a 25 MHz 68040 processor, with a 55 MHz AT&T 3210 Digital Signal Processor. The 660av was also one of the first Macs to include Geoport serial port (the modem port), which could be used as a modem with a telecom adapter. The 660av had s-video and composite video-in and out, and was originally priced at $2300, making it Apple's first low priced AV option.

The Quadra 840av was the first 68040 Mac to break the 33 MHz barrier. Based on the 40 MHz 68040 processor, and housed in a Quadra 800-style case, the 840av included AV features similar to its younger sibling, the 660av. However, it's AT&T 3210 DSP ran at a faster 66 MHz.

Released in February 1994, the LC 575 was released alongside the LC 550, adding a 33 Mhz 68LC040 processor. It was also the first Mac to contain a specialized "comm slot" that could take various network and modem cards specially designed to fit the slot. the comm slot has been a performa standard ever since.

Introduced in March 1994, the PowerMac 6100 was the first Mac to be powered by a PowerPC processor. An optional AV configuration was available. The 6100 came in a Centris 610-style low-profile case, cost $1,700, and was replaced in January 1995 by the 6100/66 which upgraded the processor to 66 Mhz. It was discontinued at the end of 1995. The 6100/66 DOS was also available, with a 66 Mhz 486DX/2 processor card, and was discontinued in early 1996.

Introduced in May 1994, the PowerBook 520 was the first PowerBook with '040 power. A trackpad replaced the rolling ball in older PowerBooks, and the 520 had a built-in microphone and stereo speaker.

The last of the Quadra line, the Quadra 630 was introduced in June 1994. The 630 was a hybrid of a Quadra and an LC in a sleek new case. It had an internal IDE hard drive (the 630 was the first Mac to use the IDE bus), and an optional CD-ROM drive.

Introduced in July 1994, the PowerBook 150 was Apple's first truly affordable PowerBook. People complained about its lack of an ADB port, it had only serial and SCSI ports and fuzzy passive matrix screen

Introduced in April 1995, The 5200 LC was the first LC model with a PowerPC chip. Released initially only in educational markets, the 5200 LC was powered by a 75 Mhz 603 processor, a lower voltage variant of the 601.

Bringing PCI to the entry-level, The PowerMac 7200 was introduced in August 1995, and came in the same case as the 7500. It was available with either a 75 or 90 Mhz 601 processor. There was also a PC compatable 7200/120 with a pentium processor card in one of its PCI slots.

The first second generation PowerMac, the 9500 was introduced in May 1995, and is still the most expandable PowerMac ever. It was powered by either a 120 or 132 Mhz 604 processor, a second-generation PowerPC chip which was considerably faster than its predecessor, the 601. The 9500, however, had 6 PCI slots. It was the first Mac to comply with the PCI industry standard. The 9500 came in a full tower case, and had 7 internal drive bays. The 9500 came with no graphics capability, a third party add-on card was required. The most innovative feature of the 9500 was that it's processor came on a daughtercard, making future upgrades much less expensive.

The PowerMac 6200 was a 5200 in a Quadra 630-style case. The Performas 6260CD, 6290CD, 6300CD, and 6310CD each ran on a 100 Mhz 603e, and the PowerMac 6300/120 and the Performa 6320 each ran on a 120 Mhz 603e.

Introduced in April 1996, the PowerMac 5400 LC looked the same as the 5200 on the outside, but inside was radically different. Running on a 120 Mhz 603e processor (a high speed variant of the 603). The 5400 was the first LC to use 168-pin DIMM sockets for memory expansion. It was also the first LC to include an industry-standard PCI slot, (although it also included the familiar LC comm, video i/o, and TV slots) and the first Macintosh computer to include enhanced SRS surround sound support.

The Performa 6400 represented a radical change in the Apple line. The 6400 was one of Apple's first consumer-aimed mid-range computer. The Performa 6400 came in a newly designed "InstaTower" case, and ran on either a 180 or a 200 Mhz 603e processor. It also shipped with an internal 28.8 modem and a video-output port.

Announced in October 1996, The PowerBook 1400 was a partial answer to a number of questions about recent PowerBooks. Powered by the same 117 Mhz 603e as the 5300, The 1400 was the first PowerBook to include an internal CD-ROM drive (6X). The bay for the sleep-swapable drive could also accommodate a variety of other storage options, including MO and zip drives. The RAM came in stackable modules (another PowerBook first) allowing for up to 64 MB of RAM. The 1400 also included an Internal expansion slot for video-out or Ethernet cards, and two PC Card slots that could accommodate two Type II PC Cards or one Type III PC Card. Faster models with a small L2 cache and an 8x CD-ROM drive were also released.

The PowerMac 5500 was further improved on the 5400 by adding hardware 2D and 3D graphics acceleration. It also had video input, NTSC video output, 16-bit audio input and output was initially only available to the education market.

Introduced in Febrary 1997, the PowerMac 6500 replaced the earlier 6400. It was powered by either a 225 or 250 Mhz 603e, and included an optional internal zip drive. all other specs are the same as the 5500. the 225 Mhz configuration didn't include the video input and output circuitry. A 300 Mhz Model was announced in the Spring - along with a 275 Mhz model - which was the first computer, Mac or PC to break the 300 Mhz barrier.

Introduced in Febrary 1997, The 7300 replaced both the 7200 and the 7600 in Apple's product line. Available in both 180 and 200 Mhz models and 166 Mhz in Japan and Europe. The 7300 ran on a single 604e processor. It lost the 7600's video input circuitry, but kept the removable daughtercard and the 7600's memory interleaving feature. The 180 Mhz model included 16 MB of RAM. The 200 Mhz model included 32 MB of RAM.

The flagship of what might be termed the third wave of Power Macs, the 9600 was announced in February 1997. It was packaged in an eye-catching new tower design, built to make its inside more easily accessable. It ran on 233, 200 or dual 200 Mhz 604e's. In August, the 9600 speed was increased to either a 300 or 350 Mhz "Mach 5" chip, a new high speed variant on the 604e. The 350 Mhz version barely shipped before Apple took it off the market, partially because of the small supply of 350 Mhz chips, but mostly because their upcoming PPC 750-based "Gossomer" Macs (the PowerMac G3) would be better both in performance and price. However the 350-Mhz 9600 returned several months later to fill out the High-End market. While the G3 was in many cases faster, its motherboard had only three PCI slots and three RAM slots. With superior expandability, the 9600 was still the high-end choice for many.

When it was announced in February 1997, The PowerBook 3400 was the fastest portable computer in the world. After several years of PowerBook trouble, Apple hoped to revitalize its portable market share with this new PCI-based model. Its drive bay was compatible with the older 5300 model, and it was the first PowerBook to utilise the 1 MB IrDA Infra-red standard. The 3400 ranged from $4,500 for 180 Mhz and no CD-ROM to $6,500 for 240 Mhz, fully loaded.

Although officially produced in celebration of the Twentieth Anniversary of Apple, the 20th Anniversary Mac was released close to a year after, in late Spring 1997. The Motherboard was similar to that of the PowerMac 5500, and it was based on the same 603e processor, running at 250 Mhz. The real innovation of the 20th Anniversary Mac was its unique shape, and advanced sound and video features. It came with an integrated TV/FM Radio System, an S-Video Input, and a custom sound system designed by Bose, with integrated stereo speakers, and a separate sub-woofer. The Twentieth Anniversary Mac was a limited edition, and sold for nearly $10,000.

Quietly released in the summer of 1997, The PowerBook 2400 was the first Apple sub-notebook since the Duo 2300, and was co-designed by IBM. The 2400 sacrificed a internal floppy or CD-ROM drive, but very little else. With most of the functionaltiy of larger notebooks, the 2400 weighed only 4.4 lbs.

Introduced in November 1997, the PowerMac G3 beat the 9600/300 as the fatsest Mac by nearly 10%. It was based on a newly designed motherboard (code-named "Gossamer") which ran at 66 Mhz, the G3 was the first Apple-branded Mac to be fitted with the new PPC 750 Processor. The 750 was co-designed by IBM and Motorola, and was the first processor capable of using a "backside" cache, which could communicate directly with the processor at extremely high speeds. The G3 came in either a mini-tower case or a desktop case, and operated at either 233 or 266 Mhz, with a 512 kB backside cache operating at 117 and 133 Mhz, respectively. The PowerMac G3 Desktop, available at 233 or 266 Mhz came with 16-bit Audio In and Out on a separate "personality" card and an internal Zip drive. The G3 MiniTower model, which initially was only available at 266 Mhz, had a different personality card, which offered all the features of the desktop card, plus 4 MB of VRAM (expandable to 6 MB) and S-Video In and Out. The Gossamer motherboard had 3 industry-standard SDRAM slots, allowing for 384 MB of RAM, but due to the height restrictions of the case, the G3 Desktop could not hold 128 MB modules, giving it a maximum of 192 MB. In early 1998, Apple made a 233 Mhz tower model available, and added a host of new add-on features for all models including a 4 GB fast/wide SCSI disk, and a faster graphics card. In March 1998, Apple added a 300 Mhz option on all built-to-order machines, as well as a dual-SCSI configuration, with RAID software, and an optional DVD-ROM drive. (a 3rd-party solution was required for MPEG-2 video playback.) A 333 Mhz version was made available in September 1998.

The PowerBook G3 was the first PowerBook to use the PPC 750, a third generation Motorala/IBM processor. The 750, or "G3" as it had been nicknamed before, was the first PPC processor designed to use a high speed, "backside" cache which could interact with the processor at much faster speeds than a standard L2 cache, which was restricted by the motherboard speed. The PowerBook G3 was similar to the PowerBook 3400, with the addition of a 750 processor running at 250 Mhz, and a 512 kB backside cache running at a 2.5:1 processor to cache ratio (100 Mhz). The Power of the 750, combined with the high speed cache, made the PowerBook G3 the fastest notebook in the world, bar none. Announced in March 1998, The PowerBook G3 Series was an entirely new design, which resembled its predecessor only in name. The G3 Series was the first BTO (built-to-order) PowerBook line. It fulfilled all of Apple's PowerBook offerings, from low to high end, with a single motherboard design. The G3 Series was available with a variety of BTO options including a 233, 250 or 292 Mhz PPC750 processor and either a 12" passive-matrix screen, a 13.3" TFT Active Matrix screen, or an incredible 14.1" TFT Active Matrix Screen. All models included two RAM slots which used industry standard RAM modules (the same used in most IBM Thinkpads), hardware 2D and 3D Graphics acceleration, a VGA port, and 4 Mbps IrDA. The G3 Series had a large, redesigned keyboard which included a new 'function' button allowing the keyboard to take on the functionality of a full size 105-key keyboard. It had 2 PC-card slots, which were CardBus compliant and the 13.3" and 14.1" models included an S-Video output. The G3 Series had two drive bays, either of which could hold a battery or a wide array of 3.5" expansion devices, such as floppy or zip modules. The right drive bay could also accommodate larger 5.25" devices. The PowerBook G3 Series started at $2,299 for 233 Mhz with no floppy drive and a 12" screen, and cost around $7,000 fully loaded.

Announced in May 1998 and shipped in August, the iMac was Apple's computer for the new millennium. Aimed at the low-end consumer market and designed with the internet in mind, the iMac was positioned by Apple as the most original new computer since the original Mac in 1984 and came in a stylish new case design, with translucent "Bondi Blue" plastics. The iMac included a 4 Mbps IrDA port, and an internal 56Kpbs modem, used two 12 Mbps Universal Serial Ports (USB) as its only means of external expansion, and included a newly-designed USB keyboard and mouse. While it had no other serial or SCSI ports, many manufacturers promised to make a variety of USB peripherals available by the time it shipped in August, and by and large they delivered on that promise. The iMac sold for $1,299.

Although it shares the name of its predecessor, the 'Blue' PowerMac G3 is an altogether different machine. With an all new translucent 'easy-open' case design (code named El-Capitan), the new G3 was the first Apple model to support FireWire, Apple's new high-speed serial standard. It was also the first professional model to include USB, although it also came with a 'legacy' ADB port for backwards compatibility. In a controversial move, Apple chose not to include standard serial ports, a floppy drive, or on-board SCSI, but had chosen to use Ultra ATA. An internal Zip was available, however, as were SCSI expansion cards. The G3 was available in a number of configurations, starting at $1599, to nearly $5000 for the fully loaded server configuration. In late April, the 'Blue' line was speed increased by 50 Mhz, bringing the high-end model to 450 Mhz.

Announced in July 1999 at Macworld New York, the iBook was perhaps the most anxiously awaited Apple computer ever. Aimed at the same consumer market as it's big brother, the iMac, the iBook filled the 2x2 consumer/pro/desktop/portable matrix that Steve Jobs had first detailed more than a year earlier. Its specification closely resembled that of the iMac, with the same basic i/o options, and the same 'closed system' concept. In order to bring the price down as far as possible, the design team removed the PC slots, IR, video-out and audio-in ports. The iBook also lacked a high-speed data-port, such as SCSI or firewire. It was the first Mac to include AGP-based graphics and included a handle. The iBook was the first Mac released using Unified Motherboard Architecture (UMA), which allowed Apple to standardise most motherboard components across all product lines. The most interesting new feature of the iBook was the inclusion of 'AirPort', a wireless networking system based on existing industry standards. AirPort allowed up to 10 iBooks to connect to a single base-station, which could then be plugged into an existing ethernet network or a standard phone line. The iBook had an antenna built into the case, and a PC-card sized slot for the AirPort card. The iBook was released for sale inl late-September 1999. At $1599, the iBook was $900 less expensive than Apple's lowest-priced professional PowerBook. In February 2000, the motherboard RAM was raised to 64 MB, and the hard disk was lifted up to 6 GB.

Announced in September 1999, alongside the PowerMac G4 (PCI Graphics), the PowerMac G4 (AGP Graphics) was a major revision of the PowerMac line. Based on the Unified Motherboard Architecture, The G4 AGP was built around the MPC 7400 chip, which was very much faster than its predecessor, the PPC 750. The G4 AGP introduced a number of performance improvements, including AGP-based graphics, AirPort compatibility, a faster memory bus, DVD-ROM or RAM standard, an internal FireWire port, 2 separate USB buses for a combined 24 Mbs, a 2X (133 Mhz) AGP slot, and up to 1.5 GB of RAM. The G4 AGP also introduced the new professional color, "graphite." The G4 AGP started at $2499 for the 450 Mhz configuration with a 20 GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM, and $3499 for the 500 Mhz configuration with a 27 GB hard drive and 256 MB or RAM, both included internal Zip drives. A 350 Mhz configuration was subsequently added to replace the similar G4 (PCI Graphics) configuration a month later, and the whole line was speed-bumped back up to 400/450/500 in February 2000.

The PowerMac G4 (PCI Graphics) was announced in September 1999, along with the PowerMac G4 (AGP Graphics). Based on the same motherboard as the 'Blue and White' G3, the G4 PCI added a Motorola MPC 7400 processor to an already succesful machine. Apple advertised the 7400 as a "Super Computer on a chip", due to the fact that it was capable of excecuting more than a billion instructions per second - a gigaflop. Much of the 7400's speed increase was due to a new set of instructions, which were executed by a new unit on the chip. Motorola refers to this new unit as the 'AltiVec' unit, while Apple publicly refers to it as the 'Velocity Engine'. The Velocity Engine vastly increased the speed of many common processor-intensive tasks. Originally, the MPC 7400 chip had been planned to be installed firstly in the G4 AGP model, but Apple was not able to get the new machine ready in time. The G4 PCI had been in the 'wings' in case of such an event, and allowed Apple to make 7400-equipped machines while they worked out the final problems of the G4 AGP. The G4 PCI introduced the new case design, similar to that of the B&W G3, but tinted in the new professional color, "graphite." The G4 PCI was priced at a modest $1599, and shipped standard with 64 MB of RAM, a 10 GB hard drive, a 32x CD-ROM and a 56 kbps modem. Zip and DVD-ROM/RAM drives were available as BTO options. The G4 (PCI Graphics) was terminated at the end of 1999 in favour of a similar configuration based on the G4 (AGP) motherboard.

Announced in October 1999, The iMac DV was a major jump forward in Apple's consumer strategy. Along with all the new features added to the iMac (Slot Loading), the DV also included a DVD-ROM drive, a larger hard drive, 2 FireWire ports and a VGA out. The iMac DV was convection cooled, and as a result needed no internal fan, making it the quietest mac since the 512k. The base model iMac DV came in 5 candy colors, with 64 MB of RAM, a 10 GB ATA drive, for $1299. A "Special Edition" was also available in Graphite, with 128 MB of RAM, and a 13 GB drive, for $1499.

Announced in July 2000, the PowerMac G4 (Gigabit Ethernet) added dual-processor power to the G4 line. Available with a single 400 Mhz G4, or dual 450 or 500 Mhz G4s, The new PowerMac G4 also included onboard 1000Base-T Ethernet as standard equipment, an industry first. The PowerMac G4 (GE) shipped in three configurations:the single-processor 400 Mhz configuration included 64 MB of RAM and 20 GB hard drive, for $1599; the dual-processor 450 Mhz configuration included 128 MB of RAM and a 30 GB hard drive for $2499; finally, the dual-processor 500 Mhz configuration included 256 MB of RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, and a DVD-RAM drive. All configurations included a 56 kbps modem, Apple's Pro Mouse, and the innovative new Apple Display Connector (ADC) which passed video, power and USB to new Apple Monitors from a single connection.

Announced in July 2000, the PowerMac G4 Cube introduced a new case design. Housed in an 8x8x8 cube, the G4 Cube combined the elegance of the iMac with the power of the PowerMac G4. The G4 Cube was a foray into the business market, as well as an answer to those who wanted an iMac-like machine, with more choice in monitors. The Cube traded expandability for its diminutive size. There were no PCI slots and while the Graphics was fitted into an 2x AGP slot, there wasn't room for full-length AGP cards. With the exception of PCI expansion, the Cube was as versatile as it's larger G4 cousin which had three RAM slots, an AirPort slot and two USB and FireWire ports. One complant about the Cube was its lack of conventional Audio input and output. Instead, it came with an external USB amplifier and a set of Harman Kardon speakers. The amplifier had a standard mini-plug headphone output, but there was no microphone included. Having USB as the only sound-input option was considered limiting by many. Shortcomings aside, the Cube was a remarkable feat of engineering, crammed inside an elegant case. The Cube shipped to retail markets with a 450 Mhz G4 processor, a 20 GB hard drive, a 56 kbps modem, 64 MB of RAM, and Apple s Pro Mouse, for $1799. Another configuration was available through the Apple Store, with a 500 Mhz G4, a 30 GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM. In February 2001, The cube received a feature and price change. The low-end configuration was repriced at $1299. A 'better' configuration was made available, with a CD-RW drive and 128 MB of RAM, for $1599. Finally, the high-end version got a 60 GB hard drive, 256 MB of RAM, a CD-RW drive and an 32 MB NVIDIA GeForce2 MX video card, and sold for $2199.

With the September 2000 announcement of the iBook (FireWire), Apple finally brought FireWire to its entire product line. It also introduced an innovative new combination video/audio out port, a standard miniplug, which allowed consumers to watch their iMovies (or their DVDs on the SE version) on their TV. The iBook (FireWire) was available in two configurations: a 366 Mhz model, with 64 MB of RAM cost $1499 and was available in Indigo or Key Lime. The 466 Mhz "Special Edition" iBook came with a DVD-ROM drive, and was available in Graphite or Key Lime for $1799.

Announced in January 2001, the PowerMac G4 (Digital Audio) was the first speed increase for the PowerMac line for over a year. The G4 (Digital Audio) was so-named because of a new Built-in Amplifier, designed to drive USB speakers, along with the conventional minijack line output. The G4 (DA) included a number of architectural improvements, including a 133 Mhz bus, 4 PCI slots, and a 1 GB/s main-memory bus. PCI throughput was enhanced by the removal of the PCI bridge (the main memory controller now communicated directly with the PCI bus). Notably missing from the G4 (DA) was multiprocessing. With the exception of a dual-533 Mhz BTO option from the Apple Store, all models included a single processor. This was, according to Steve Jobs, the only way Apple would be able to make the 667 and 733 Mhz models in sufficient quantities. The G4 (DA) was sold with two variants of G4: the low-end models shipped with the PPC 7410 processor, a lower-power variant of the 7400; the higher-end machines came with a PPC 7450 processor, which in addition to an on-chip 256 kB L2 Cache and had four Altivec (Velocity Engine) units. The PowerMac G4 (DA) was made in four configurations: the 466 Mhz configuration included 128 MB of RAM and 30 GB hard drive; the 533 Mhz configuration included 128 MB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive; the 667 Mhz configuration included 256 MB of RAM and a 60 GB hard drive; finally, the 733 Mhz configuration included 256 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive. All configurations included a CD-RW drive, instead of the DVD-ROM drive of the previous G4 models (DVD-ROM was available BTO). The 733 Mhz came with an innovative new "superdrive" which could read and write both CDs and DVDs. It was also bundled with Apple's iDVD, a simple DVD-Authoring application.

Announced in January 2001, the PowerBook G4 was a dramatic change to Apple's PowerBook line. Based on a new low-power G4 chip, the PPC 7410, the PowerBook G4 sported a stylish new titanium enclosure, which was only 1" thick, 0.7" thinner than its predecessor, the PowerBook G3 (FireWire). The reduction in size came with restrictions, however, the PB G4 had a fixed, 6x slot-load DVD-ROM drive instead of a removable drive bay and a single battery bay - previous models allowed the use of the drive bay as a second battery bay. The most innovative feature of the PowerBook G4, was its wide-aspect 15.2" screen, which had a native resolution of 1152x768. This made the PB G4 wider than its predecessor, but it was over an inch less deep. The PowerBook G4 was made in two configurations. The 400 Mhz model, with 128 MB of RAM and a 10 GB hard drive. The 500 Mhz model, with 256 MB of RAM and a 20 GB hard drive was $3,499.

Announced in May 2001 at a special press event, the iBook (Dual USB) brought the design aesthetic of the PowerBook G4 to the consumer level. The iBook (Dual USB) was much smaller than its predecessor, and included a faster G3 processor, more RAM, VGA out, stereo speakers, and a higher resolution screen. It also was the first Mac to include a 'Combo' DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive in the high-end model. The iBook (Dual USB) was available in four configurations, each with a different optical drive: the CD-ROM model, with 64 MB of RAM; the DVD-ROM model, with 128 MB of RAM; the CD-RW model (available only as a BTO option at the Apple Store), with 128 MB of RAM; and the 'Combo' DVD-ROM/CD-RW Model, with 128 MB of RAM.

Announced in January 2002, the iMac (Flat Panel) was the first completely redesigned iMac since the original. Based around a 15-inch LCD screen, this iMac also brought both the G4 processor and the CD-RW/DVD-R 'Super Drive' to the consumer space for the first time. The iMac (Flat Panel) featured an entirely new case design, built around the idea of a screen that could rotate and change angles easily. The 'desk lamp' design was mounted aon the top of a semi-spherical base, 10.6 inches in diameter, which housed the rest of the computer. The machine had been developed over the course of two years and was the culmination of Apple's move away from CRT displays. Steve Jobs proudly announced, when this new iMac was released, that "The CRT is officially dead." The iMac (Flat Panel) was made in three configurations: the low-end model, with a 700 Mhz G4 Processor, 128 MB of RAM, a 40 GB ATA-66 hard drive and a CD-RW drive; another 700 Mhz model, with 256 MB of RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM 'Combo Drive'; finally, the 800 Mhz model, with 256 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive, and the CD-RW/DVD-R 'SuperDrive'. The middle and high-end model shipped with Apple Pro Speakers, and all models included a new White Pro Keyboard and Mouse.

Announced in January 2002, The PowerMac G4 (Quicksilver 2002) was the first Mac to break the Gigahertz barrier. Apart from the addition of a DDR SDRAM L3 cache on the middle and high-end models and several new graphics cards, the Quicksilver 2002 series was essentially a speed increase of the previous Quicksilver series. The Quicksilver 2002 PowerMac G4 was available in three configurations: the 800 Mhz model, with 256 MB of RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, and a CD-RW drive; the 900 Mhz configuration, with 256 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive and a DVD-R drive; and the high-end 1 Ghz model, with 512 MB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive and a DVD-R drive. There was also a BTO 'Ultimate' configuration, with dual 1 Ghz processors, 1.5 GB or RAM, two 80 GB ATA-66 hard drives, and an NVIDIA GeForce4 Titanium graphics card.

Introduced in April 2002, the eMac brought G4 power and a 17 inch monitor to the familiar iMac form factor. Based on the same architecture as the flat panel iMac, the eMac was initially available only for educational markets. It shipped in two configurations: a 32x CD-ROM model and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM model. In June 2002, the eMac was released to the consumer market in a single model, with a CD-RW drive and 128 MB of RAM. In August 2002, The eMac received a speed increase and feature upgrade and was released to the consumer market. The $999 model ($1099 consumer) then was sold with a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. A $1499 800 Mhz model was also released to the consumer market, with 256 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive and a CD-RW/DVD-RW SuperDrive.

Announced in August 2002, The PowerMac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors) included several motherboard enhancements borrowed from the previously released Xserve rackmount server. The bus speed on most models was raised to 166 Mhz, and a PC2100/2700 Double Data Rate SDRAM memory bus was included. Dual processors were included across the entire line, as were enhanced graphics cards. The G4 (MDD) was one of the loudest PowerMacs ever, and gained the nickname 'G4 Windtunnel' for this reason a fan and power supply replacement plan was subsequently offered by Apple. It came in three configurations: a dual 867 Mhz model, with 256 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, and a 32 MB NVIDIA GeForce4 MX graphics card; dual 1 and 1.25 Ghz models shipped with 256 and 512 MB of RAM, 80 and 120 GB hard drives, a DVD-R/CD-RW 'SuperDrive' and an ATI Radion 9000 Pro graphics card. In July 2003, with the arrival of the PowerMac G5, the PowerMac G4 (MDD) was revived as the last OS 9 Bootable PowerMac ever. This configuration included a single 1.25 Ghz processor, 256 MB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive and a Combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. Dual processor models were made available as BTO configurations.

Announced in January 2003, The PowerBook G4 (12.1") brough the sub-notebook form factor of the 12" iBook to the G4 line. Housed inside an Aluminum case even smaller than the iBook, The 12.1" G4 had nearly all the features of the 867 Mhz PowerBook G4 Titanium, and a few more. The 12.1" G4 was based on a new motherboard design, which included Double Data Rate RAM, internal BlueTooth, and AirPort Extreme (54 Mbps 802.11g) support. The 12" PowerBook G4 included a 32 MB NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go graphics card, and borrowed the iBook's mini-VGA port. It came in a single configuration, with 256 MB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive. A SuperDrive configuration, with a 60 GB drive was also available.

Announced in January 2003, The PowerBook G4 (17") boasted the largest screen of any portable then available. With a 1440 x 900 pixels 17" screen, the PowerBook G4 was the most full-featured laptop Apple had ever sold. Built around a 1-inch thick aluminum case, the 14" G4 included several Apple firsts: it was the first Mac to include FireWire 800, Apple's new high-speed version of IEEE 1394, and one of the first Macs to include internal BlueTooth and AirPort Extreme, Apple's implementation of the 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless standard. The 17" G4 also featured PC2700 Double Data Rate RAM (a PowerBook first), and a 64 MB NVIDIA GeForce4 440 Go graphics card. It shipped in a single configuration, with 512 MB of RAM, and a 60 GB hard driive.

Released in March of 2003, the Xserve (Slot Load) was a minor speed increase to the original Xserve. Inaddition to a faster processor and memory bus, a slot-loading optical drive was added. There were single and a dual processor models made.

Released at the same time, the Xserve RAID had support for up to 14 180 GB drive modules, each on a separate ATA-100 bus. It used a dual 2 GB Fibre Channel interface (a Fibre PCI card was available for Xserves), and had a maximum storage capacity of 2.52 TB. Prices ranged from $5,999 - $10,999.

Announced in June 2003, the PowerMac G5 was Apple's long-awaited fifth generation PowerPC-based machine. In an important move, Apple decided to break with Motorola, and use an IBM-designed processor. Motorola had been chronically delayed for both processor design and shipment, and was at least a year away from its fifth-generation PowerPC CPU. Apple and IBM had worked closely together for nearly a year on the PowerPC 970 Processor and the 64-bit PowerMac G5 represented a huge leap forward in both processor and machine design. Housed in an innovative new Aluminum enclosure, the PowerMac G5 was the first 64-bit consumer-level desktop computer ever sold. It featured either a single 1.6 or 1.8 Ghz processor, or dual 2.0 Ghz processors. It included a variety of motherboard enhancements, including PCI-X slots, and 8X AGP slot, a Serial-ATA bus, and up to 8 GB of RAM. Most impressive of all was the front-side bus speed, which was increased to half of the processor speed - up to 1.0 Ghz. This represented a more than six-fold improvement over the previous PowerMac G4 model. The PowerPC 970 was a higher-power and higher-temperature chip than its 74xx predecessors and a considerable amount of engineering went into the cooling system of the PowerMac G5. The case was divided into 4 discreet 'thermal zones' each with its own cooling system. A total of 9 computer-controlled fans were used in the G5, which was one of the quietest PowerMacs in years. There were three configurations for the PowerMac G5. The 1.6 Ghz model, with an 80 GB hard drive and 256 MB of RAM, sold for $1999. The 1.8 and dual 2.0 Ghz models, both with a 160 GB hard drive and 512 MB of RAM, sold for $2399 and $2999 respectively.

Announced in September 2003, the PowerBook G4 (15" FireWire 800) was arguably the most widely anticipated PowerBook to date. Since the announcement of the 'Aluminum' 12 and 17-inch PowerBooks in January, there had been speculation about when a similar 15-inch PowerBook would make an appearance. The PowerBook G4 (15" FireWire 800) brought the 15-inch model up to feature parity with it's 17-inch 'big brother'. In addition to the new Aluminum case, this revision included USB 2.0, AirPort Extreme, internal bluetooth support, a FireWire 800 port, a faster bus and memory system, and a faster optical drive. The PowerBook G4 (15" FireWire 800) qwas manufactured in two configurations. The 1.0 Ghz model, with 256 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive, and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive was $1999. The 1.25 Ghz model, with 512 MB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, an AirPort Extreme card, an illuminated keyboard and a CD-RW/DVD-RW SuperDrive, was $2599.

Announced in January 2004, the Xserve G5 brought the architectural improvements of the PowerMac G5 to the Xserve line. In addition to adding single or dual 2.0 GHz PowerPC 970FX processors, the Xserve G5 included dramatically faster data and memory buses, more and faster RAM, FireWire 800 and USB 2.0, Serial ATA and PCI-X support. Perhaps the most obvious change to the Xserve G5 was the incorporation of the PowerMac G5's cooling system, which resulted in one less drive bay, removed for ventilation. The Xserve G5 was available in two configurations: a single 2.0 GHz processor model with 512 MB of RAM and a dual 2.0 GHz processor model with 1 GB of RAM. A Cluster Node configuration of the Xserve G5 was also available. The Xserve RAID also received an upgrade: it now had support for up to 14 250 GB drive modules, each on a separate ATA-100 bus, for a total of 3.5 TB of possible storage. Prices ranged from $5,999 to $10,999.

Picture Credits: Apple Computer, Inc.

Further information can be obtained from Apple History.

Back to top