The iMac G3 was the first model of the iMac line of personal computers made by Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer, Inc.). The iMac G3, based on the Columbus architecture is an all-in-one personal computer, encompassing both the monitor and the computer in a single enclosure. Originally released in striking "Bondi Blue" and later a range of other brightly colored, translucent plastic casings, the iMac shipped with a keyboard and mouse in matching tints.
Steve Jobs streamlined the company's large and confusing product lines immediately after becoming Apple's interim CEO in 1997; toward the end of the year, Apple trimmed its line of desktop Macs down to the beige Power Macintosh G3 series, which included the iMac's immediate predecessor, the G3 All-In-One, which featured nearly identical specifications and was sold only to the educational market. Having discontinued the consumer-targeted Performa series, Apple needed a replacement for the Performa's price point. The company announced the iMac on May 6, 1998 and started shipping it on August 15, 1998.
Aesthetically, the iMac was dramatically different from any other mainstream computer ever released. It was made of translucent "Bondi Blue"-colored plastic, and was egg-shaped around a 15-inch (38 cm) CRT. There was a handle, and the computer interfaces were hidden behind a door that opened on the right-hand side of the machine. Dual headphone jacks in the front complemented the built-in stereo speakers. Jonathan Ive, currently Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple, is credited with the industrial design.
The iMac was the first computer to offer USB ports as standard, including the connector for its new keyboard and mouse, thus abandoning previous Macintosh peripheral connections, such as the ADB, SCSI and GeoPort serial ports.
A radical step was to abandon the 3½-inch diskette drive (which had been present in every Mac since the first one in 1984). Apple argued that recordable CDs, the internet, and office networks were quickly making diskettes obsolete. Apple's move was considered ahead of its time and was hotly debated. At the iMac's introduction, third-party manufacturers offered inexpensive external USB diskette drives.
The keyboard and mouse were redesigned for the iMac with translucent plastics and a Bondi Blue trim (Apple USB Keyboard and Apple USB Mouse). The keyboard was smaller than Apple's previous keyboards, with white letters on black keys, both features that attracted debate. The mouse was of a round, "hockey puck" design, which was instantly derided as being unnecessarily difficult for users with larger hands. Apple continued shipping the round mouse, adding a divot in later versions so that users could distinguish where the button was. Eventually, a new oblong optical mouse, known as the Apple Mouse (formerly "Apple Pro Mouse"), replaced the round mouse across all of Apple's hardware offerings.
Internally, the iMac was a combination of the MacNC project and CHRP. Although the promise of CHRP has never been fully realized, the work that Apple had done on CHRP significantly helped in the designing of the iMac. The original iMac had a 233 MHz PowerPC G3 (PowerPC 750) chip, with 512 KB L2 cache running at 116.6 MHz, which also ran in Apple's high-end Power Macintosh line at the time, though at higher speeds, with more expensive models shipping with 1 MB L2 cache. It sold for US$1,299, and had a 4 GB hard drive, 32 MB RAM, 2 MB video RAM, and shipped with Mac OS 8.1, which was soon upgraded to Mac OS 8.5. Parts such as the front-mounted IrDA port and the tray-loading CD-ROM drive were borrowed from the Apple laptops. Although the iMac did not officially have an expansion slot, the first versions had a slot dubbed the "mezzanine slot". It was only for internal use by Apple, although a few third-party expansion cards were released for it, such as a Voodoo II video card upgrade from 3dfx and SCSI/SCSI-TV tuner cards (iProRAID and iProRAID TV) from the German company Formac; this was removed from later iMacs. According to an article in the German computer magazine c't, the socket can be retrofitted on revision C iMacs. The hard drive in the iMac G3 was a Quantum Fireball.
The iMac line was continually updated after initial release. Aside from increasing processor speed, video RAM, and hard-disk capacity, Apple replaced Bondi Blue with new colors—initially blueberry, strawberry, tangerine, grape, and lime; later other colors, such as graphite, ruby, sage, snow, and indigo, and the "Blue Dalmatian" and "Flower Power" patterns. A later hardware update created a sleeker design. This second-generation iMac featured a slot-loading optical drive, FireWire, "fanless" operation (through free convection cooling), and the option of AirPort wireless networking. Apple continued to sell this line of iMacs until March 2003, mainly to customers who wanted the ability to run the older Mac OS 9 operating system.
USB and FireWire support, and support for dial-up, Ethernet, and wireless networking (via 802.11b and Bluetooth) soon became standard across Apple's entire product line. In particular, the high-speed interface, FireWire, corrected the deficiencies of the earlier iMacs.
As Apple continued to release new versions of its computers, the term iMac continued to be used to refer to machines in its consumer desktop line.
|iMac G3 (tray loading)|
August 15, 1998
15" 1024 x 768
The tray-loading iMac G3 featured a 15" CRT display with a 1024x768 resolution. Its input and output ports included two USB 1.1 ports, 56k Modem, built-in 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet and 4Mbit/s infrared port (which was only included in Revision A models). It included built-in stereo speakers, microphone, audio line in, audio line out and two headphone ports near the right speaker. The iMac had a door covering the ports with a hole to manage cables. The iMac also included a puck-shaped Apple USB Mouse and a new compact Apple USB keyboard. It was originally only available in Bondi Blue, but this was discontinued in favor of new Strawberry, Blueberry, Lime, Grape, and Tangerine colors, which were introduced shortly after the iMac was released. The tray loading iMac was discontinued on October 5, 1999 when the new slot loading iMac G3 was introduced.
- August 15, 1998 — iMac 233 MHz (Revision A) (M6709LL/A). 233 MHz processor. ATI Rage IIc graphics with 2 MB SGRAM. Available in Bondi Blue only, reset hole on side panel. One of only two iMac models to include an IrDA port.
- October 17, 1998 — iMac 233 MHz (Revision B) (M6709LL/B). Minor update featuring new Mac OS 8.5, ATI Rage Pro Graphics with 6 MB of SGRAM. Last hardware revision to include the programmer's interrupt/reset switches on the side panel, as well as the IrDA port and internal mezzanine slot.
- January 5, 1999 — iMac 266 MHz (Revision C, "Five Flavors") (M7389LL/A, M7345LL/A, M7392LL/A, M7390LL/A, M7391LL/A). 266 MHz processor. IrDA port and mezzanine slot removed. ATI Rage Pro Turbo graphics with 6 MB SGRAM. Available in Strawberry (pink), Blueberry (blue), Lime (light green), Grape (purple), and Tangerine (orange). Price reduced by US$100.
- April 14, 1999 — iMac 333 MHz (Revision D). 333 MHz processor. Updated mouse with indentation on the button.
|Model||iMac ||iMac (Revision B) ||iMac (266 MHz)||iMac (333 MHz)|
|Display||15-inch (viewable) screen with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution|
|Graphics||ATI Rage IIc graphics processor with 2 MB of SGRAM memory
Upgradable to 6 MB of SGRAM memory
|ATI Rage Pro graphics processor with 6 MB of SGRAM memory|
|4 GB||6 GB|
|Processor||233 MHz PowerPC G3 (750)||266 MHz PowerPC G3 (750)||333 MHz PowerPC G3 (750)|
Two slots for
max. 384 MB (128MB supported by Apple)
max. 512 MB (256 MB supported by Apple)
|Optical drive||24X tray-loading CD-ROM drive|
|Minimum operating system required||Mac OS 8.1 or 8.5||Mac OS 8.5.1|
|Weight||40 pounds / 18.14 kg|
|Dimensions||15.8 x 15.2 x 17.6 inches / 401 x 386 x 447 mm|
- October 5, 1999 — iMac/iMac DV/iMac DV SE. First revision with FireWire support, except for the 350 MHz (Blueberry) model. 350 or 400 MHz processor, slot-loading optical drive, same colors as rev C/D iMac, plus Special Edition in graphite color. Used ATI Rage 128 VR Graphics with 8 MB of VRAM. Included internal slot for 802.11b AirPort card (AirPort card adapter required).
- July 19, 2000 — iMac/iMac DV/iMac DV+/iMac DV SE. DV+ and DV SE models upgrade slot-loading CD-ROM to slot-loading DVD-ROM drive. 350, 400, 450 or 500 MHz processor, colors graphite (grey), ruby (red), snow (white), indigo (dark blue) and sage (green). Graphics updated to Rage 128 Pro, but still with 8 MB SGRAM. 350 MHz model (Indigo) lacked AirPort card slot and still lacked FireWire support.
- February 22, 2001 — (patterns). 400, 500 (PPC750CXe), or 600 (PPC750CXe) MHz processor. Available in Indigo, Graphite, and "Blue Dalmatian" or "Flower Power" patterns. DVD-ROM drive discontinued in favor of slot-loading CD-RW drive (low-end Indigo model has CD-ROM). 750CXe models features a new "Pangea" motherboard with a 16 MB ATI Rage 128 Ultra graphics chip.
- July 18, 2001 — (summer 2001). 500, 600, or 700 MHz (PPC750CXe) processor. Available in indigo, graphite, and snow. 700 MHz model discontinued in January 2002 after G4 iMacs were introduced. 500 and 600 MHz models discontinued March 2003.
It was not released to the public that iMac DV SE G3 was 1.0 GHz until 2002.
|Model||iMac (Slot Loading) ||iMac (Summer 2000) ||iMac (Early 2001) ||iMac (Summer 2001) |
|Display||15-inch (viewable) screen with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution|
|Graphics||ATI Rage 128 VR graphics processor with 8 MB of memory||ATI Rage 128 Pro graphics processor with 8 MB of memory||ATI Rage 128 Pro graphics processor with 8 MB of memory or ATI Rage 128 Ultra with 16 MB of memory||ATI Rage 128 Ultra graphics processor with 16 MB of memory|
|6 GB, 10 GB or 13 GB||7 GB, 10 GB, 20 GB or 30 GB||10 GB, 20 GB or 30 GB||20 GB, 40 GB or 60 GB|
|Processor||350 MHz or 400 MHz MHz PowerPC G3 (750)||350 MHz, 400 MHz, 450 MHz or 500 MHz PowerPC G3 (750)||400 MHz PowerPC G3 (750), 500, MHz or 600 MHz PowerPC G3 (750CX)||500 MHz PowerPC G3 (755), 600 or 700 MHz PowerPC G3 (750CXe)|
Two slots for
|64 MB or 128 MB
max. 1 GB (512 MB supported by Apple)
|64 MB or 128 MB
max. 1 GB
|64 MB, 128 MB or 256 MB|
max. 1 GB
|AirPort||Optional AirPort 802.11b card (adapter required)|
|Optical drive||24x slot-loading CD-ROM drive or 4x slot-loading DVD-ROM drive||24x slot-loading CD-ROM drive or 8x CD-R and 4x CD-RW recording and 32x CD Read slot-loading CD-RW drive|
|Minimum operating system required||Mac OS 8.6||Mac OS 9.0.4||Mac OS 9.1||Mac OS 9.1 and Mac OS X 10.0.4|
|Colors||Blueberry, Grape, Strawberry, Tangerine, Lime, and Graphite||Indigo, Ruby, Sage, Snow, and Graphite||Indigo, Graphite, Blue Dalmatian, and Flower Power||Indigo, Graphite, and Snow|
|Weight||34.7 pounds / 15.8 kg|
|Dimensions||15.0 x 15.0 x 17.1 inches / 381 x 381 x 435 mm|
Timeline of iMac models
Template:Further Apple protected the iMac design with legal action against computer makers who made imitations, such as eMachines’ eOne. Some manufacturers added translucent plastics to existing designs, following the trend started by Apple. In 1999, Apple obtained the registered domain name appleimac.com from Abdul Traya, after legal intervention. The website now automatically redirects to Apple Inc.'s website
- Paul Thurrott (May 6, 1998). Whooa! Apple Announces the iMac. Windows IT Pro. Retrieved on February 26, 2006.
- IBM - The ins and outs of USB
- iMac - Technical Specification
- Pinout info for the Revision A iMac's 'mezzanine' (aka PERCH) connector. Retrieved on 2007-03-08.
- , Apple iMac G3/233 Original - Bondi (Rev. A & B) Specs (M6709LL/A*)
- , Apple iMac G3/266 (Fruit Colors) Specs (M7345LL/A*)
- , Apple Specifications, October 17, 1998
- , Apple Specifications, October 13, 2008
- , Apple iMac G3/400 DV (Slot Loading - Fruit) Specs (M7493LL/A*)
- , Apple Specifications, October 15, 1999
- Kanellos, Michael. "Apple sues eMachines for iMac look-alike", CNET, 1999-08-19.
- Battle For Domain Name Between Apple And Teen Resolved (1999-04-27). Retrieved on 2007-02-26.