Tech News on G4

'The iMac Evolution

September 03, 2007

By Greg Gazin - G4 Canada

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Apple has unveiled it’s most powerful, sleekest all-in-one computer to date – the iMac. Now the iMac line itself isn’t new. In fact, coming of age, it’s now in it’s 10th year and it’s 4th generation. Its latest reincarnation has shed the iPod looking white in favour of a beautiful MacBook Pro family style anodized aluminum.

How soon we forget that it was the iMac, where the “i” stood for Internet and not the iPod, that saved Apple from the brink of destruction and started the “i" revolution.

 

Dog Days of 1997

Turn the clock back a decade to 1997. Apple Computer was looking for a lifeline. Its stock price (adjusted to today’s value after dividends and stock splits) had been down to the low US$3 range after seeing around $17(adjusted) in the early 90’s.

Apple Computer was completing its purchase of NeXT Inc. This move resulted in Steve Jobs returning to the company he had co-founded in 1976 and was ousted from on what some Apple enthusiasts call Black Friday – September 13th 1985. Jobs stayed on as a consultant and in September 1997 agreed to become Apple’s iCEO, the ‘I” stood for "Interim". During that time, a deal with Microsoft injected $150 million dollars into Apple with a commitment to continue to develop Office, Internet Explorer and others MS for the Macintosh platform. A deal deemed necessary to ensure the future of Apple.

While the Macintosh Computer had found success in select niche markets, it wasn’t quite fully accepted in the business world and slightly out of the reach for the average consumer.

 

Welcome to iMac

Jobs was looking for his next big hit. The iMac announced in May and released in August 1998. It was targeted at the consumer market as the world’s first Internet appliance, unlike anything anyone had seen before.

The entire computer, 15” monitor, processor, speakers were all housed in what looked like a King-Kong sized gumdrop weighing in at a whopping 38lbs. No longer was it a prisoner to the beige and greys of existing computers, this unit was a Bondi Blue named after a beach in Australia and the exact same colour as Crayola's Blue-Green crayon. It was translucent with a light grey toned trim. It’s 233Mhz G3 processor was ahead of its time. It came standard with a built-in microphone, CD-Rom drive and the floppy drive was to be no more. It had a matching keyboard and a mouse that was nicknamed a “puck”.

Within a year, Apple released 5 more colours – like Lifesavers, which could be seen in episodes of Seinfeld, and added a number of enhancements like more powerful processors, Firewire, DVD drives and more. Over its lifespan there was were 13, a bakers dozen of colours which included creative innovations like Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power - the model that still adorns my better half’s desktop.

In 2003, Time, reported that within 2 year’s of the iMacs launch and after 6 million units sold, Apple Stock price had gone up 400%.

 

iMac G4 The Next Generation

iMac 2By 2002, the steam had run out of the heavyweight. It was time for an extreme makeover. The myriad of colours had become a little pale.

Apple shed the traditional CRT or tube screen. This was the first all-in one to use an LCD screen. The screen was attached to a chrome arm that was set in a shaped base that looked like half of a basketball. Everything was white including the keyboard.

The new iMac had become a work of art - something you’d see in a utopian world, a scene taking place in the distant future. The iMac G4 was nicknamed the “iLamp”, likely because that’s what it looked like and partly because it resembled Luxo Jr. ( an animated lamp) in a Pixar’s animation short. The first model released ported a 15” LCD. Later releases added a 17” and a 20” version, incorporating models that broke the 1GHz barrier for processor speed.

The iLamp didn’t sell as well as expected. Perhaps it was a little too eclectic – or perhaps it’s price, which was high as LCD screens were relatively new to the market.

 

iMac G5 – 3rd Generation

The iPod had been undeniably a runaway success, loved by Mac & PC Users alike. Perhaps it’s no accident that the 3rd generation iMac released in 2004 resembled an exaggerated version of the top half of an iPod. (I bet some of you didn’t realize that)

Apple was hoping that the appeal of the iPod, especially to the non-Mac user would lead people to either switch or consider iMac as their first computer.

While the iLamp had the LCD attached to an arm attached to computer base, the iMac G5 had its innards attached to the screen.

“Where’s the computer?” many would ask.

The entire computer was not much bigger or wider than the screen itself. (17” x17”x “6 and 18.5 lbs.). This model was wildly successful having seen it being released in 17”, 20” and 24” models. Like the other Mac Models it also eventually incorporated the Intel processors. However, the iMac was still associated with Apple’s consumer line, which brings us to today.

 

iMac 2007- 4th Generation

the New iMacIn the past, Apple differentiated their offerings to the consumer and professional markets. The iMac delineates the former and PowerMac for the latter. The same held true for iBook (white) and PowerBook (aluminum) and today’s MacBook & MacBook Pro.

The latest iMac has shed its consumer label and joined the family of the Apple higher-end line of Pro models.

While straying from tradition and keeping the “i” in its name, it’s now adorned with the anodized aluminum frame and glass cover signifying its true coming of age.

Gone is the 17” model. The iMac comes in two sizes only 20” & 24” with Intel Core 2 Duo processors ranging from 2-2.8Ghz and supporting hard drives up to 1 terabyte (1000GB), ultra high speed Firewire 800, advanced graphics capability and up to 4Gb of memory. (Complete specs at www.Apple.ca/iMac)

Apple’s stock recently closed just under $140.00.

You’ve come a long way baby!

Greg Gazin can be reached at gadgetguy “at” telus “dot” net.

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.