Why iMac G4 remains to be the supreme Mac ever made two decades later | Tistalents

In 1998, Steve Jobs provided the first iMac and it revolutionized the deepest laptop—now to not level out it gave uncommon life to a struggling Apple. The iMac grew to become a astronomical hit, however after 4 years, Apple wished to interchange the laptop. The up to this level iMac now not handiest wanted to usher in uncommon utilized sciences, but it surely additionally had the daunting job of proving that Apple’s procure innovation wasn’t a fluke.

So in 2002, Apple provided the iMac G4, and the company one other time grew to develop into the market on its head. And in doing so, it created the supreme Mac it has ever made. Right right here’s why it silent holds up two decades later.

Extra on the iMac G4’s twentieth anniversary

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The procure grew to become in precise reality irregular

Very early on in its historic earlier, Apple grew to become recognized for making all-in-one computer systems. Whereas most of us companion all-in-one with the iMac, the Lisa, which even predates the Mac, grew to become Apple’s first PC to accommodate the point out and elements in a single case. As unhurried as the G3 iMac in 1998, all-in-ones had been designed spherical outstanding CRT shows, and Apple wanted to fabricate enclosures to cloak immense tubes, whereas at the identical time having a examine immense and offering regular effectivity.

That modified with the iMac G4, which grew to become the first desktop Mac to make spend of a flat-panel LCD, which is dramatically smaller and thinner than a CRT. Apple might probably maybe’ve taken the simple route and lengthy earlier with a procure that mirrored the distinctive Bondi Blue iMac furthermore with a smaller footprint (really Steve Jobs made a shaggy canine legend dart about that sometime of Macworld San Francisco keynote). Nonetheless no, Apple took a whole uncommon methodology, with the core elements in a domed case, a chrome arm that caught out from the tip of the dome, and an LCD linked to the tip.

iMac G4 base
The iMac G4 is in precise reality a one-of-a-kind laptop. No or Mac or PC has even close to with regards to its irregular procure and character.


The iMac G4 grew to become dubbed the “sunflower” Mac, or the “iLamp,” a reputation impressed by the Luxo Jr. video temporary by Pixar. It didn’t gaze fancy a pc. To at the current time, the iMac G4 stands out in an earthly world of desktop computer systems—uncommon Macs built-in. It grew to become quirky, pleasing, and purposeful, however extra importantly, the procure proved that Apple’s success with the distinctive iMac wasn’t a fluke.

Apple obtained the ergonomics lawful

The most attention-grabbing fragment of the iMac’s procure grew to become the cantilevered metal arm that held the 15-creep LCD. It allowed prospects to exactly matter the point out in primarily the most simple matter—you might probably maybe swap it up or down, left or lawful, and in addition you modify the tilt, too. In an ode to the iMac G4, Christopher Phin wrote that the point out’s arm grew to become, “impossibly, magically refined, and preposterously staunch, fancy no completely different portion of engineering you’ve historical sooner than.” When Apple launched a 20-creep iMac G4, the arm grew to become stiffened to toughen the simpler veil veil, which supposed it wasn’t as refined as sooner than. Nonetheless you silent had the freedom to alter it.

iMac G4 arm
The adjustable arm grew to become robust, supportive, and mild.


This current day’s iMac is design extra itsy-bitsy. You might probably maybe probably tilt the point out, however shifting it left or lawful entails shifting the full laptop. And the handiest talent to clutch the point out’s top is to matter the iMac on some type of stand (I spend an inelegant ream of paper for the M1 iMac at the Macworld place of work).

You might probably maybe probably strengthen the RAM!

There grew to become a time in Apple’s historic earlier when the company allowed simple accessibility to the Mac’s internals in all of its fashions. And likewise you might probably maybe discontinuance that with the iMac G4—Apple even inspired it with instructions and a video to level you ways. The iMac G4 had two reminiscence slots, one which grew to become deep inside the machine and complicated to procure regular of entry to, and one different that you simply simply might probably maybe with out wretchedness procure to by eradicating the underside panel. Pass fashions of the iMac G4 began with 128MB of RAM, however you might probably maybe strengthen it to a most of 1GB. Subsequent fashions might probably maybe unofficially be upgraded to 2GB.

(Facet point out for a deepest yarn: In 2004, I grew to become an editor for MacAddict and labored on an article that concerned gaining entry to the RAM slot deep inside the iMac G4. It grew to become a refined contrivance and I finished up rendering that iMac inoperable. To high it off, the iMac grew to become a loaner from Apple, and my boss wanted to veil to them what took place. He grew to become really, really pissed off.)

For a Mac that grew to become promoted as a “digital hub” (extra on that in considerably), the flexibility to reinforce grew to become necessary. Digital hub tasks—principally media creation—are RAM hungry, and alongside aspect extra RAM improved effectivity and made the processing wait time considerably extra bearable.

iMac G4 RAM AirPort
The iMac G4 has a person-accessible RAM slot beneath the sinful. The completely different slot is for an AirPort Wi-Fi card—wi-fi connectivity wasn’t normal help then.


Finally, a pair of years after the iMac G4 grew to become discontinued, Apple made up our minds that person-stage Macs would each now not dangle person-upgradable RAM or it’d be very refined to carry out the strengthen your self. And now that Apple silicon has the RAM constructed into the chip, after-decide upgrades are absolutely out of the ask. Sure, situations dangle modified, processors are design extra highly effective now, and RAM is far much less of a hassle, however we silent go over the occasions when upgrading our Macs didn’t suggest making an attempt to uncover a model uncommon one.

It launched the digital hub

Abilities has stepped ahead so grand since 2002, and we dangle as a gradual what computer systems are ready to doing. The skill to carry out films, tune, podcasts, pictures, or any completely different ingenious endeavor is kind of grand frictionless, now—latest Macs are matter up so that you simply simply might probably maybe additionally moreover be up and dealing very quickly.

The iMac G4 grew to become the starting of that sample. Apple envisioned it as a pc for ingenious expression and to that discontinuance, made apparent it had the instruments foremost. The {hardware} and utility blended for what Apple referred to as a “digital hub” and it empowered prospects—help then, there grew to become no App Store, and of us didn’t dangle utility out there over the on-line, so bundled apps had been very essential.

Hardware-wise, the iMac G4 had three USB ports and two FireWire ports for connecting units, fancy cameras and audio converters. It additionally had a video-out connector for mirroring the Mac’s veil veil to a 2nd point out. And it got here with a SuperDrive for burning CDs and DVDs.

iMac G4 ports
Exhausting to mediate an individual Mac ever having this many ports ever one other time.


Nonetheless most critically, the iMac G4 got here with a assortment of utility that made all of it simple—iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes. It additionally got here with AppleWorks, an all-in-one productiveness app, PCalc 2, World Book Encyclopedia, and Otto Mattic. All of this ran on OS X 10.1, and in his overview of the first iMac G4 for Macworld, Jason Snell acknowledged that “our time with this iMac grew to become nearly universally gratifying,” and completely different that wanted to discontinuance with the best possible utility that got here with it.

A Mac to endure in solutions

The iMac G4’s procure lasted for over two years, and it grew to become a successful machine. Nonetheless when it got here time to reinforce the Mac to the PowerPC G5 processor, the company dangle to interchange the laptop’s procure to better accommodate the cooling desires of the uncommon processor. That’s when Apple made up our minds to head with the procure that’s silent in spend this present day.

The iMac G4 can be lengthy lengthy earlier, however 20 years later, it is now not forgotten. Apple’s designs at the current time are fairly protected when put subsequent with the iMac G4, however maybe sometime Apple will uncover a contrivance to risk all of it on product that’s in precise reality at the intersection of know-how and liberal arts with the ingenuity and creativity it mustered up lawful two decades in the past.

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Roman has lined know-how since the early Nineteen Nineties. His occupation began at MacPerson, and he is labored for MacAddict, Mac|Existence, and TechTV.

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