It’s the weekend, so news will be light. Time to take a trip back in time and look at some retro small form factor PCs with a Retro Relook. This week is focused on Apple and some vintage SFF Macintosh machines.
Let’s start with the Macintosh LC. If you’re old enough, you may remember this being in your schools. The L stood for low and the C stood for cost. This was my first computer, and I own a nearly perfect one today. I can personally attest that they should have added an S to the name for slow. You got a 16Mhz Motorola 68020 32bit CPU gimped by a 16bit bus, 2MB of RAM, and no floating point support. The system was capped to 10MB of RAM making support for surfing a slow and painful experience. There was a Motorola 68040 upgrade card eventually released which boosted performance substantially and allowed for Mac OS 8 and higher ram limits, but the original system was just slow.
Yours for only $2,499…in 1990. That’s $4,950 in 2020’s dollars.
The neat thing about this machine is the Pizza Box case. It’s incredibly thin, but still provides a PDS expansion slot, room for a floppy drive, and room for a 3.5″ hard drive.
NeXT up is the Apple Color Classic. Designed as a modern take on the original Mac Classic, it had a 68030, and a built-in 10-inch CRT monitor at a incredible 512×384 resolution. This little machine ended up catching the hearts of Macintosh fans who figured out all sorts of ways to upgrade it. Some even managed to fit a 500MHz G3 into them. That’s like going from a Intel 386 to a Pentium II 500MHz.
Continuing down the Mac timeline, we come to the Power Macintosh 6100/66. This was a first generation Motorola Power PC 601 RISC CPU powered system. It wasn’t the smallest Mac ever made, though it was small for its time. Why am I including it? Well, because while the Mac 6100 itself wasn’t the smallest, there was a version that included a full Intel 486 system on an expansion card built into it. Now you have two full PCs in one, which makes it SFF for its time. Lazy Game Reviews did a great look at it, so check that at below.
Now, let’s take a look at the legendary beginning of modern Mac design with the original iMac. This machine was small for its time, but packed a lot of features in its Bondi Blue shell. You got a G3 CPU, ATI 3D graphics, built-in sound, and decent built-in display. It also included the worst mouse in Apple history. All for just $1,299 US.
On a personal note, I worked at CompUSA as a Mac Rep for the old Apple Store Within a Store when this machine launched. It was incredibly popular, with people jumping ship from Windows to Mac OS at a surprising rate. It was also one of the few retail machines I could put the Star Wars Phantom Menace trailer on and have it play smoothly. This was a fun little computer for its time.
Now let’s move beyond the comforting blue of the iMac to the industrial gray of the Mac G4 Cube. This was Apples first true SFF system by most modern standards. It packed quiet a bit of horsepower into a small case that wouldn’t look out of place on a desk today. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the sales hit Apple was hoping for.
Last but certainly not least, I present the Mac Mini. This machine was Apple’s first truly tiny Mac. It’s basically the NUC before the NUC was a thing. I actually have an Intel Core 2 Duo based one, but it debuted as a G4 powered machine. It lives on today with the new Apple M1 ARM RISC based systems, though it not longer includes an optical drive.
Well, that’s the SFF Retro Roundup for this week. Enjoy your weekend!