Pin Me

The History of Apple's iMac Computers

written by: •edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 1/6/2011

A look at how the iMac computer has evolved over the years. Includes photos of all previous models.

  • slide 1 of 6

    iMac History

    The success of Apple’s iMac line of computers helped change the way computers are designed. When they were first released, some hardcore PC users laughed at Apple’s colorful, quirky line-up of machines. However, iMac computers started popping up in movies and on television shows, and pretty soon people all over America were bringing them home. Here’s a short history on the Apple iMac and how far this product line has come since it debuted.

  • slide 2 of 6

    Macintosh 128k

    Mac128k The first iMac was really a remake of the Macintosh 128k. Apple borrowed heavily from the design of this classic computer, including the all-in-one structure and even the handle on top. Just look at the photo of the Mac 128k and compare it to the iMac G3 and the similarities are obvious. What Apple did was take one of their most successful computer designs and updated it, which turned out to be a genius move. You can still find plenty working models of this computer on eBay.

    The Mac 128k was first released in January of 1984 and famously introduced itself at an Apple conference using its text-to-speech capability. The crowd went wild when the machine said, "Hello."

  • slide 3 of 6

    Apple iMac G3

    imacG3 This was the original iMac design that blew people away when it first came out in August of 1998. During the time when most computers came in beige cases, Apple put out this crazy-looking package with an opaque case so you could see the components inside. It bore somewhat of a resemblance to the newly redesigned Volkswagen Beetle car, which just so happened to debut the same year. I don’t think that was a coincidence.

    The first G3 models came with a 233 megahertz processor and were available in ‘bondi blue’ color. According to Apple, the ‘I’ in iMac stood for Internet, because at the time the dotcom thing was booming and the whole world was getting online. Later models of the G3 would include faster processors and better hardware, plus more colors to choose from.

    Apple discontinued the G3 in 2003, but not before it helped to kick off the pink laptop phenomenon.

  • slide 4 of 6

    Apple iMac G4

    imacG4 The G4 model iMac is often referred to as the ‘desk lamp’ model because it looks like a lamp with its large base and swivel screen. It was one of the most unique computer designs ever made. All of the computer components were in the dome-shaped base. It originally debuted with a 15” flat panel monitor and a 700 megahertz processor. Later models would have faster components and bigger monitors, including a 17” and even a 20” option.

    Apple released the first G4 in January of 2002. It was discontinued in early 2005.

  • slide 5 of 6

    Apple iMac G5

    imacG5 Apple released the ‘chin’ model iMac G5 in the late summer of 2004, and it is the same basic design they still use today. It originally came with a 1.6 GHz processor and a built-in 17” LCD monitor. Other models included a 1.8 GHz processor with either a 17” or 20” monitor. These computers looked like giant monitors, but had all the computing components built into them, so all of the connections were on the back and sides. It’s one of these G5 iMacs that is shown getting Windows BSOD (blue screen of death) errors in the famous commercial.

    The G5 series was discontinued in January 2006 when the Intel-based Apple computers came out.

  • slide 6 of 6

    Apple and Intel

    iMac-intel In early 2006, Apple released the first iMac model with an Intel brand 1.83GHz Core Duo processor. All subsequent models would also feature Intel processors. Since then, Apple has dropped the G# designation and just labels the machines by their processor speed. As of this writing, the latest model features a whopping 27” monitor and an Intel quad-core 2.66 GHz processor with 4 GB of memory and an ATI Radeon HD 4850 video card built in, all for $1999.

    If you are thinking of getting into iPhone app development, you will need one of these Intel-based Macs to create the apps.