Apple’s online store update this morning quietly put to rest its active retail sale of the venerable CRT-based iMac. During a maintenance update this morning, references to the 15 inch CRT-based iMac were pulled from public view, though they remain present on Apple’s Store for Education Web site.
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It’s the end of a chapter of Apple history that started in 1998, when Apple began selling the original Bondi Blue-colored iMac. The iMac quickly evolved into myriad fruit and nature-inspired colors with a constantly changing array of features — CPU upgrades, the addition of FireWire and slot-loading optical drives, and other changes.
In January 2002 Apple replaced the CRT-based iMac with the flat-panel iMac, which continues production today in both 15 inch and 17 inch forms, priced at US$1,299 and up — the original price of the CRT-based iMac. Following the flat-panel iMac’s introduction, Apple CFO Fred Anderson was questioned about the CRT-based iMac’s continued availability during a quarterly conference call with analysts. Noting that Apple needed an inexpensive machine to appeal to consumers and schools alike, Anderson remarked “Long live the original iMac.”
Although the original iMac may be a fading memory, its spirit lives on. In April 2002, Apple released the eMac, a CRT-based 17-inch all-in-one design featuring a faster processor and other improvements over the original iMac. Apple initially targeted the eMac specifically at educational institutions that might have otherwise opted for the original iMac — hence the “e” in “eMac” — but overwhelming public demand soon caused Apple to rethink their strategy, and the eMac has been available to consumers directly from Apple and Apple resellers since then.