The iMac first went on sale on 15 August 1998 – twenty years ago. Since it launched there have been seven distinct designs as the iMac has evolved through assorted colours, shapes, and sizes, via a multitude of materials, to the sleek silhouette we know today.
When the iMac was introduced it caused shockwaves in the industry and became a design icon. To celebrate two decades of Apple’s all-in-one computer, we have 10 facts about the iMac as well as a history of the iMac in pictures.
The iMac was first introduced by Apple’s co-founder and CEO the late Steve Jobs at an event on 6 May 1998, with Apple’s Steve Jobs saying that it was designed for the “number one use consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the Internet, simply and fast.” The iMac then went on sale on 15 August 1998 and became the best-selling computer that Christmas.
The iMac was credited with saving Apple from certain death (although Steve Jobs, who had returned to the company a year previously also takes much of the credit for that).
The iMac was designed by Jonathan Ive. Ive, who is from Chingford in North East London, has since been knighted (so, officially he is Sir Jonathan Ive). He still works for Apple as the Chief Design Officer.
The original iMac commercial was narrated by actor Jeff Goldblum.
The I in iMac stands for internet and was Apple’s first ‘i’ product. Back in 1998 the internet was rapidly expanding and the first internet weblogs were beginning to appear. Apple billed the iMac as an easy way to get connected to the internet, in just two steps, according to an advertisement of the time. Apple adopted the ‘i’ prefix across much of its consumer lines, including iPod, iPhone, iPad, iLife, iWork and iTunes.
When the original iMac shipped on 15 August 1998 it offered a 233HMz PowerPC G3 processor, 32MB RAM, 4GB hard drive, and a 15-inch monitor. It cost $1,299.
The original iMac introduced USB to the masses as the first Macintosh computer to feature a USB port. It also killed off the floppy drive.
Apple’s original iMac design came in a variety of colours: Bondi Blue, then Lime, Strawberry, Blueberry, Grape, Tangerine, and later on Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power – unlike the rest of the PC industry which at the time tended to come in beige.
At the Macworld Conference and Expo in January 2006 Apple announced that it was moving from PowerPC chips to Intel and marking the occasion it launched a new iMac with an Intel Core Duo processor.
History of the iMac in pictures
15 August 1998 – The iMac G3 was an all-in-one with a translucent blue plastic shell encasing the CRT monitor with 15in display (13.8in viewable), and a 4GB – 60GB hard drive. More colours came over the next few years.
7 January 2002 – The iMac G4 arrived with a hemispherical base and LCD monitor on the end of an arm (some said it looked like a sun flower, others an angle-poised lamp). The display was available in 15in, 17in and 20in varieties and it had a 40GB to 160GB hard drive.
31 August 2004 – iMac G5 was the first Mac to hide its components behind flat display. There were 17in and 20in iterations. The hard drive was available in 40GB to 500GB.
10 January 2006 – The first Intel iMac arrived. The design didn’t change, but this was the first Mac with an Intel chip (Intel Core Duo and Intel Core 2 Duo). A new 24in model joined the line up. The hard drive size increased to 80GB and 750GB versions.
7 August 2007 – The first aluminium iMac launched. Available in 20in or 24in sizes with a 250GB to 1TB HDD.
20 October 2009 – Still aluminium, but this was the first unibody design. Now available in 21.5in or 27in and with a 500GB to 2TB HDD as well as a 256GB SDD.
30 November 2012 – the iMac became thinner, gained a new display and lost the super drive, There were 1TB to 3TB hard drives, new Fusion Drive options, and a 256GB to 1TB SSD option. The 21in version arrived in 2012, while the 27in version followed in January 2013.
October 2014 – The Retina 5K display arrived on the 27in iMac, and then, a year later, Apple bought the Retina 4K display to the 21.5in iMac.
December 2017 – Apple introduce the iMac Pro in June 2017 but it didn’t actually ship until December that year. When it did, the iMac Pro offered 8-, 10-, 14-, or 18-core Intel Xeon processors and came in the new Space Grey shade.