Blast from the Past: Jony Ive Shows Off the Twentieth Anniversay Mac (TAM)

Back in 1997 at the beginning of the Second Jobs Dynasty, Apple introduced a special edition Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (TAM) to celebrate the company’s 20th year in business. The TAM was positioned as a high-end luxury system, selling for $7000 and delivered by a tuxedo clad technician, but highlighted where Apple was heading in industrial design with a vertical orientation, elegant fit and finish, and an LCD display later adopted by the iMac.

In this promotional video a (then) relatively unknown Apple designer named Jony Ive (with a full head of hair) shows off his newest baby and explains the company’s design philosophy. The TAM was a flop in the marketplace but foreshadowed Apple’s subsequent design renaissance, and has since become a coveted collector’s item.

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  • larrymadill

    I really wanted one of these when they came out. I have no idea why looking back at it, but when I was 16 the TAM seemed so cool

  • Mark

    I’ll be honest, even back then, 7000 bucks for what essentially an upright PowerBook 170 was a bit brutal. It looked nice but it wasn’t really anything special. That’s why it was a flop – anyone with a modicum of knowledge could see it was completely overpriced.

  • FakeGibbyHaynes

    Jony sounds a bit like Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel.
    “It’s like, how much more Mac could it be? And the answer is none! None more Mac.”

  • VotersRights

    Great video. TAM’s pop up on eBay every now and then and still are worth a lot of $$$. Gorgeous machines.

  • monetoliverdeplace

    The guy at the desk at :57 looks a lot like Stephen Colbert. I purpose that he’s been such a fan of Apple he shot back in time just to be a part of this 20th anniversary release.

  • monkeyrun

    omg .. I remember seeing this video back in the days …..

  • Len Williams

    Back in 97 the 20th Anniversary Mac was groundbreaking in its design features. In retrospect it now looks quaint and “old-fashioned”. The current iMac’s design has refined the all-in-one format considerably as well as affordably in comparison. Of course the most amazing part of our modern day Macs is OS X. When I look back at OS 9, it looks positively stone age. Then I’m reminded that we’re now at OS X 10.7, and that within a couple of years we’ll be possibly looking at OS 11. It will be interesting to see what Tim and crew come up with to amaze and impress us with in the coming years.

  • prof_peabody

    This just highlights was I like the least about Jonny Ive.  He gives this same kind of impassioned speech, complete with heavy pauses and earnest staring into the camera for every single product he designs.  

    The 20th Anniversary Mac is a *horrible* piece of kit and it was on the day it was released.  The fact that he gives it the same treatment as he did some of his more interesting and well designed creations just shows how completely *phoney* these product videos are (if you can’t tell from the timbre of his voice already that is).  

  • prof_peabody

    Exactly.  This thing was so unpopular they only made a small number of them anyway.  The only reason they are worth anything at all is the scarcity.  

    People bash “the Cube” all the time as an Apple “failure” but this thing couldn’t have sold even a fraction of a fraction of the Cubes sales.  It’s a horrifically overpriced POS and it was when it was released, not just in retrospect. 

  • Kendall Tawes

    More like a PowerBook 3400 which at the time of its release was the fastest laptop ever made. It also cost $6500 for the 240 MHz PowerPC 603ev model while the TAM was a 250 MHz 603e model and had twice the graphics memory at a staggering 2 MB. Add the Bose speakers and we know why it costs so much as Bose speakers are still expensive as can be.

    P. S. A PowerBook 170 would be from 1991. It had a 25 MHz Motorola 68030 processor, a B/W screen, and at most a 80 MB hard drive. Comparing a TAM to that would be like comparing an iPhone to an original iPod.

  • mullman

    I had two, and at the time it was an great machine.
    Fantastic sound system.

About the author

Adam RosenAdam Rosen is an Apple certified IT consultant specializing in Macintosh systems new and old. He lives in Boston with two cats and too many possessions. In addition to membership in the Cult of Mac, Adam has written for Low End Mac and is curator of the Vintage Mac Museum. He also enjoys a good libation.

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