Today in Apple history: Performa 6360 is a low-cost multimedia Mac

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The Performa 6320CD Mac delivered a great price-to-performance ratio.
The Performa 6320CD Mac delivered great performance for the price, luring new users.
Photo: Shrine of Apple

October 17: Today in Apple history: Apple launches Performa 6360, a low-cost multimedia Mac October 17, 1996: Apple launches its Performa 6360 Mac, sold elsewhere in the world as the Power Macintosh 6300/160.

An impressive multimedia Mac, the Performa 6360 comes bundled with a TV/video card. It also lets users make phone calls, listen to CDs, and watch television — all of which seemed amazingly futuristic at the time. As Macs went, it was pretty affordable, too.

The Performa 6360 used the same case as the previous year’s Performa 6200. However, Apple vastly improved the computer’s insides. The Mac came with a new “Alchemy” motherboard with 64-bit data path and 64-bit DIMM RAM, PCI slot and 160 MHz 603e CPU. It also boasted an eight-speed CD-ROM drive, 28.8K modem and color CRT monitor.

Performa 6360: A great entry-level Mac

The 1996 Performa Macs jump out at me for a reason that’s not particularly common with Apple products — and certainly wasn’t at the time. This was the price point, which made them a good choice for people wanting to buy an affordable computer.

Today, it’s perfectly possible to argue that Apple products are affordable in terms of cost versus ability. That argument could even be made in the 1990s, when a Mac could easily run into the mid-four figures (the Twentieth Anniversary Mac cost $7,499 in 1997 — the equivalent of $11,054 today.)

However, the Performa 6360 shipped for just $1,499, which made it cheap even when compared to far-less-able PCs of the era. “These Performas represent the best price/performance value in either PCs [or Macintoshes],” analyst Tim Bajarin said at the time.

The tradeoff? Performas still tended to be underpowered, although the 160 MHz 6360 considerably outperformed its predecessors. Certainly, it wasn’t the high-spec Mac that some pro-level users would have needed at the time. But as far as a home Macintosh that would blow away your friend’s PC went, this was a winner.

Do you remember the Performa 6360? Leave your comments below.