Old Next To New: How Far We’ve Come



I just love this picture. It sums up perfectly the progress that’s been made in computing over the last couple of decades. That which was once beige and plasticky is now sleek and silvery. (I know some people still swear by those old clacky keyboards, though: John Gruber once called the Extended Keyboard II “the single best hardware product Apple has ever manufactured.”)


You get the same feel from this one. I remember being utterly amazed by the G4 iMac’s design. I borrowed one from Apple to write a review, and marveled at the computer’s shiny hinged neck and (for the time) large, bright display. Now compare it to a modern iMac. It looks like a toy. (Those of you still using a G4 iMac and enjoying it, get in touch to tell me how and why. Send pics.)

(Photos used under Creative Commons licence. Thanks to: Blakespot and Editor B


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26 responses to “Old Next To New: How Far We’ve Come”

  1. DJ says:

    To the comparos you could add my Apple 145b laptop vs. my current MacBook Pro. The elderly 145b lives in a cupboard but still works a treat when I fire it up, as does my even older SE30 4/40… ah, the old days!

    Gimme state of the art though, as they are only now just beginning to do what I’ve always wanted.

  2. firesign says:

    i’m still using a g4/700 imac. i have it in the bedroom and mostly use it to stream music. even still has the “eyeball” speakers.

  3. Andronicus says:

    I am still using a G4 iMac running at 1.25Ghz and would not trade it for the world. Yes, I know the new screens are larger and better and the speed is faster, but only the G4 has a screen that will pivot 360 degrees, tilt and move up and down. As far as the design, the new iMac design, (which is aging really quickly) leaves me cold, while the old G4 design is still warm and inviting, if just a little dated. I guess its more like a robot desk-pet than an appliance.

  4. iDave says:

    On the iMac G4: now you’re speaking my language.

    I got lucky a few months ago, shopping around on eBay, and grabbed a prestine-condition iMac G4. It came in its original box, with the original packaging, discs, and manuals (check out pictures here) – plus the keyboard, mouse, and speakers. Here’s a little something I wrote up at the time I bought it.

    My lust for a G4 iMac started back in college, when it was originally released. I worked on our school newspaper, and we were fortunate to get a grant to purchase four Quicksilver PowerMac G4s. But I remember wishing they were iMacs because I loved the design so much.

    Since then, I’ve been on a quest to grab an iMac G4 in decent shape. Originally I wanted a 17″ (or bigger) running at 1.0+ Ghz, but when I found my 15″ iMac with disks for OS X 10.3 and 10.4 and in such great shape, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. My original plan was to purchase the G4, keep the OS discs, and auction off the iMac so I could grab a larger model. But you know what? I’m content with it. And now it’s my main machine (along with my iBook G4). It came installed with Tiger and 768 MB of RAM running at 800 Mhz, and it only slows down when I run iPhoto. It handles everything else – including some Adobe Cruite Suite work – just fine. The only upgrade it needs are a few USB 2.0 ports; the USB 1.0 ports don’t work well enough with my iPod and iPhone.

    I’ll admit that when I helped a friend purchase a new aluminum iMac, I felt that tickle of envy again. Perhaps someday I’ll get one. But until then, I’m very happy with my iMac G4. It’s still my favorite Mac design, and it has such a unique look and personality that visitors compliment it all the time. It sits comfortably right next to my Bondi Blue iMac G3, running OS 9, which I use for games and some Quicken budgeting.

    Great post, by the way. Seeing those keyboards next to each other was a great reminder of how far we’ve come.

  5. BigFat Fred says:

    i have a G3 333Mhz slot loading iMac running Panther , it is in daily use at home, my daughter uses it to surf childrens websites, she also uses it with a freeware drawing program for kids called Tux Paint

    I paid £70 for it about 4 years ago, it’s virtually bomb proof … It looks so cool even sat next to my Macbook Air and my 23″ ACD

    A true computing icon

  6. Beast_m says:

    That makes me feel bad
    i still have g4 imac 800mhz as my main machine
    it still serves well

    even for stuff like photoshop and illustrator
    They told me that macs last long when i bought it(it was my first)
    yet i didnt realize i wont feel its slow-ness over the years. I really cant imagine how faster newer machines are, they say they are 6-7 times faster

    I do on it everything the common computer user would, music, video, browsing, email,bittorent and it works fine. It cant do HD video though, or run current games.

    Only complaint is that it could be snappier than it is

  7. dk jones says:

    i still have the 1st new iMac i ever bought–a 1GHz G4 17″. it got upgraded w/ an Airport Extreme card & 256 MB more RAM for a total of 512 & i currently house it @ my church where i do our weekly bulletin & other publishing w/ iWork 08. it’s running OS 10.5 even though it’s about @ the end for OS upgrades, i love it & it still does everything i need it to do–not to mention it has FireWire!!

  8. Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira says:

    Those iMac G4 flat panel speakers ARE the best speakers from Apple.

  9. Neil Anderson says:

    I’ll bet that old keyboard still works.

  10. Dan says:

    I’ve always wanted an iMac G4, mostly due to the very neat (and useful) display… Even so, i make good use of my iMac G3s (a 400 mhz DVSE and a Flower Power) and PowerMac G4 (400 Mhz AGP/Sawtooth).

    Even with a 1.67 Ghz Powerbook and a 2.2 Ghz MacBook Pro sitting here on my desk, my PowerMac’s still my secondary computer – I use it for everything from email and iTunes to bittorrent downloading and burning DVDs. With a DVD burner and a USB 2 card (and attached 1 TB drive), it makes an excellent file server and backup machine, and with 1.5 GB of RAM and two 80 GB hard drives, Tiger feels just as snappy on the old G4 as it does with the Powerbook – although it can’t do video (even youtube gives it trouble). Plus, it still runs OS 9 – so I can still play all my old games…

    Man, that top picture is making me feel old – and I’m still in college! I remember using those noisy things on the Apple II’s my elementary school before they updated to new Mac IIs with astounding 16-color displays! And Oregon Trail! :)

  11. C.H. says:

    A friend of mine still has the iMac G4 17″ as his main machine and just upgraded the hard drive. He likes the form factor, but it’s feeling a little pokey these days. His reason for keeping it is simple—money.

  12. Guest says:

    I have an old eMac that gets used for scanning, plus it also has an external hard drive that acts as a second back up for my more modern Macs.

    Up until a few days ago my nephews and niece regularly used my old indigo iBook Clamshell for surfing and the odd game, but it’s suddenly stopped charging.

    I know someone that still uses an iMac G4 17″ as his main machine.

  13. blakespot says:

    @Partners In Grime: Yep, the Lisa 2 keyboard works great. It’s part of my functional Lisa 2 setup.


    For what it’s worth, I think the Lisa keyboard feels at least as good as the new, flat Apple keyboard. For my main setup, I use a Matias TactilePro which feels dramatically superior to the new Apple keyboard. And it’s loud, loud, loud. :-)