Today in Apple history: Mac Color Classic ditches monochrome


The Macintosh Color Classic is the Mac everybody had been waiting for.
The Macintosh Color Classic was the Mac the world had been waiting for.
Photo: Chung Chu/Flickr CC

February 10: Today in Apple history: Macintosh Color Classic ditches monochrome February 10, 1993: Apple launches the Macintosh Color Classic, the company’s first color compact Mac.

As the first desktop Mac to offer an integrated color display, and the last U.S. Mac to offer the compact form factor, this model represents a landmark in the evolution of the Macintosh. A Color Classic unit also happens to be the 10 millionth Macintosh Apple shipped.

From our 2019 perspective of Retina 5K displays and commonplace 27-inch screens, it seems amazing that the Color Classic wowed us in this department. But it did.

The 10-inch Sony Trinitron color display measured a whole inch larger than the screens previous compact Macs relied upon. Meanwhile, its 256 colors (upgradeable to thousands with the “Mystic” 68040 upgrade) looked astonishingly sharp on the 512×384-pixel monitor (again, upgradeable to 640×480).

The Color Classic. Grinning child not included
The Macintosh Color Classic. Grinning child not included.
Photo: Apple

Both of these upgrades reveal something cool about the Color Classic: It was one of the most modified and modifiable Macs in history.

While Apple’s early Macs sealed their users off from upgrading them (a strategy that certainly sounds familiar to modern Apple users), the Color Classic could be easily modified.

This allowed for upgrades like swapping out the 10MB RAM and 32-bit 68030 CPU to extend the machine’s life.

Adding to this user-friendly aspect of the Color Classic was the fact that it allowed for Apple IIe emulation, courtesy of a PDS card.

The machine finally fulfilled the promise of the original Macintosh. “In many ways … the compact Mac everyone’s been waiting for since, well, since 1984,” said MacUser magazine in April 1993.

Mac Color Classic II perfects the formula

The Color Classic got even better six months later when Apple introduced the Color Classic II. This proved frustrating for early adopters, but good for the rest of us.

The Mac Color Classic II doubled the CPU speed and RAM capacity of the original, making it a far beefier machine. That meant it would last longer before you would need to break out your upgrade tools.

Sadly, this great sequel never went up for sale in the United States. However, if you fancy picking up a Color Classic today, this is the one to get your hands on if you can.

Do you remember the Macintosh Color Classic? Leave your comments and recollections below.