Today in Apple history: Macintosh LC 580 is ready for school

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The Macintosh LC 580 blew away PCs when it came to multimedia performance.
The Macintosh LC 580 blew away PCs when it came to multimedia.
Photo: The Apple Guy/YouTube

April 3: Today in Apple history: Macintosh LC 580 launches and quickly becomes popular in schools April 3, 1995: Apple introduces the Macintosh LC 580, an affordable computer offering good multimedia capabilities on a budget.

It quickly proves popular in the educational market. If you used a Mac in the classroom in the mid-1990s, there’s a good chance it was this very model!

Macintosh LC 580: The Mac that classrooms deserved

If you worry that Apple’s product lines seem more confused now than when Steve Jobs ran the company, rest assured that today’s offerings are nothing compared to the Mac lineup in the mid-1990s.

Without even delving into laptops or the netherworld of third-party Macintosh clones, Apple’s ’90s-era Mac lineup proved hopelessly complicated. Desktop sub-product lines such as the Centris, Quadra, Classic II and Color Classic models competed for mindshare. The LC 500 series sat somewhere in the middle — at the top of the low-end Mac models.

The Macintosh LC 580 (which, confusingly, was sold in Canada, Asia and Australia as the Performa 580CD) was an affordable multimedia Mac. Priced at $1,199, it boasted a Motorola 68LC040 processor running at 33 MHz, a 14-inch color Trinitron display and a double-speed CD-ROM drive. It also came with a video input, en external video connector, speakers and a microphone.

Developed at Apple under the codename “Dragonkid,” it shipped with System 7.5 preinstalled.

The LC 580 did not reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, it offered a higher-performance version of the one-step-down Macintosh LC 575. As with many Macs of the time, it was expandable — in this case from 4MB of soldered DRAM to 52MB with two 72-pin SIMMs.

There’s a good reason Apple did not tinker with its formula too much, however. In the 1990s, schools were one of the few places Macs did very well. Selling an affordable Macintosh that offered multimedia abilities far superior to Windows PCs proved a smart move for the company. The LC 580 delivered on that promise.

Do you remember the Macintosh LC 580? Leave your comments below.

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