Today in Apple history: New Power Mac is faster and more expandable

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Power Macintosh 9500
This was the iMac Pro of its day.
Photo: Übernommen/Wikipedia CC

June 19: Today in Apple history: Apple launches Power Macintosh 9500, which is faster and more expandable than previous models June 19, 1995: Apple releases the Power Macintosh 9500, a high-end Mac that boasts a second-generation PowerPC chip that’s much faster than its predecessor.

The Power Mac 9500 is also significant for coming with six Peripheral Component Interconnect, or PCI, slots. They allow owners to attach hardware using the Intel-developed industry standard connection. Along with seven bays for internal drives and a swappable daughterboard, this makes the 9500 the most expandable Power Mac ever produced.

Power Macintosh 9500: A significant step up

This machine looked similar to previous Apple mini-towers like the Power Mac 8100 (which shipped in 1994) and the Macintosh Quadra 800 (which shipped a year before that). Visually, the biggest difference from the Power Mac 8100 was that the new Power Mac 9500 measured a few inches taller.

Inside, however, major changes lurked. While the 8100 used the first-gen PowerPC 601 processor, running at 110 MHz, the 9500 came in 120 MHz and 130 MHz models. This made it blisteringly fast at the time: 50 percent faster than the Power Mac 8100. It even proved astonishingly speedy next to a Pentium 133 MHz processor, running between 72 percent and 87 percent faster for certain operations.

Given that 1995 marked the height of Apple’s mid-1990s identity crisis, as Microsoft’s Windows 95 surged ahead, the Power Mac 9500 provided proof positive that you could rely on Apple if you were serious about computers.

Another big selling point? The Power Mac 9500 CPU connected via an easily swappable daughterboard, making upgrades easier and cheaper. Immediately, a variety of third-party upgrades and accelerators came on the market.

Even more Power Mac 9500 upgrades

From day one, upgraders could boost their Power Mac 9500 up to 150 MHz. Before too long, users could upgrade to single-processor cards up to 200 MHz. Or they could splash out for a dual-processor card featuring twin 180 MHz CPUs. With the right G4 CPU upgrade, owners of the Power Mac 9500 still could use the latest Mac operating system, OS X Leopard, in 2007.

In terms of storage, customers who bought the Power Mac 9500/120 received a hard drive with 1GB. This increased to 2 gigs for the higher-end Power Mac 950/130. The 120 featured a 4x CD-ROM, while the 130 came with an 8x CD drive.

The decision to replace Apple’s standard NuBus architecture — also used in Steve Jobs’ NeXT Computer — in favor of the Intel-designed PCI connector was considered the biggest news at the time. This move suddenly opened up Macs to a massive number of standard peripherals previously available only to PC owners.

All of that power and expandability came at a price, of course. If you wanted the Power Macintosh 9500 — basically the iMac Pro of its day — you needed to cough up $5,299 as a starting price. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $8,500 today. It didn’t come with a monitor, either!

Tell us about your first Mac

Did you own a Power Macintosh 9500? What was the first Mac you ever bought or used regularly? Leave your comments below.