Today in Apple history: iMac G4 gets super-sized screen


The iMac G4 brings a
The iMac G4 brings a "breathtaking" giant screen to desktops everywhere.
Photo: Apple

July 17: Today in Apple history: iMac G4 brings super-sized screen July 17, 2002: Apple ships a new super-sized iMac G4, offering a 17-inch widescreen LCD display that becomes the envy of most computer users at the time.

“The best consumer desktop just got even better,” says Steve Jobs of Apple’s new all-in-one computer in a press release. “Having this gorgeous 17-inch flat screen floating in mid-air right in front of you is simply breathtaking. There’s nothing like it in the PC world.” He wasn’t wrong!

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iMac G4: A natural progression for Apple

The iMac G4, first released with a 15-inch screen on January 7, 2002, is probably my favorite iMac in Apple history. As Jobs noted, it looked totally unlike every other computer available at the time. However, while it was very much its own thing, it linked many ideas revolving around Apple at the time.

For starters, it represented a midpoint between the eye-catching, cutesy design of the iMac G3 and iBook, and the more austere minimalism of Apple’s later devices.

It also echoed the Luxo lamp (Pixar’s mascot), while tying back to Apple’s nature-inspired hippie roots with a design based on a sunflower.

In Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, he tells the story of Jobs and Apple design chief Jony Ive struggling to come up with a new look for the next-gen iMac. The pair wound up in Jobs’ garden, where they came up with the idea of a computer with a movable head that could be angled like a sunflower reaching for the sun.

They achieved this using a cantilevered, fully posable metal arm to support the iMac G4 screen. Contrary to fears at the time, they did it without risking the whole thing falling over.

How powerful was the iMac G4 17-inch?

So, what about the 17-inch iMac G4 specs? The computer came with an 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processor, an Nvidia GeForce4 MX graphics card, an Apple SuperDrive for playing and burning CDs and DVDs, and an 80GB hard drive. (Apple proudly boasted it could “hold more than six hours of video, 15,000 songs and 73,000 digital photos.”)

The machine started at $1,999 (more than $3,300 in today’s money). A few years later, Apple upped the screen size one more time by introducing a 20-inch iMac G4.

Did you ever get your hands on one of these pivotal iMacs? Tell us what you thought about the eye-catching new design in the comments below.


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