Today in Apple history: Multimedia Macs take on the world

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LC 630 Macintosh
Did you own one of the 630 series Macintoshes?
Photo: Computers.popcorn

July 18: Today in Apple history: Apple launches Quadra, Performa and LC 630 Macintoshes July 18, 1994: Apple launches the Quadra, Performa and LC 630 Macintoshes, three similar computers with slight differences tailored for the professional, home and educational markets.

Buyers can configure the new 630 series of Macs for less than $2,000. Today, the idea of getting a decent multimedia computer for $3,300 (adjusted for inflation) sounds very reasonable, but in 1994 these new Macs looked like a total steal.

The previous top-end Macs — the Quadra 700 and Quadra 900 — cost between $6,000 and $8,500. That’s the equivalent of between $10,000 and $15,000 in today’s terms.

Apple wanted to bring down this price while still giving users the ability to tap into exciting new technologies like a CD-ROM drive, Apple’s QuickTime 2.0 software, and a comm slot for a modem or Ethernet card.

630 series Macs: All things to all people

Cupertino also launched three new multimedia add-ons, which gave the Macs a range of capabilities:

  • Apple Video card offered composite video, S-video input, audio in, video overlay and 320×240 video window.
  • Apple Video/TV added a television tuner and remote control for TV and CD-ROM to basic Apple Video.
  • The high-end Apple Presentation System let users send video to large-screen TVs and print to VCR tapes.

The big difference between the Quadra and the other two models came down to the processor. The Quadra 630 was the last Mac designed around the Motorola 68040 processor, while a cheaper Motorola 68LC040 powered the LC and Performa versions. All of them ran at 33 MHz.

In all, the 630 models were good — if not necessarily inspiring — Macintoshes. Apple tried to appeal to average customers with these kitted-out multimedia Macs. The education- and home-oriented models, while less powerful, proved more successful than the pro-oriented Quadra model. Many considered the high-end Quadra underpowered for its users’ main tasks. (Sound familiar?)

Apple continued to walk this line over the years, trying to be all things to all people without pushing too far in any one direction.

Did you own a Quadra, Performa or LC 630 Mac? Tell us how you used these multimedia Macs in the comments section below.