Apple's 'Then and Now' page compares original 1998 iMac with 2015 models

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 2015
To help market its latest iMacs, Apple on Tuesday posted a "Then and Now" page on its website, showcasing how far the product has come from 1998's original "gumdrop" iMac.




Scrolling through the page, Apple claims that its 2015 hardware can display 14 million more pixels, with graphics running a whopping 62,000 times faster. It's also said to have 366 times more processing speed, 1,000 times more RAM, and 750 times the storage capacity.

The exact system specifications used in the comparison aren't mentioned, but the page is linked from a section on the main iMac site talking about Retina displays.

The stock configuration of the 21.5-inch 4K iMac sports a 3.1-gigahertz Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM, a 1-terabyte hard drive, and an integrated Intel Iris Pro 6200 graphics chip. 27-inch 5K iMacs are even more powerful, with customization enabling things like a 4-gigahertz Core i7 CPU, up to 32 gigabytes of RAM, and a Radeon R9 M395X video card with 4 gigabytes of VRAM.

The original iMac had a 233MHz PowerPC 750 processor, 32 megabytes of RAM, a 4-gigabyte hard drive, and a 13.8-inch 1024x768 display, with graphics powered by an ATI Rage IIc sporting 2 megabytes of memory.

The major significance of the computer though was its Internet-oriented design, incorporating an Ethernet port and a 56K modem. It was also the first computer to adopt USB as standard, and it upset some earlier Mac owners by completely abandoning floppy drives in favor of CD-ROMs. It was moreover the first major Apple product released after the return of Steve Jobs, and helped reinvigorate the company financially.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    The similarities are still visible on the back...

    The Apple logo
    The power plug and button
    The vent grill
  • Reply 2 of 49

    Bought the iMac G3/400 DV SE when it was first released.  Have had several different powerbooks, MacBooks, iMacs, PowerMacs, and various Pads, Pods and Phones since.  This first machine was truly different though, and was what made computing fun again.  It had a heart and a character that was unique.  Still miss it to this day.

  • Reply 3 of 49
    19831983 Posts: 1,183member

    Technologically the original iMac is a dinosaur, but that design still looks fresh modern and utterly unique to this day! I miss it too.

  • Reply 4 of 49
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 715editor
    It's important to note that the target consumer is a different user now.

    The original iMac was priced at $1299. The current iMac is $1999 before upgrades, costing more than a PowerMac did back when it was introduced.

    Granted, it's a much more capable machine, but it's no longer the affordable machine it once was. For home users looking for an affordable machine, you have to look at the MacBook or MacBook Air line.

    The old quadrant layout of consumer/professional-portable/desktop is gone, and the current lineup can't be jammed into it well.
  • Reply 5 of 49
    Crappy video card then, crappy video card now. Except the 27" top-of-thge-line that'll set you back $3,300 CDN. Nothing's really changed. (Not a hater, owned Apple exclusively since my Apple II.)
  • Reply 6 of 49
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 715editor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 1983 View Post

     

    Technologically the original iMac is a dinosaur, but that design still looks fresh modern and utterly unique to this day! I miss it too.




    Yet functionally, everything you could do back then task-wise, you still do today. Granted, it's almost impossible to browse today's web on Mac OS 9 browsers, but the tools were largely there.

  • Reply 7 of 49
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,720member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vmarks View Post



    It's important to note that the target consumer is a different user now.



    The original iMac was priced at $1299. The current iMac is $1999 before upgrades, costing more than a PowerMac did back when it was introduced.



    Granted, it's a much more capable machine, but it's no longer the affordable machine it once was. For home users looking for an affordable machine, you have to look at the MacBook or MacBook Air line.



    The old quadrant layout of consumer/professional-portable/desktop is gone, and the current lineup can't be jammed into it well.

     

    $1299 in 1998 dollars would currently be $1891 in 2015 dollars:  http://www.in2013dollars.com/1998-dollars-in-2015?amount=1299

     

    That's a heck of a lot more computing power and speed for what amounts to an extra Benjamin.

  • Reply 8 of 49
    The original iMac booted into Mac OS 9.
    The new iMac boots into Mac OS X.

    You'd think we be on Mac OS 20 by now. /s
  • Reply 9 of 49
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vmarks View Post



    The original iMac was priced at $1299. The current iMac is $1999 before upgrades, costing more than a PowerMac did back when it was introduced.

     Actually, the new iMac starts at $1099, so $200 cheaper.

    http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/imac

  • Reply 10 of 49

    The o

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    The original iMac booted into Mac OS 9.

    The new iMac boots into Mac OS X.



    You'd think we be on Mac OS 20 by now. /s

    The original iMac came with OS 8.1 in summer 98. OS 8.5 wasnt released until the Autumn. OS9 didnt appear until 1999

  • Reply 11 of 49
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,720member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    The original iMac booted into Mac OS 9.

    The new iMac boots into Mac OS X.



    You'd think we be on Mac OS 20 by now. /s

     

    OS 9 + OS X 10.0 + 10.1 +10.2 +10.3 +10.4 +10.5 +10.6 +10.7 + 10.8 + 10.9 + 10.10 + 10.11 ? OS 21

     

    ;)

  • Reply 12 of 49
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vmarks View Post



    It's important to note that the target consumer is a different user now.



    The original iMac was priced at $1299. The current iMac is $1999 before upgrades, costing more than a PowerMac did back when it was introduced.



    Granted, it's a much more capable machine, but it's no longer the affordable machine it once was. For home users looking for an affordable machine, you have to look at the MacBook or MacBook Air line.



    The old quadrant layout of consumer/professional-portable/desktop is gone, and the current lineup can't be jammed into it well.

    BS.

     

    The "current" iMac starts at $1,099, while the new 4k Retina iMac starts at $1,499. Larger screen. Smaller desktop footprint. Far more capable. AND cheaper, after you factor in 12 years worth of inflation.

     

    Only when you move up to the larger 5k Retina iMac do you find anything in that "$1999 before upgrades" price point that you cite. And that would be for an "upgraded" model, since the base 5k configuration starts at $1,799.

     

    If you're going to bemoan how "it's no longer the affordable machine it once was" maybe you should look up the actual pricing first.

  • Reply 13 of 49
    Would be cool if they refined and brought back the "Luxo lamp" iMac. More flexible for monitor positioning.
  • Reply 14 of 49
    A market campaign comparing their latest lineup to 17 year old machines - seriously?? What the hell is Apple thinking?! Between this and the announcement of non-improvement input peripherals, it sounds like a number of "C-list" employees are slipping through the cracks... regardless of Apple's business philosophy, this is a p!$* poor way to market their products.

    When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the 90's, he hated what their marketing staff was doing and cleaned house, and also threw out all their old "museum display" Macs. Did not want the company looking back, under any circumstances; a tech company that looks to the past is one that is standing still. I think the upper-upper management needs to reflect hard on "what Steve would do" in this instant, and clean house again.
  • Reply 15 of 49

    Want to deflect criticism of a lackluster update? Compare it to machines from 17 years ago. Clever.

  • Reply 16 of 49
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

    You'd think we be on Mac OS 20 by now. /s



    Originally Posted by John.B View Post

    OS 9 + OS X 10.0 + 10.1 +10.2 +10.3 +10.4 +10.5 +10.6 +10.7 + 10.8 + 10.9 + 10.10 + 10.11 ? OS 21


     

    No, guys, geez, it’s so simple; it’s not going to be “iPhone 5”!

     

    Wait, what’re we talking about? 

  • Reply 17 of 49
    jollypaul wrote: »
    Want to deflect criticism of a lackluster update? Compare it to machines from 17 years ago. Clever.

    The glass is half empty. Even when it's completely full.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    A market campaign comparing their latest lineup to 17 year old machines - seriously?? What the hell is Apple thinking?! Between this and the announcement of non-improvement input peripherals, it sounds like a number of "C-list" employees are slipping through the cracks... regardless of Apple's business philosophy, this is a p!$* poor way to market their products.

    When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the 90's, he hated what their marketing staff was doing and cleaned house, and also threw out all their old "museum display" Macs. Did not want the company looking back, under any circumstances; a tech company that looks to the past is one that is standing still. I think the upper-upper management needs to reflect hard on "what Steve would do" in this instant, and clean house again.

    What would Steve do? Whatever I claim he would do. Because he's dead and can never speak for himself.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,453member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vmarks View Post



    It's important to note that the target consumer is a different user now.



    The original iMac was priced at $1299. The current iMac is $1999 before upgrades, costing more than a PowerMac did back when it was introduced.



    Granted, it's a much more capable machine, but it's no longer the affordable machine it once was. For home users looking for an affordable machine, you have to look at the MacBook or MacBook Air line.



    The old quadrant layout of consumer/professional-portable/desktop is gone, and the current lineup can't be jammed into it well.



    $1299 in 1998 is $1898 in 2015 dollars.    Considering the performance improvements, $1999 for the 27" 5K display with Fusion drive is a bargain, except there are models all across the price range ($1099, $1299, $1499,  $1799,  $1999, $2299).   The cheapest iMac is $1099 with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz, 8GB of onboard memory, configurable up to 16GB, 1TB hard drive, Intel HD Graphics 6000 and 1920-by-1080 sRGB display and for most people, that's more than what they need.    What do most people do on their computers?   Email, web-surfing, Facebook, Tweeting, watching YouTube videos and managing photos.   OK, and in many cases game playing and the base machine might be a bit slow if one is an intense gamer, but it's fine for almost everyone else. 

     

    Having said that, a consumer looking for the cheapest computer is not going to buy this - they'll buy some clone which can be had for as little as $300-$400.

     

    Just taking a quick look at BestBuy, they've got an all-in-one LG with a 21.5" monitor, Intel Celeron, 2GB memory, 16GB solid state drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI out and webcam, although it uses a Google OS for just $300.    Certainly not a great machine, but for someone who needs a machine for their kids and can't afford something better, for email, web surfing, Facebook, document creation, storing photos, it's fine.

  • Reply 20 of 49

    While it is cool to see the old iMac again, comparing a brand new machine to the original is kind of pointless. They do it at almost every new product launch too. What's the point in comparing the iPad Pro to the original iPad? Or the original iPhone to the newest. Obviously it's going to be much better. Looks good on a graph or for marketing purposes, but who compares this stuff in real world situations? 

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