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Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.jpg
Introduced March 20, 1997
Discontinued March 14, 1998
MSRP US$7,499
CPU PowerPC 603e
CPU speed 250 MHz
L2 Cache 256 KiB, max 1 MiB
Bus 50 MHz
RAM 2 slots
32 MiB, max 128 MiB (2 × 64 MiB)
Memory Spec 168-pin, 5 V,
60+ ns EDO or FPM DIMMs
VRAM 2 MiB
Video 12.1" Active Matrix
800×600 or 640×480 @ up to 16-bits
ATI 3D RAGE 2 chip set
Ports Rear Ports:
Variable Level Sound In
Sound Out
DB-25 SCSI
TV Tuner
FM Tuner
Rear Side Ports:
1 ADB
2 DIN-8 GeoPorts
DB-25 SCSI
S-Video In
Sound Line In
Via Expansion Slots:
1 Comm Slot 2
PCI Slot
Optical Drive 4× CD-ROM
Hard Drive 2 GB IDE
Floppy Drive Apple SuperDrive
Initial OS System 7.6.1
Final OS Mac OS 9.1
Weight 6.8 kg (14.9 lb)
Dimensions Metric - 438 × 419 × 254 mm
Imperial - 17.25 × 16.5 × 10 in

The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh was a limited-edition home computer produced by Apple Computer, Inc., in 1997 in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

While the machine is often regarded as a stylistic landmark [1], it was met with lukewarm sales, and was derided for its price and for championing form over function [2].

Contents

History

On January 7, 1997 Apple unveiled the limited edition Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (often abbreviated "TAM") at the MacWorld Expo, San Francisco.

The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh would go on sale in late spring of 1997 [3], at a price of $7,499.

Specifications and Design

The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh's design vastly deviated from other personal computers of its day. It used an LCD display and vertically mounted logic board and media drives to produce a slimline form factor a mere 2.5" deep. Although most of the inside components were off-the-shelf (with the exception of a custom logic board), the exterior was designed to represent a state-of-the-art futuristic vision.

The TAM featured a 250 MHz PowerPC 603e processor and a 12.1" active matrix LCD powered by an ATI 3D Rage II video chipset with 2MB of VRAM capable of displaying up to 16bit color at 800x600 or 640x480 pixels. It had a 4x vertically mounted SCSI CD-ROM, a 2GB ATA hard drive, a vertically-mounted Apple Floppy SuperDrive, a TV/FM tuner, an S-Video card, and a custom-made Bose sound system including 2 "Jewel" speakers and a subwoofer built into the externally located power supply "base unit".

The TAM came with a special 75 key ADB keyboard which featured leather palm-rests and a trackpad instead of a mouse. The trackpad could be detached from the keyboard if desired, with a small leather insert found underneath the keyboard ready to fill the gap. The keyboard does not have a numeric keypad. When not required, the keyboard could slide under the TAM's head unit, leaving the trackpad exposed for continued access. The TAM also came with a remote control (standard with the Apple TV/FM Tuner card), but also featured buttons on the front panel that could control sound levels, CD playback, brightness, contrast, and TV mode. The pre-installed operating system was System 7.6.1 (requiring the TAM's special CD for installation), but this could be upgraded as far as Mac OS 9.1.

In order to accommodate further features, the TAM came with a tight-fitting 7 inch PCI slot and also a Apple Communication slot II for the addition of Ethernet. Later G3 upgrade options offered by Sonnet and NewerTechnologies make use of the TAM's Level II Cache slot, which allow the computer to reach speeds of up to 500MHz. All of these options come at the price of the TAM's slim profile. The back panel must be removed, and replaced with an (included) "hunchback" cover that adds several extra inches to the depth of the machine.

By moving the power supply into an external enclosure (together with Bose's subwoofer), heat issues in the head-unit were avoided. This technique was later used again by Apple in the Power Mac G4 Cube and later by the Mac Mini. Joining the base-unit to the head-unit was a thick cord.

One last unique feature of the TAM greeted owners upon turning the computer on – a special startup chime used in no other Mac.

Production

Apple only manufactured 12,000 TAMs. While 399 were held for spare parts, the remaining 11,601 were sold in only 5 countries around the world: USA, Japan, France, Germany, and the UK.

Ten TAMs were sent to Apple Australia. Two of these were given away as prizes to the public and one put on display in Apple's Sydney HQ; the remainder went to Apple Australia executives.

Both of Apple's founders, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, received a TAM. When "Woz" allowed people to see into his office via webcam in the late 1990s, his TAM was visible on his desk.

Due to the scarcity of scale, rather than training all Apple authorized technicians in repairing the TAM, Apple opted to ship faulty units to three central locations worldwide – one per continent. The US location was in/near the Kodak Building in Rochester, New York. Apple's Service Source CD, containing information for authorized technicians in the repair of Apple computers, lists the TAM as a "closed unit", repairable only by Apple themselves. It does not contain a "take apart" guide for the TAM.

Limitations

Based on a PowerPC 603e (not a G3), the TAM cannot run Mac OS X.

Some Twentieth Anniversary Macintoshes experience what has become known as "the buzz" – a static noise that plays through the TAM's speakers even when the sound level is muted. Some people reported that even after sending their TAM back to Apple for repairs, the buzz would later return. It took some time for Apple, together with Bose, to confirm a problem existed and devise a lasting fix.

Reception

Upon unveiling, the TAM was predicted to cost US$9,000, which would include a direct-to-door concierge delivery service. Upon release, it was $7,499. In the middle of its sales' lifespan it dropped further to around US$3,500, and finally upon its discontinuation in March 1998 the price was set to a low US$1,995—either at or below the cost of production.

The simple reason behind these price drops was that despite an award winning advertising campaign, the TAM was simply overpriced for what it was. In comparison with a Power Macintosh 6500 with similar specs, retailing for US2,999, the TAM was priced out of the market.

Legacy

Despite its poor sales, the TAM remains a popular collector's item among dedicated Macintosh collectors.

External power supplies were used in later Apple computers such as the Power Mac G4 Cube and Mac Mini. Joint efforts with speaker manufacturers (originally Bose, but later Harman Kardon) have become common for several Apple computers.

External links

In Popular Culture

The TAM is seen in several episodes of the ninth season of Seinfeld in Jerry's apartment.

The computer used in Jasper's hideout, in the film Children of Men, to show the video feeds of intruders breaking in is an Apple Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh. In this movie it would be 30 years old.

References


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