iMac G3

The iMac G3, originally released as the iMac, is a series of Macintosh personal computers developed by Apple under the tenure of Apple's interim CEO and cofounder Steve Jobs after his return to the financially troubled company.

iMac G3
IMac G3 Bondi Blue, three-quarters view.png
Original "Bondi Blue" iMac
ManufacturerApple Inc.
Product familyiMac
Release dateAugust 15, 1998; 23 years ago (1998-08-15)
DiscontinuedMarch 18, 2003; 18 years ago (2003-03-18)
PredecessorPower Macintosh G3 All-In-One
SuccessoriMac G4

The iMac was a huge success for Apple, revitalizing the company and influencing competitors' product designs. It played a role in abandoning legacy technologies like the floppy disk, serial ports, and Apple Desktop Bus in favor of Universal Serial Bus. The product line was updated throughout 1998 until 2001 with new technology and colors, eventually being replaced by the iMac G4 and eMac.


Steve Jobs reduced the company's large product lines immediately upon becoming Apple's interim CEO in 1997. Toward the end of the year, Apple trimmed its line of desktop Macs down from ten distinct models to four models of the Power Macintosh G3, which included the iMac's immediate predecessor, an educational market exclusive called the Power Macintosh G3 All-In-One. Having discontinued the consumer-targeted Performa series, Apple needed a replacement for the Performa's price point. The company announced the iMac on May 6, 1998[1] and began shipping the iMac G3 on August 15, 1998.

Internally, the iMac was a combination of the MacNC project and Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP).[citation needed] Although the promise of CHRP has never been fully realized, the work that Apple had done on CHRP significantly helped in the designing of the iMac. One change from CHRP for example was to boot classic Mac OS using a 4MB Mac OS ROM file stored on disk. The original iMac used a PowerPC G3 (PowerPC 750) processor, which also ran in Apple's high-end Power Macintosh line at the time, though at higher speeds. It sold for US$1,299, and shipped with Mac OS 8.1, which was soon upgraded to Mac OS 8.5.

The iMac was continually updated after its initial release. Aside from increasing specifications (processor speed, video RAM and hard-disk capacity), Apple replaced Bondi Blue with new colors. Throughout its lifespan, the iMac was released in a total of thirteen colors.

A later hardware update created a sleeker design. This second-generation iMac featured a slot-loading optical drive, FireWire, "fanless" operation (through free convection cooling), a slightly updated shape, and the option of AirPort wireless networking. Apple continued to sell this line of iMacs until March 2003, mainly to customers who wanted the ability to run the older Mac OS 9 operating system. USB and FireWire support, and support for dial-up, Ethernet, and wireless networking (via 802.11b and Bluetooth) soon became standard across Apple's entire product line. The addition of high-speed FireWire corrected the deficiencies of the earlier iMacs.

The iMac CRT model, now targeted at the education market, was renamed the iMac G3, and kept in production alongside its iMac G4 successor until the eMac was released. As Apple continued to release new versions of its computers, the term iMac continued to be used to refer to machines in its consumer desktop line.


All 13 colors of the iMac G3

The iMac was dramatically different from any previous mainstream computer. It was made of translucent "Bondi Blue"-colored plastic, and was egg-shaped around a 15-inch (38.1 cm) CRT display. The case included a handle, and the peripheral connectors were hidden behind a door on the right-hand side of the machine. Dual headphone jacks in the front complemented the built-in stereo speakers. Danny Coster was the original designer of the product, and Jonathan Ive helped further the process. The iMac G3's unique shape and color options helped ingrain itself into late 1990s pop culture. The iMac was the first computer to exclusively offer USB ports as standard,[2] including as the connector for its new keyboard and mouse,[3] thus abandoning previous Macintosh peripheral connections, such as the ADB, SCSI and GeoPort serial ports.

A further radical step was to abandon the 3.5-inch floppy disk drive which had been present in every Macintosh since the first in 1984. Apple argued that recordable CDs, the Internet, and office networks were quickly making diskettes obsolete; however, Apple's omission generated controversy. At the time of iMac's introduction, third-party manufacturers offered external USB floppy disk drives, often in translucent plastic to match the iMac's enclosure. Apple had initially announced the internal modem in the iMac would operate at only 33.6 kbit/s rather than the new 56 kbit/s speed, but was forced by consumer pressure to adopt the faster standard.

Components such as the front-mounted IrDA port and the tray-loading CD-ROM drive were borrowed from Apple's laptop line, though the IrDA was removed in the Revision C onwards. Although the iMac did not officially have an expansion slot, the first versions (Revision A and B) had a slot dubbed the "mezzanine slot". It was only for internal use by Apple, although a few third-party expansion cards were released for it, such as a 3dfx Voodoo II video card upgrade from Micro Conversions[4] and SCSI/SCSI-TV tuner cards (iProRAID and iProRAID TV) from the German company Formac. The mezzanine slot was removed from later iMacs, though according to an article in the German computer magazine c't, the socket can be retrofitted on revision C and D iMacs as the solder pads for it are still on the motherboard (slot-loading iMac G3's removed the mezzanine pads completely).[5]

The keyboard and mouse were redesigned for the iMac with translucent plastics and a Bondi Blue trim. The Apple USB Keyboard was smaller than Apple's previous keyboards, with white characters on black keys – both attributes that attracted debate. The Apple USB Mouse was mechanical, of a round, "hockey puck" design which was derided as being unnecessarily difficult for users with larger hands. Apple continued shipping the round mouse, adding a divot to the button in later versions so that users could distinguish proper orientation by feel. At the 2000 Macworld Expo in New York, a new capsule-shaped optical mouse, known as the Apple Pro Mouse (and later renamed the "Apple Mouse"), replaced the round mouse across all of Apple's hardware offerings. The Apple Pro Keyboard was introduced at the same time; it was a full-size keyboard,[6] with an extended layout not seen since Apple's last ADB keyboards.

Revision historyEdit

1st generation: Tray-loadingEdit

The first iteration of the iMac G3 featured a 15-inch (13.8-inch viewable) CRT display, 233 MHz processor, ATI Rage IIc graphics, 4 GB hard drive, tray-loading CD-ROM drive, two USB ports, a 56 kbit/s modem, built-in Ethernet, infrared port, built-in stereo speakers, and two headphone ports. It came exclusively in a translucent "Bondi Blue" plastic, and was later retroactively known as Revision A. On October 17, the iMac was updated with ATI Rage Pro graphics. This updated Revision B model maintained its predecessor's original price of $1299. The iMac had its infrared and mezzanine features removed with the introduction of the Revision C model on January 5, 1999, dropping in price to US$1199. Hard drive capacity increased and a faster processor was added. The Bondi Blue color was discontinued and replaced by five new colors: Strawberry, Blueberry, Lime, Grape, and Tangerine. A final update, Revision D, was released on April 14, 1999, which maintained its previous specifications save a faster processor. All four revisions can use a AirPort Base Station to connect to the internet wirelessly, though the iMac will still need to connect to the Station via ethernet to use it.

Model iMac (Revision A)[7] iMac (Revision B) [1] iMac (Revision C) [2] iMac (Revision D) [3]
August 15, 1998 [8] October 26, 1998 [9] January 5, 1999 [10] April 14, 1999 [11]
Codename "Columbus, Elroy, Tailgate, C1" "Life Savers"
Model identifier iMac,1
Color(s)   Bondi Blue   Blueberry   Grape   Tangerine   Lime   Strawberry
Processor 233 MHz 266 MHz 333 MHz
Cache 64 KB of L1 Cache and 512 KB of L2 backside cache (1:2)
Front Side Bus 66 MHz

(Two SO-DIMM slots)

Expandable to 512 MB (128 MB supported by Apple)[12] Expandable to 512 MB (256 MB supported by Apple)[13]
Display 15-inch (13.8-inch viewable) shadow-mask CRT screen with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution
Graphics ATI Rage IIc with 2 MB of SGRAM
Expandable to 6 MB of SGRAM
ATI Rage Pro with 6 MB of SGRAM
Hard drive 4 GB 6 GB
5400-rpm ATA-3
Up to 128 GB Hard Drive Supported
Optical drive
24x CD-ROM
Connectivity 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet
56k modem
4 Mbit/s IrDA
Peripherals 2x USB 1.1
2x Headphone mini-jacks
Analog audio input mini-jack
Built-in stereo speakers
Original Operating System Mac OS 8.1 (initial release only) or 8.5 Mac OS 8.5.1
Maximum Operating System Mac OS X 10.3.9 “Panther” and Mac OS 9.2.2
Unofficially, can run Mac OS X 10.4.11 with XPostFacto, or Mac OS X 10.5.8 if a G4 processor upgrade is also installed.
Weight 38.1 lb (17.2 kg)
Dimensions 15.8 x 15.2 x 17.6 inch (40.1 x 38.6 x 44.7 cm)

2nd generation: Slot-loadingEdit

On October 5, 1999, Apple discontinued the tray-loading iMac. The new iMac built upon the Revision D's success with a faster processor, double the RAM, improvements to the built-in speaker system, a slot-loading optical drive, faster ATI Rage 128 VR graphics, a slightly updated case, and support for Apple's 802.11b AirPort wireless networking card. The iMac was joined by two additional standard configurations, the iMac DV ("digital video") and iMac DV Special Edition. Designed to support home movie editing, the iMac DV had a more powerful processor, a VGA-out port, DVD-ROM drive, larger hard drive, and two FireWire ports for US$1299, in new shades of all five Revision D colors. It was called the "DV" because it featured the ability to capture DV video from a DV tape in a DV camcorder or VCR through its FireWire connection. The iMac DV Special Edition doubled the RAM again and increased hard drive capacity to 13 GB at US$1499, and was available in an exclusive Graphite color. All iMac (slot-loading) models featured convection cooling, keeping them nearly silent during operation.[14]

On July 19, 2000, Apple reduced the price of the entry-level iMac to US$799. Hardware changes were minimal; the AirPort card slot was removed (for the base configuration), the USB Mouse was replaced with an Apple Pro Mouse, the ATI Rage 128 VR graphics were upgraded to an ATI Rage 128 Pro version, and it was made available in a darker shade of blue called Indigo, replacing Blueberry. The iMac DV was reduced to US$999, dispensing with the DVD-ROM replaced by a CD-ROM drive, and was available in Indigo and Ruby. At the former price point of the iMac DV, the iMac DV+ was introduced, sporting faster processor and larger hard drive than its predecessor in Indigo, Ruby, and the exclusive Sage. The iMac DV Special Edition remained at the same price but gained a 500 MHz processor, 30 GB hard drive, and was available in Graphite and the exclusive Snow.

On February 22, 2001, Apple consolidated its configurations to three. The iMac DV was renamed the iMac and made the entry-level configuration; it was available only in Indigo at US$899. A second entry-level configuration was introduced with a 500 MHz processor, new ATI Rage 128 Ultra graphics, and 20 GB hard drive in Indigo, along with two patterns: Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian that were molded into the plastic exterior. The iMac DV Special Edition was renamed iMac Special Edition and was available in Graphite and the two new patterns, with a faster processor, double the RAM, and a 40 GB hard drive at the same US$1499 price.

The final revision, released July 18, 2001, kept the three model line now with a 500, 600, or 700 MHz processor, available in Indigo, Graphite, and Snow. Following the introduction of the faster iMac G4 in January 2002, the 500 MHz Snow and both of the 700 MHz models were discontinued. The 500 MHz Indigo and 600 MHz Graphite models were subsequently discontinued later in 2002, leaving only the 600 MHz Snow model available for sale until March 2003, when the release of the low-cost eMac replaced it.

Model iMac (Fall 1999) [4] iMac (Summer 2000) [5] iMac (Winter 2001) [6] iMac (Summer 2001) [7]
Release date October 4, 1999 July 19, 2000 February 22, 2001 July 18, 2001
Codename "Kihei, P7" N/A "Kiva"
Model identifier PowerMac2,1 PowerMac2,2 PowerMac4,1
Colors   Blueberry   Grape   Tangerine   Lime   Strawberry
  Graphite (SE)
  Indigo   Ruby   Sage
  Graphite   Snow (SE)
  Indigo (regular)
  Graphite (SE)
 •  Blue Dalmatian  ✿  Flower Power (SE and regular)
  Indigo (regular)
  Graphite   Snow (SE and regular)
Processor speed
  • 350 MHz (Blueberry only)
  • 400 MHz (all colors)
  • 350 MHz (Indigo only)
  • 400 MHz (Indigo and Ruby)
  • 450 MHz (Indigo, Ruby and Sage)
  • 500 MHz (Graphite and Snow)
  • 400 MHz (Indigo only)
  • 500 MHz (excludes Graphite)
  • 600 MHz (excludes Indigo)
  • 500 MHz (Indigo and Snow only)
  • 600 and 700 MHz (Graphite and Snow only)
Processor type PowerPC 750 PowerPC 750 (400 MHz) or PowerPC 750CX (500 and 600 MHz) PowerPC 750CX (500 MHz) or PowerPC 750CXe (600 and 700 MHz)
Cache 64 KB of L1 Cache and 512 KB of L2 Backside Cache (2:5) 64 KB of L1 Cache. 512 KB of L2 Backside Cache (2:5) or 256 KB of L2 Cache (1:1) 64 KB of L1 Cache and 256 KB of L2 Cache (1:1)
Front Side Bus 100 MHz

Two slots

64 MB or 128 MB
Expandable to 1 GB (512 MB supported by Apple)[15]
64 MB or 128 MB
Expandable to 1 GB
64 MB, 128 MB or 256 MB
Expandable to 1 GB
Display 15-inch (13.8-inch viewable) shadow-mask CRT screen with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution
Graphics ATI Rage 128 VR with 8 MB of SDRAM ATI Rage 128 Pro with 8 MB of SDRAM ATI Rage 128 Pro with 8 MB of SDRAM (400 MHz)
ATI Rage 128 Ultra with 16 MB of SDRAM (500 MHz and 600 MHz)
ATI Rage 128 Ultra with 16 MB of SDRAM
AGP 2x
Hard drive 6 GB, 10 GB or 13 GB 7 GB, 10 GB, 20 GB or 30 GB 10 GB, 20 GB, 30 GB or 40 GB 20 GB, 40 GB or 60 GB
5400-rpm Ultra ATA
Up to 128 GB Hard Drive Supported
Optical drive
24x CD-ROM (Blueberry at 350 MHz, Ruby at 400 MHz, all Indigo except 450 MHz and initial 500 MHz)
4x DVD-ROM (all other 1999 and 2000 models) or 8x4x24x CD-RW (all other 2001 models)
Connectivity Optional 11 Mbit/s AirPort 802.11b (adapter required)
10/100 BASE-T Ethernet
56k V.90 modem
Peripherals 2x USB 1.1
2x FireWire 400 (except 350 MHz model)
2x Headphone mini-jacks
Analog audio input mini-jack
Built-in stereo speakers
Video out
VGA (except 350 MHz model)
Original Operating System Mac OS 8.6[16] Mac OS 9.0.4 Mac OS 9.1 Mac OS 9.1 and Mac OS X 10.0.4
Maximum Operating System Mac OS X 10.3.9 Panther (350 MHz)

Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger (All other models)
Unofficially, can run Mac OS X 10.5.8 with third-party software and a G4 processor upgrade.

Weight 34.7 lb (15.7 kg)
Dimensions 15.0 x 15.0 x 17.1 inch (38.1 x 38.1 x 43.5 cm)


iMac G3 was well-received, being one of Apple's most memorable products of it's era.


Apple protected the distinctive iMac design with legal action against competing computer makers who attempted to imitate the iMac, such as eMachines' eOne.[17] Some manufacturers added translucent plastics to existing designs after the iMac.

In April 2021, Apple announces Apple M1-based iMac that comes with seven options of colors, with some media including CNET,[18] Business Insider[19] and The Next Web[20] calling it the revival of the available of iMac color options since the iMac G3.

Timeline of iMac modelsEdit

iPadMacBook AiriPhoneMacBookMac MiniPower Mac G5iPodG4 CubeiBookPower Mac G3Intel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMacIntel iMaciMac G5iMac G5eMaciMac G4iMac G4iMac G4iMac G3iMac G3


  1. ^ Paul Thurrott (May 6, 1998). "Whooa! Apple Announces the iMac". Windows IT Pro. Archived from the original on October 26, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2006.
  2. ^ IBM – The ins and outs of USB Archived January 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ iMac – Technical Specification
  4. ^ "iMac Boards Use Forbidden Interface". Macworld. April 1, 1999. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  5. ^ "Mezzanine in neueren iMacs".
  6. ^ "Apple Unveils Optical Mouse and New Pro Keyboard". Apple Newsroom. July 19, 2000. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  7. ^ "iMac - Technical Specifications". Apple Support. Apple Inc. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "Apple iMac G3 233 Specs".
  9. ^ "Apple iMac G3 233 Specs".
  10. ^ "Apple iMac G3 266 Specs".
  11. ^ "Apple iMac G3 333 Specs".
  12. ^, Apple iMac G3/233 Original – Bondi (Rev. A & B) Specs (M6709LL/A*)
  13. ^, Apple iMac G3/266 (Fruit Colors) Specs (M7345LL/A*)
  14. ^ Apple, Inc (February 20, 2012). "iMac (Slot Loading): What's New and Different". Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  15. ^, Apple iMac G3/400 DV (Slot Loading – Fruit) Specs (M7493LL/A*)
  16. ^, Apple Specifications, October 15, 1999
  17. ^ Kanellos, Michael (August 19, 1999). "Apple sues eMachines for iMac look-alike". CNET. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012.
  18. ^ Ackerman, Dan (April 21, 2021). "Apple's colorful new iMac looks back to go forward". CNET. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  19. ^ Eadicicco, Lisa (April 21, 2021). "Apple just announced a redesigned iMac in 7 colors, marking a revival of its iconic colorful computers". Business Insider. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  20. ^ Lopez, Napier (April 21, 2021). "The slim new iMac is powered by M1 and comes in 7 gorgeous colors". The Next Web. Retrieved April 21, 2021.

External linksEdit