The iMac G4 is an all-in-one personal computer designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Computer from January 2002 to August 2004. It was announced at Macworld San Francisco in January 2002. It replaced the iMac G3 and was succeeded by the iMac G5.

iMac G4
The iMac G4 with a 15" screen
iMac G4 with a 15" screen
ManufacturerApple Computer
Product familyiMac
Release dateJanuary 2002; 22 years ago (2002-01)
LifespanJanuary 2002-August 31, 2004 (2 years and 237 days)
Introductory priceUS$1,299 (equivalent to $2,200 in 2023) - US$1,799 (equivalent to $3,047 in 2023)[1]
DiscontinuedAugust 31, 2004 (2004-08-31)
PredecessoriMac G3
SuccessoriMac G5

The iMac G4 was the first iMac to have a liquid-crystal display built in, replacing the CRT display of previous iMacs.


15 inch, 17 inch, and 20 inch versions of the iMac G4.

The iMac G4 is an all-in-one personal computer. The machine has an integrated, flat Liquid-crystal display (LCD) mounted on an adjustable stainless-steel arm above a base, which contains the internals such as hard drive, optical drive, and motherboard. The arm allows the display to tilt the monitor up and down across 35 degrees, and swivel the monitor 180 degrees side to side.[2] The 10.5-inch diameter base is dense enough to support the display, with the neck strong enough to hold the weight of the entire computer for carrying.[3]

The machine was sold with the ice-white Apple Pro Keyboard and Apple Pro Mouse, which were later redesigned and renamed the Apple Keyboard and Apple Mouse, respectively. Optional Apple Pro Speakers, which were better quality than the internal speakers, were also available. The Apple Pro Speakers used a unique adapter, designed to work only with a select few Apple Macintosh models.



The iMac G3, first released in 1998, was a major success for Apple, shipping five million units by 2001. It helped reverse a dire financial picture for the company, marked the first major collaboration between returning CEO Steve Jobs and head of design Jony Ive, and was manufactured using new methodologies at Apple that would be applied to their future products.[4][5] After the iMac's initial release, Apple proceeded to revamp its product offerings for other consumer segments, including the Power Mac G3 and G4 and the iBook. Apple's industrial designers increasingly held more sway within the company, with the engineering department seeing significant turnover in the wake of the industrial design group's demands.[6] In 2001, the design team moved from a building across the road from Apple's main campus to a new space in the main headquarters, offering a larger space to generate ideas, prototype models, and showcase them to Jobs.[7]

Eighteen months after the iMac's release, Ive's team began considering a redesign that swapped the computer's bulky cathode-ray tube screen, around which the computer was designed, with a thin, flat Liquid-crystal display (LCD).[8] Ive produced a prototype that attached the computer components behind the screen, similar to his work on the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.[9] The design came with drawbacks; the hard drive and optical drive would be less performant in a vertical orientation, and the added heat produced by the G4 processor would necessitate a fan that would be noisy positioned so close to the user. There would also be no easy way to tilt and swivel the display without moving the entire machine.[10] Jobs hated the design, which he felt lacked purity. "Why have this flat display if you're going to glom all this stuff on its back?" he asked. "We should let each element be true to itself."[11] When Ive visited Jobs' house to talk over the issue, Jobs suggested basing the computer on a sunflower, which were growing in his garden. The suggestion of a narrative in the design appealed to Ive, who began sketching out designs drawing on the sunflower shape.[12][a] The machine took two years to develop.[10]

Ive and the design team first tried to attach the screen to the base with a series of vertebrae held together by spring-loaded cables. A clamp on the back of the screen applied tension to the cables and allowed the spine to loosen or stiffen. This design required two hands to grab the screen and release the clamp, and proved difficult for some users to adjust.[14] Ive solicited feedback from design consultancy firm IDEO, who recommended ditching the spine idea in favor of a more practical design with two rigid arms. Designer Doug Satzger suggested that they did not need the amount of flexibility the two-arm design offered, and after Jobs suggested the same, the second arm was dropped. The final arm was made of stainless steel with an internal spring that balanced the screen while being free enough to be moved by the touch of a finger.[15] The designers added a clear plastic "halo" ringing the screen that offered space for adjustment without touching the display, and minimized the look of a thick bezel around the edges. The computer components of the machine were put in the weighted base, which borrowed work done for the ill-fated Power Mac G4 Cube to cool the machine by drawing air from the bottom and expelling it out the top.[16] The playful design suggested a sunflower or a Luxolamp. Jobs was so taken with the design that, in an uncommon move, he listed himself as the primary inventor on one of the design patents for the machine.[12] Whereas the iMac G3 had been made of translucent plastics in a variety of colors, the new iMac was mostly opaque white, following from decisions Jobs had made to make the iPod music player all white. Ive called the color "pure and quiet", and Jobs felt the color made consumer products feel more premium, rather than disposable.[17]



The iMac G4 was unveiled at Macworld San Francisco on January 7, 2002.[18] Rumors had predicted a flat-panel iMac since the previous summer, as pundits considered the iMac due for a revamp amid declining sales.[19][20] On stage, Jobs declared the machine "the best thing I think we've ever done [...] it has a rare beauty and grace that is going to last the next decade." Ive surreptitiously walked the show floor to gauge the public's reaction.[18] Apple positioned the computer as the center of its "digital hub" strategy, where the Mac connected multimedia peripherals like the iPod and organized and edited audio and video.[21][22]

Apple advertised the iMac G4 as having the adjustability of a desk lamp. One of the advertisements for the machine featured it sitting in a store window "reacting" to every move made by a passer-by on the street. At the end, when the man sticks out his tongue, the iMac responds by opening its optical drive.[23]

Apple stagger-launched the iMac G4; initially only the high-end 15-inch model was available in January, followed by the cheaper configurations in February and March.[24] Apple said it received more than 150,000 preorders for the iMac in the first month,[25] and produced more than 5,000 iMacs a day to meet the initial demand. Higher prices for RAM and LCDs caused the company to raise the price on iMac configurations by $100, though existing orders were honored at the original price.[26] A high-end model with a larger display released in August. This 17-inch iMac offered a widescreen 1440x900 pixel display, more hard drive capacity, and better graphics chipset, and was slightly heavier. The other iMacs dropped back to their original prices.[27] Low-end versions of the previous G3 model continued to be sold until 2003, later replaced by the eMac.[28][29]

The next revision to the iMac line came in February 2003; the four previous configurations offered were reduced to a single 15- and 17-inch model each. They featured faster processors, optical drives, faster networking and RAM on the 17-inch model, and cheaper prices.[30]

Reception and legacy


The iMac G4 was positively received. Critics noted that the flat-screen design allowed them to forget the rest of the computer was there, as well as the ergonomics of adjusting the screen.[24][2] Peter Wilson of The Australian felt that the iMac was a better value than the lower-end Power Mac G4s.[31] While some critics liked the desk lamp look, others found it ungainly, with Mossberg left with the sense it was always likely to tip over.[31][24]

The large port selection was also praised.[2]

The performance improvements of the G4 processor were also noted, with Jason Snell of Macworld writing that compared to the more basic consumer iMac G3, the new iMac was fast enough for more demanding users who did not need the expansion options of a Power Mac.[2]

Critics criticized the placement of the computer's ports on the back of the base, since it made it harder to plug and unplug peripherals.[20][24] Other complaints included the limited options for expansion,[24][31] and low amount of RAM on the entry-level models.[citation needed] Mossberg specifically called out the lack of a wireless option for the mouse and keyboard;[24] Apple would not offer wireless peripherals until 2003.[citation needed]

The 20-inch models were much heavier and the arm much stiffer to support the larger display, which made the monitors harder to manipulate and position.[32] The iMac G4 helped rehabilitate Apple's public image after the failure of the G4 Cube,[18] and proved that Apple's success with the iMac G3 was not a fluke.[33]

Despite the ergonomic design and Jobs insistence the design would remain a decade, the design language of the iMac G4 would not last three years. The design was challenged by larger displays, and the G4 processor's successor, the G5, ran much hotter and needed more cooling. Macworld called the iMac G5 "conservative" compared to the G3 and G4 models that proceeded it, as it traded the exuberant colors or sunflower design of previous iMacs in favor of sticking the computer internals behind the display[34]—the same approach Jobs had previously eschewed as inelegant. It was this design that proved to be the template future iMac models would reflect.[35]

The iMac has been called one of the best computers Apple has made.[33][35]

The design won a gold International Design Excellence Award in 2002, with Apple winning more awards that year than any other company.[36]


Model Flat Panel[37] Mac OS X Only Flat Panel 1.0 GHz Flat Panel[38] Flat Panel USB 2.0
Timetable Released January 2002[39] August 2002[40] February 4, 2003[41] September 8, 2003[41] November 18, 2003[41]
Discontinued February 4, 2003[41] September 8, 2003[41] July 1, 2004[41]
Model Model number M6498 (EMC 1873) M6498 (EMC 1936) M6498 (EMC N/A) M6498 (EMC 1956) M6498 (EMC 1990) M6498 (EMC 1991) A1065 (EMC 1992)
Model Identifier PowerMac4,2 PowerMac4,5 PowerMac4,2 PowerMac6,1 PowerMac6,3
Apple Order No. M8672 M7677 M8535 M8812 M9105 M8935 M9285 M9168 M9290
Display 15" TFT LCD 1024×768 17" TFT Widescreen LCD 1440×900 15" TFT LCD 1024×768 17" TFT Widescreen LCD 1440×900 15" TFT LCD 1024×768 17" TFT Widescreen LCD 1440×900 20" TFT Widescreen LCD 1680 x 1050
Performance Processor PowerPC 7450 (G4) PowerPC 7445 (G4)
Clock speed 700 MHz 800 MHz 1.0 GHz 1.25 GHz
Cache 64 KB L1, 256 KB L2 (1:1)
Front Side Bus 100 MHz 133 MHz 167 MHz
Memory 128 MB of PC133 SDRAM 256 MB of PC133 SDRAM 128 or 256 MB of PC133 SDRAM 256 MB of PC133 SDRAM 256 MB of PC2100 (266 MHz) DDR SDRAM 256 MB of PC2700 (333 MHz) DDR SDRAM
Expandable up to 1 GB via one factory installed memory module in a 168-pin DIMM slot and one 144-pin user-accessible SO-DIMM slot. Expandable up to 2 GB via one factory installed memory module in a 184-pin DIMM slot and one 200-pin user-accessible SO-DIMM slot. (officially only 1 GB is supported)
Graphics Nvidia GeForce 2 MX
32 MB of DDR SDRAM[42]
Nvidia GeForce 4 MX
32 MB of DDR SDRAM[42]
Nvidia GeForce 2 MX
Nvidia GeForce 4 MX
Nvidia GeForce 4 MX
32 MB of DDR SDRAM[42]
Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
Storage Hard drive 40 GB, 60 GB, 80 GB
Optical drive 32x CD-R and 10x CD-RW write CD-RW Drive 8x DVD and 32x CD read Combo drive 6x DVD and 24x CD read; 2x DVD-R, 8x CD-R, and 4x CD-RW write SuperDrive 32x Combo drive 4x SuperDrive 32x Combo drive 4x SuperDrive
Connectivity Network 10BASE-T/100BASE-TX Ethernet
56k V.90 modem
Optional 11 Mbit/s AirPort 802.11b
10BASE-T/100BASE-TX Ethernet
56k V.92 modem
Optional 11 Mbit/s AirPort 802.11b
10BASE-T/100BASE-TX Ethernet
56k V.92 modem
Optional Bluetooth 1.1
Optional 54 Mbit/s AirPort Extreme 802.11b/g
Peripherals 3x USB 1.1
2x FireWire 400
Built-in microphone
Audio out
Apple Pro Speakers mini-jack
3x USB 2.0
2x FireWire 400
Built-in microphone
Audio out
Apple Pro Speakers mini-jack
Video out Mini-VGA
Maximum Operating System Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" and Mac OS 9.2.2 Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" or Mac OS 9.2.2 (With a patched image only[43]) Mac OS X 10.5.8 "Leopard", or Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" with Mac OS 9.2.2 (Classic Mode only) Mac OS X 10.5.8 "Leopard" if 512 MB RAM installed, Otherwise Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger"
Weight 21.3 lb. / 9.7 kg 22.8 lb. / 10.4 kg 21.3 lbs. / 9.7 kg 22.8 lbs. / 10.4 kg 21.3 lb. / 9.7 kg 22.8 lb. / 10.4 kg 40.1 lb. / 18.2 kg


  1. ^ This is the most commonly given origin for the iMac G4's shape, but Leander Kahney reports another origin offered by an unnamed former executive. In this telling, Jony made two designs: one with the computer behind the screen, and one with a separate screen and base. Jobs chose the latter "goose neck" design because its anthropomorphic features made it, like the iMac G3 before it, friendly and approachable.[13]


  1. ^,end%20model%20for%20%241799%20that
  2. ^ a b c d Snell 2002a, p. 53.
  3. ^ Michaels 2002a, pp. 29–30.
  4. ^ Gallagher, William (April 19, 2020). "How Apple Went from Bust to Five Million Colorful iMac Sold". Apple Insider. Archived from the original on November 29, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  5. ^ Kahney 2013, p. 141.
  6. ^ Kahney 2013, p. 149.
  7. ^ Kahney 2013, pp. 159–171.
  8. ^ Kahney 2013, p. 187.
  9. ^ Isaacson 2013, p. 445.
  10. ^ a b "Apple Takes a Bold New Byte at iMac". The Independent. January 20, 2002. Retrieved June 19, 2024 – via The New Zealand Herald.
  11. ^ Kahney 2013, pp. 187–188.
  12. ^ a b Isaacson 2013, p. 446.
  13. ^ Kahney 2013, pp. 188.
  14. ^ Kahney 2013, pp. 188–189.
  15. ^ Kahney 2013, p. 189.
  16. ^ Kahney 2013, p. 190.
  17. ^ Isaacson 2013, pp. 390–391.
  18. ^ a b c Kahney 2013, p. 191.
  19. ^ Heid, Jim (January 3, 2002). "Tech 101; Mac Focus; Expo Fuels the Apple Rumor Mill". Los Angeles Times. p. T3.
  20. ^ a b For Apple, To Be Flat Is a Virtue Pogue, David.  New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast); New York, N.Y.. 10 Jan 2002: G.1.
  21. ^ Frith, David (January 15, 2002). "Desklamp is a Head-turner". The Australian. p. 35.
  22. ^ Coates, James (January 20, 2002). "New iMac mighty, but how many will notice?". Chicago Tribune. p. 5.4.
  23. ^ iMac G4 TV commercial from 2001 on YouTube
  24. ^ a b c d e f Mossberg, Walter (January 17, 2002). "IMac Looks Radical, And Its Performance Seems Right On". Wall Street Journal. p. 8.
  25. ^ "Industry Report; Technology". Detroit Free Press. January 29, 2002. p. C2.
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  28. ^ Hackett, Stephen (July 7, 2016). "Summer 2001: The Final iMac G3s". 512 Pixels. Archived from the original on November 30, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  29. ^ Michaels & Cellini 2002, p. 16.
  30. ^ Michaels 2003, p. 21.
  31. ^ a b c Maybe new-generation iMac is in the cards, or maybe not: [Final Edition] Wilson, Peter.  The Vancouver Sun; Vancouver, B.C.. 17 Jan 2002: D11.
  32. ^
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  34. ^ Norr 2004, p. 22.
  35. ^ a b Snell, Jason Snell (writer) (October 26, 2020). "20 Macs for 2020: #9 – iMac G4". Six Colors. Retrieved June 21, 2024.
  36. ^ Hales, Linda (June 29, 2002). "At Awards, the I's Have It; The iMac and Three Other Apple Concepts Take Gold for Industrial Design". The Washington Post. p. C2.
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  43. ^ "Mac OS 9.2.2 for Previously Unsupported G4s (G4s that shipped OS X Boot Only)".