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To date, two methods have been used to make a personal computer, not offered by Apple, but able to run the Mac operating system: either create a Macintosh Conversion or build a Macintosh clone.

Unlike Mac clones that contain little or no original Apple hardware, Mac Conversions are essentially modification kits that require the core components of a previously purchased, genuine Apple Mac computer, such as the Macintosh ROM or the motherboard, in order to become a functional computer system.

This places the commercial production of a Mac conversion under the protection of the First-sale doctrine in the U.S. and similar legal concepts in most other countries.

BackgroundEdit

Since the early days of Macintosh computers, manufacturers have sought to fulfill the needs of customers who wanted to have a computer with Mac OS, but with a functionality not provided by Apple’s existing Macintosh (later called Mac) lineup. Companies making Mac conversions start with a previously purchased, genuine Apple Mac computer, and use them in combination with their own manufactured components to assemble their custom Mac solution. Modifications can be as minor as the addition of a touch-sensitive display bezel to an otherwise factory standard iMac to create for example a kiosk system,[1][2] or as extensive as the complete replacement of a MacBook's laptop enclosure to create a Tablet Mac.[3]

While this business model of aftermarket modification is most commonly used in the car industry, with one of the most famous examples being the Shelby Mustang, a high performance variant of the Ford Mustang, it has been applied with equal success in the Mac market.

Whereas Mac clones typically aim to compete directly with Apple's solutions through lower prices, commercial Mac Conversions rely on offering features/solutions not available from Apple, and where the need for that particular Mac solution is high enough to justify the combined cost of the full price of the Mac donor computer plus the price of the conversion kit and labor.[4] Commercially successful Mac conversions were discontinued when Apple introduced products with competing features.[5]

LegalityEdit

By definition, a Macintosh conversion is an aftermarket modification of a previously purchased, genuine Apple Mac computer or laptop, while preserving the core components required to run the Mac operating system, such as the donor Mac's motherboard. Retaining the core Mac computer inside the Mac conversion avoids any of the copyright misuse, DMCA or Mac operating system licensing issues that forms the basis of the legal threat unlicensed Mac clone manufacturers have to face.

The performance of aftermarket modifications is in the U.S. protected by the First-sale doctrine and similar legal concepts in most other countries.[6][7] Its legality has been tested through litigation, most notably in the automotive industry, where automobile manufacturers have attempted to hinder or suppress automotive aftermarket businesses by means of copyright and/or patent infringement lawsuits.

The application of the aftermarket process makes for a critical legal distinction between Macintosh conversions and Macintosh clones. Whereas none of the Mac conversions of the companies listed below have seen legal action, Psystar, an unlicensed Mac clone maker, was sued by Apple in federal court within months[8] of the introduction of their first Mac clones.[9]

CompaniesEdit

The following companies have created commercially available Mac conversion solutions:

Axiotron, Inc.Edit

Axiotron, Inc., was founded as a Delaware corporation in 2005[10] with headquarters in Los Angeles, California. It was acquired in 2008[11] by the publicly traded Toronto, Canada-based Axiotron Corp. (TSX-V: AXO) and dissolved in 2010.[12][13] The company was the first Mac conversion manufacturer to create a pen-enabled tablet Mac computer.[14]

Notable products include:

  • Modbook – the first true Tablet Mac,[15] this Mac conversion was based on the polycarbonate white MacBook and featured a pen-enabled, but not finger-touch sensitive screen. The Modbook retained the entire bottom half of the donor MacBook enclosure, only removing the display and the keyboard section, replacing it with the pen-enabled 13.3-inch wide-viewing-angle display in a chrome-plated cast-magnesium bezel.[16][17] Discontinued in 2010.

Colby Systems, Inc.Edit

Founded in 1982[18] and operating out of Fresno, California, Colby Systems, Inc. launched its first Macintosh portable computer in 1987.[19] In 1991, after introducing but never shipping its final portable Mac solution, the company left the Mac conversion business to work with video technology[20] and was dissolved in 2016.[21]

Notable products include:

Dynamac Computer Products, Inc.Edit

Dynamac Corporation, out of Denver, Colorado, also known as Dynamac Computer Products Inc., was founded as a Delaware corporation in 1970[30] and offered Mac portable computer systems between 1986[31] and 1991.[32]

Notable products include:

  • Dynamac[33][34] – was a Macintosh Plus converted into a black metal, 24-pound, portable Mac computer with a 9-inch back-lit amber electroluminescent screen and an optional, external battery pack. Based on an 8MHz 68000 CPU, and with pricing starting at $7,000, the Dynamac became obsolete with the introduction of the Apple Macintosh Portable in 1989.[35] Discontinued.
  • Dynamac EL[36] – based on the same Macintosh Plus system as the Dynamac, the EL used a black Cycolac plastic enclosure, reducing the weight to 18-pound and dropping the starting price to $6,000. It also became obsolete with the introduction of the Apple Macintosh Portable in 1989.[37] Discontinued.
  • Dynamac LC Display[38] – converted a Macintosh LC into a 13 ¾-pound portable Mac by attaching a 9.5-inch LCD display with 640-by-480 pixels resolution and 16 shades of grey to a Macintosh LC base system. Adding the optional battery added 2 ½ pound to the system's weight. Pricing started at $1,299 for the display kit, plus the cost of the Macintosh LC. Discontinued.
  • Dynamac IIsf[39] and IIsf/30[40] – this 11-pound Mac portable was based on converting a Macintosh LC into a leather-cased Mac portable with a built-in 9.5-inch LCD display with 640-by-480 pixels resolution and 16 shades of grey, a touchpad and an internal battery. The solution came either with the original donor Mac’s 68020 CPU (IIsf) starting at a price of $4,995 or an 68030 CPU (IIsf/30) starting at a price of $6,995. Discontinued.

Intelitec Systems Corp.Edit

Intelitec Systems Corp., based out of Fairfield, Iowa, offered Macintosh portable computers from 1987[41] until 1989 when the introduction of the Apple Macintosh Portable made their product obsolete.[42]

Notable products include:

Modbook Inc.Edit

Founded in February 2012, Modbook Inc, a privately held[44] U.S. company based out of Los Angeles, California,[45] is currently the only active Mac conversion manufacturer. The company offers mid- and high-end pen-enabled Tablet Mac solutions for creative professionals.

Notable products include:

Outbound Systems, Inc.Edit

Outbound Systems Inc., based in Boulder, Colorado, and founded in 1989,[53] offered Mac portable computer systems between 1989[54] and 1991,[55] and left the Mac conversion business in 1992 to build windows-based PC solutions.[56][57]

Notable products include:

  • Outbound Laptop[58][59][60] – announced in 1989, this Mac conversion came very close to being a Mac clone as Outbound manufactured the entire computer, including the motherboard, and only required the transfer of the Mac ROM from a Macintosh Plus or SE donor computer. The company successfully characterized its solution as an extension of the donor Mac by supporting a “hive” mode. The “lobotomized” Mac could be connected to the Outbound Laptop and started normally, using the Laptop’s Mac ROM and faster 15 MHz 68HC000 CPU. Costing between $2,999 and $3,999, depending on the options (and without accounting for the cost of the donor Mac), it weighed 9.2 pounds, making it lighter and less expensive than Apple’s Macintosh Portable (15.5 pounds and $4,799 to $5,499 respectively). It was discontinued with the introduction of the Outbound Notebook in 1991.
  • Outbound Notebook[61][62][63][64] – introduced in 1991, and built like its predecessor the Outbound Laptop with only the use of a ROM from a Macintosh Plus or SE donor, the Notebook featured a true clamshell notebook design with a 10″ Supertwist 640 x 400 pixels b&w display, a replaceable daughtercard design that allowed for easy CPU and FPU upgrades, standard 30-pin SIMM RAM memory modules, and could connect through its SCSI port to the Outbound Outrigger full-page external monochrome monitor. Pricing started at $3,500 and it was discontinued in 1992.

Sixty Eight Thousand, Inc.Edit

Sixty-Eight Thousand, Inc, a California corporation based out of Scotts Valley, operated between 1987[65] and 1994,[66] offering performance-enhanced tower workstation solutions for the high and top-end professional Mac market.

Notable products include:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ Cohen, Peter (April 26, 2001). "Termimac offers slick iMac kiosk". MacCentral Online. Archived from the original on June 4, 2001. The branded kiosks feature touchscreen-equipped iMac systems, as well.
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  4. ^ "Souped-up fx". Seybold Report on Desktop Publishing, Volume 05, Number 01. September 10, 1990. Archived from the original on May 23, 2006. just introduced a IIfx version of the Dash 30. For $11,500, you get a Mac IIfx (40-MHz 68030 CPU and 68882 math chip), 8 MB of high-bandwidth main memory and a 180-MB disk drive rated for 15-ms access time
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