The end of the Classic line in the North American market, the Color Classic (a.k.a. Performa 250) shared the motherboard design of the LC II – equally limited in RAM expansion, constricted by a 16-bit data bus, and able to use 16-bit PDS cards designed for the LC. The only significant difference is the presence of a socket for adding a 68882 math coprocessor.
The Color Classic’s claim to fame is a tiny, remarkably crisp 10″ (9″ viewable) 512 x 384 pixel color monitor – and Apple IIe emulation using a PDS card. (The 512 x 384 pixel display matched the format of the 12″ monitor designed for the LC and LC II, which accepted the same Apple II card.)
“In many ways, the Color Classic is the compact Mac everyone’s been waiting for since, well, since 1984.” (MacUser, April 1993)
Nice as it was to have color, the pedestrian performance due to the 16-bit motherboard earns the Color Classic the Compromised Mac label. Yet despite poky performance, the Color Classic is a perennial favorite: it’s cute, and with some surgery it can support 640 x 480 on the internal display. (The Colour Classic II, with a 33 MHz CPU on a 32-bit bus and room for 36 MB of RAM, is what the Color Classic should have been. Since the CCII and Performa/LC 550 share the same motherboard, you can easily upgrade your Color Classic to Colour Classic II levels with a 550 motherboard.)
The Color Classic had an internal microphone above the screen and a readily accessible motherboard: just open the rear panel and slide out the board for upgrades. You can control volume and contrast using controls on the front of the computer – no need to open control panels.
Unlike other compact Macs, the Color Classic can be shut down with the power key on the keyboard. The Color Classic is also turned on with the keyboard power key.
The Color Classic was the first Mac with a built-in color monitor, although the unusual 512 x 384 pixel format size meant many games would not run properly, if at all. However, it is possible to hack the circuitry to support 640 x 480 or add a video card that allows use of a larger external monitor. (This was the first compact Mac since the SE/30 to offer an expansion slot.)
- Performa 250 introduced 1993.02.01; discontinued 1994.05.01
- Color Classic introduced 1993.02.10 at $1,390; discontinued 1994.05.16
- code name: Slice
- Gestalt ID: 49
- model no.: M1600
- upgrade path: no official upgrade path, although some have successfully installed 550 and 575 motherboards
- requires System 7.1 (with System Enabler 401) to 7.6.1
- addressing: 24-bit or 32-bit
- CPU: 16 MHz 68030
- FPU: 68882 (optional)
- performance: 1.7, relative to SE; 0.25, Speedometer 4; 3.9 MIPS
for more details, see benchmark page
- ROM: 1 MB
- RAM: 4 MB, expandable to 10 MB using two 100ns 30-pin SIMMs
- 0.25, Speedometer 4
- see Benchmarks: Mac Color Classic for more details
- VRAM: 256 KB, expandable to 512 KB for 16-bit color, stock VRAM supports 4-bit/16-color mode on Color Classic hacked to support 640 x 480 (8-bit color with VRAM upgrade)
- VRAM: accepts one 100ns VRAM SIMM, 256 KB standard, can be upgraded with single 512 KB VRAM SIMM, other specs unknown, VRAM SIMM appears to be specific to early Macs
- 10″ color screen, 512 x 384 pixels
- floppy drive: 1.4 MB double-sided
- hard drive: 40, 80, or 160 MB
- ADB ports: 2
- serial ports: 2 DIN-8 RS-422 ports on back of computer
- SCSI ports: DB-25 connector on back of computer
- expansion slot: LC PDS slot
- size (HxWxD): 14.5″ x 9.9″ x 12.6″
- weight: 22.5 lbs.
- PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA most common, although some use 4.5V Rayovac 840
- power supply: 100W
Accelerators & Upgrades
- Extreme Systems Impact ’030 (32 MHz 68030)
- MicroMac Thunder (32 MHz 68030), optional 16 MHz 68881 FPU
- MicroMac Thunder Cache (32 MHz 68030), 32 KB cache, optional 32 MHz 68882 FPU
- MicroMac ThunderPro (32 MHz 68030), optional 32 MHz 68882 FPU
- MicroMac ThunderCache Pro (32 MHz or 50 MHz 68030), optional 68882 FPU
- MicroMac 640 x 480 video upgrade
- Sonnet Technologies Presto 040 LC (25 MHz 68040 or 68LC040), incompatible with extra VRAM, discontinued
- Sonnet Presto Plus (33 MHz 68LC040 or 68040, Ethernet, and 32 MB additional RAM)
- Colour Classic II (rare) or LC 550 motherboard (33 MHz 68030), although port cover will no longer fit after installing LC 550 motherboard
- Color Classic Mini FAQ
- Guide to Compact Macs, a quick overview of Apple’s 10 models.
- Creating Classic Mac boot floppies in OS X, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2008.08.07. Yes, it is possible to create a boot floppy for the Classic Mac OS using an OS X Mac that doesn’t have Classic. Here’s how.
- The compressed air keyboard repair, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Know your Mac’s upgrade options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Why you should partition your Mac’s hard drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ‘emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Attractive and ugly Macs, discontinued MacBook Pro value, and writing with TextEdit, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.10.30. Readers weigh in on the good, the bad, and the ugly of Macintosh design over the past 24 years.
- 10 cult Macs adored by collectors, Tamara Keel, Digital Fossils, 2008.05.13. Macs are not only noted for their longevity, but also by the passion which collectors have for some of the most interesting models ever made.
- A vintage Mac network can be as useful as a modern one, Carl Nygren, My Turn, 2008.04.08. Old Macs can exchange data and share an Internet connection very nicely using Apple’s old LocalTalk networking.
- Low End Mac’s best classic Mac OS deals. Best online prices for System 6, 7.1, 7.5.x, Mac OS 7.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 9.0, 9.2.2, and other versions.
- Vintage Mac networking and file exchange, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.19. How to network vintage Macs with modern Macs and tips on exchanging files using floppies, Zip disks, and other media.
- Getting inside vintage Macs and swapping out bad parts, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.14. When an old Mac dies, the best source of parts is usually another dead Mac with different failed parts.
- Solving Mac startup problems, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.12. When your old Mac won’t boot, the most likely culprits are a dead PRAM battery or a failed (or failing) hard drive.
- Better and safer surfing with Internet Explorer and the Classic Mac OS, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.11.06. Tips on which browsers work best with different Mac OS versions plus extra software to clean cookies and caches, detect viruses, handle downloads, etc.
- A (Mac) classic spookfest, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2007.10.31. How to set up those old compact Macs with screen savers to enhance your Halloween experience.
- The 10 worst Macs ever, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2007.10.23. The ten worst Macs of all time – and one of them came out just last year.
- Simple Macs for simple tasks, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2007.10.19. Long live 680×0 Macs and the classic Mac OS. For simple tasks such as writing, they can provide a great, low distraction environment.
- Interchangeabilty and compatibility of Apple 1.4 MB SuperDrive floppy drives, Sonic Purity, Mac Daniel, 2007.09.26. Apple used two kinds of high-density floppy drives on Macs, auto-inject and manual inject. Can they be swapped?
- Apple’s consumer Performa line, 1992 to 1997, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2007.09.14. Apple decided to pursue the average consumer by renaming existing Macs, bundling them with software, and putting their colorful boxes in regular retail outlets.
- Mac System 7.5.5 can do anything Mac OS 7.6.1 can, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.06.04. Yes, it is possible to run Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and SoundJam with System 7.5.5. You just need to have all the updates – and make one modification for SoundJam.
- Appearance Manager allows Internet Explorer 5.1.7 to work with Mac OS 7.6.1, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.05.23. Want a fairly modern browser with an old, fast operating system? Mac OS 7.6.1 plus the Appearance Manager and Internet Explorer may be just what you want.
- The truth about CRTs and shock danger, Tom Lee, Online Tech Journal, 2007.05.22. You’ve been warned that CRT voltage can injure and even kill. The truth is that this danger is overstated – and takes attention away from a greater danger.
- Format any drive for older Macs with patched Apple tools, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.04.25. Apple HD SC Setup and Drive Setup only work with Apple branded hard drives – until you apply the patches linked to this article.
- Making floppies and CDs for older Macs using modern Macs, Windows, and Linux PCs, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.03.15. Older Macs use HFS floppies and CDs. Here are the free resources you’ll need to write floppies or CDs for vintage Macs using your modern computer.
- Color Me Classic, James & John, RetroMacCast, 2007.01.07. Looking at the Color Classic, an Apple towel, and Susan Kare.
- System 7 Today, advocates of Apple’s ‘orphan’ Mac OS 7.6.1, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.10.26. Why Mac OS 7.6.1 is far better for 68040 and PowerPC Macs than System 7.5.x.
- 30 days of old school computing: No real hardships, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.10.11. These old black-and-white Macs are just fine for messaging, word processing, spreadsheets, scheduling, contact management, and browsing the Web.
- Jag’s House, where older Macs still rock, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.09.25. Over a decade old, Jag’s House is the oldest Mac website supporting classic Macs and remains a great resource for vintage Mac users.
- 30 days of old school computing: Setting up a Mac Classic II, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.09.07. Fond memories of using a Classic II in elementary school lead to it being the first Mac set up for a month of vintage, very low-end computing.
- Misleading hard drive capacity and the WD settlement, long term Mac value, SCSI drive upgrades, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2006.07.05. Also thoughts on Color Classic upgrades, questions about Low End Mac’s online survey, iPod hard drive upgrades, and the value of a used iPod.
- Floppy drive observations: A compleat guide to Mac floppy drives and disk formats, Scott Baret, Online Tech Journal, 2006.06.29. A history of the Mac floppy from the 400K drive in the Mac 128K through the manual-inject 1.4M SuperDrives used in the late 1990s.
- Compact Flash with SCSI Macs, PB 1400 CD-RW upgrade problems, and Web incompatibilities, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2006.06.16. Suggested ways to use Compact Flash with vintage Macs and PowerBooks, problems getting CD-RW to work with a PowerBook 1400, and more thoughts on website incompatibilities.
- Moving files from your new Mac to your vintage Mac, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2006.06.13. Old Macs use floppies; new ones don’t. Old Macs use AppleTalk; Tiger doesn’t support it. New Macs can burn CDs, but old CD drives can’t always read CD-R. So how do you move the files?
- System 7.6.1 is perfect for many older Macs, John Martorana, That Old Mac Magic, 2006.03.24. Want the best speed from your old Mac? System 7.6.1 can give you that with a fairly small memory footprint – also helpful on older Macs.
- System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6: The beginning and end of an era, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.02.15. System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6 introduced many new features and greater modernity while staying within reach of most early Macintosh models.
- Turning an LC or other ancient Mac into a webcam with a QuickCam, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.01.25. As long as it has 4 MB of RAM and a hard drive, any 16 MHz or faster Mac that supports color can be configured as a webcam.
- Web browser tips for the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.01.03. Tips on getting the most out of WaMCom, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, iCab, Opera, and WannaBe using the classic Mac OS.
- Which system software is best for my vintage Mac?, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.11.22. Which system software works best depends to a great extent on just which Mac you have and how much RAM is installed.
- Why you should use Mac OS 7.6 to get the most out of vintage Macs, Thomas Ahart, The Productive Mac, 2005.12.12. Although you may be able to run OS 8 or 9 on your old Mac, you’ll generally find better performance using Mac OS 7.6.
- A history of the Color Classic, Tom Hormby, Orchard, 2005.10.31. The first all-in-one Mac with a color display had a bold new look but was crippled on the inside.
- 10 things new classic Mac owners should know, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2005.12.06. New to compact Macs? Ten things you really should know before you get too confused.
- The compact Macs, Matthew Glidden, Profiles in Networking, ATPM, 2002.06. LocalTalk and ethernet networking for compact Macs.
- Colour Classic Upgrade Mega FAQ, Chris Lawson. Want a 640 x 480 screen, 40 MHz 68040, or even a PowerPC in your CC? Learn more here!
- The 10 worst Macs ever built, Remy Davison, Insanely Great Mac, 2001.08.06
- New Color Classic 640 x 480 screen mod, Chris Lawson, 2001.07.13. Modification requires 520, 550, or 575 motherboard.
- Colo(u)r Classic Forum, a message board for Color Classic users.
- Guide to LC PDS Video Cards. Includes Focus, Radius, and RasterOps cards for the LC processor direct slot.
- CD on CC, Stuart Bell, Colour Classic Compendium. Not one, not two, but three different Colour Classics beautifully modified with internal CD-ROM drives.
- Upgrading the Color Classic, Chris Lawson, 2001.05.23
- Best compact Mac for QuickTime, Chris Lawson, 2000.08.30
- A long-discontinued Macintosh still thrills collectors to the core, Paul Kunkel, New York Times, 8/24/00. Love of the Color Classic, “one of the most sought-after cult objects in the Mac universe.” [Registration required for this site.]
- Macintosh Color Classic enhancement page, Jamal Hannah.
- Games for ’030s, Brian Rumsey, Low End Mac Gaming, 2000.05.26. A look at games that run nicely on the old 68030-based Macs.
- Good Macs come in small packages, Wired, 2000.05.15. “…for some Apple enthusiasts, the company will never improve one of its earliest computers, the Color Classic.”
- Hands on: Sonnet Presto Plus, Mark Looper, 2000.03.02
- Building a Power Colour Classic, Stuart Bell. Finally, a helpful English-language resource for boosting the Color Classic to a 68040, 603, or even a G3.
- Building a Power Colour Classic
- Review: Sonnet Presto
- Faster browsing on older Macs, Online Tech Journal
- Mac Daniel #1
- Information on 32-bit addressing
- Email lists: Classic Macs Digest, Compact Macs
- Color Classic Forever, an obsession
- Memory upgrade guide
- Read user reviews of the MicroMac and Sonnet accelerators.
- Printed reviews: Macworld, April 1993; Mac User, 1993.04
- Macintosh Color Classic Technical Specifications, Apple Knowledge Base Archive
- Macintosh Performa 250 Technical Specifications, Apple Knowledge Base Archive
- Serial port normally restricted to 57.6 kbps; throughput with a 56k modem may be limited. See 56k modem page. For more information on Mac serial ports, read Macintosh Serial Throughput.