The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (or TAM) was a radical change from existing computers. The slim unit (just 2.5″ deep) uses the same kind of LCD screen usually found in laptops. Bose Acoustimass stereo speakers surround it, along with a large subwoofer in the base power unit, for really exceptional sound.
The 12.1″ active-matrix screen and leather-bound keyboard are based on parts shared with the PowerBook 3400c. It doesn’t come with a numeric keypad or mouse, but does include a trackpad. The TAM uses a 2.5″ laptop hard drive, the first desktop Mac to do so (the second was the first Mac mini, introduced in 2005).
The logic board is based on the “Gazelle” architecture shared by the Power Mac 5500 and 6500. According to MacSpeedZone, upgrading the 256 KB level 2 (L2) cache to 512 KB boosts performance by 15%; going to 1 MB improves it by 27%. Some power users have used the L2 cache slot to upgrade to a G3 processor.
Apple built 12,000 TAMs, making it a bit less rare than the Macintosh TV, which had 10,000 units made. 399 of those TAMs were retained by Apple for use as service parts. Like the Mac TV, the TAM had a built-in television tuner, but it also included an FM radio. Then again, the TAM was very expensive, while Mac TV was aimed at consumers; finding either in good working order today will fetch a hefty premium.
Though the TAM wasn’t a success, it was one of the first high-profile projects of renowned designer Jonathan Ive at Apple. Within five years Apple introduced the second desktop Mac with an LCD monitor, the 15″ iMac G4. But it wasn’t until August 2004 that the first thinner, lighter iMac G5 arrived in 17″ and 20″ editions, the true successor to the TAM’s design — a design that iMacs continue to use to this day.
The TAM’s internal 2 GB drive originally shipped with Mac OS 7.6.1, which only supported standard HFS formatting. Steve Wozniak warned that using a disk partition larger than 4 GB would cause the system to hang, while other users have experienced mixed results. Mac OS 8.1 introduced HFS Plus (also known as Mac OS Extended), which allowed drives to be formatted up to 136 GB (the limit allowed by the TAM’s ATA-5 IDE controller).
- Code names: Pomona, Spartacus
- Introduced 1997.03.20 at $7,499, discontinued 1998.03.14
- Part no.: M3459 (base unit)
- Gestalt ID: 512
- Upgrade path: L2 cache slot upgrades
- Requires Mac OS 7.6.1 (with System Enabler 704) through 9.1 (Mac OS 8.0 also requires a special version)
- CPU: 250 MHz PPC 603e with built-in floating-point unit
- Level 2 cache: 256 KB, expandable to 1 MB
- Bus: 50 MHz
- ROM: 4 MB
- RAM: 32 MB (expandable to 128 MB, accepts two 168-pin 5V 60ns or faster EDO or FPM DIMMs)
- Power supply: 90-130/180-264 volts, 140 watt maximum, 478.8 BTU per hour.
- CPU performance: 237, MacBench 4
- GPU: ATI 3D Rage II
- VRAM: 2 MB built-in SGRAM
- Video: 12.1″ 800 x 600 at 8- or 16-bit. 24-bit video support may be possible with ATI January 2002 retail drivers, as noted by Rudy V. Pancaro in the archived Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh forum, although the display itself only supports 18-bit output (6 bits per color channel).
- Floppy drive: 1.4 MB Apple SuperDrive (manual insert)
- Hard drive: 2 GB 2.5″ ATA/EIDE drive, 136 GB maximum with HFS+ and Mac OS 8.1 or later, upgrades may require some modification as the mounting holes in the original drive bracket do not match newer notebook IDE drives.
- CD-ROM: 4x SCSI
- ADB ports: 1 Mini DIN-4, maximum power draw of 500mA total for up to 3 devices, additional port on back of keyboard. Keyboard draws 25-80mA, trackpad draws up to 10mA.
- SCSI: DB-25 connector on back of computer, supports up to 6 external devices.
- Serial ports: 2 Mini DIN-9 GeoPorts, with external GeoPort Telecom Adapter capable of 33.6kbps.
- PCI slots: 1 6.88″ PCI 2.0 compliant slot, 15 watt maximum.
- Comm slot II: installing an internal modem in the comm slot will disable the modem GeoPort.
- Other expansion slots: 1 internal pass-through video socket (mirrors built-in screen), 1 internal DAV socket (for use with video editing and ISDN cards)
- Other ports: 2 F-type tuner connectors for TV and FM, S-video input (compatible with NTSC, PAL and SECAM), 3.5mm 16-bit stereo input and output ports on back and headphone jack in front, Apple PlainTalk microphone included.
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 17.25″x16.5″x10.0″ (43.8×41.9×25.4 cm)
- Weight: 14.9 lbs. (6.8 kg)
Accelerators & Upgrades
- The 20th Anniversary Mac, 21 Years Later, Tommy Yune, 2018.03.14
- 20th Anniversary Mac Facebook group. Not too many single models get their own group!
- The 20th Anniversary Macintosh web site. An archive of one of the oldest websites dedicated to the TAM.
- Upgrading the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh. Good upgrade advice, although some products are no longer available.
- Six of the Rarest Macs, Benj Edwards, Macworld, 2012.10.19. JLPGA PowerBook 170. Colour Classic II. Macintosh TV. PowerBook 550c. 20th Anniversary Mac.
- The Five Weirdest Macs of All Time, Benj Edwards, Macworld, 2012.10.12. Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian iMacs. Twentieth Anniversary Mac. Power Mac G4 Cube. Macintosh XL. Power Mac G3 All-in-One.
- Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to Mac OS 9, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.05.12. Mac OS 9 remains fast and stable, but Classic software hasn’t kept up with the changing internet. Which Macs support OS 9, where to buy it, and how to update to 9.2.2.
- The good, the bad, and the ugly of AppleDesign, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.10.15. Apple has produced some beautiful computers and iPods over the years, but also a few of the ugliest and most ungainly computers ever seen.
- The 25 most important Macs, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.02.17. The 25 most significant Macs in the first 25 years of the platform, continued.
- 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 W 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.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles W 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.
- 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.
- TAM I Am, James & John, RetroMacCast, 2006.12.25. Looking at the 20th Anniversary Mac, classic Mac scanners, and the MacMania cruise.
- 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.
- The best browsers for PowerPC Macs and the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2005.12.16. Two browsers stand out from the pack: iCab 3 is modern and remains under development, and WaMCom brings Mozilla to older Macs.
- Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh Upgrades, Mac Speed Zone
- Apple Repair Manuals: Service manuals for pre-G3 PowerMacs, including the 20th Anniversary Mac
- Apple Support: Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh: Technical Specifications (archived, with more detail)
- Steve Wozniak noted on Go2Mac.com that, “A volume over 4 GB will not work in a TAM. It causes what appears to be total death in a short time, like when enough of it gets used.”
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