Timeline of 680×0 Computers, 1991-1996

Apple, Atari, and Commodore Amiga all made personal computers based on the Motorola 680×0 family of processors. This article covers models introduced since the start of 1991. For earlier models, see Timeline of 680×0 Computers, 1980-1990.

680×0-based Personal Computers, 1991-

1991

1992

1993

1994

  • Macintosh LC 550 and 575, February
  • Amiga 4000
  • Commodore shuts down Amiga and files for voluntary liquidation in April
  • PowerBook Duo 280 and 280c, April
  • PowerBook 500 series, May
  • Macintosh LC 630, July
  • PowerBook 150, July

1995

  • Escom purchases Commodore International
  • Macintosh LC 580, April
  • PowerBook 190 and 190cs, August, last 680×0 PowerBooks
  • PowerBook Duo 2300c, August, leaves 680×0 behind for PowerPC

1996

  • Amiga, Inc., founded

1997

  • Gateway acquires Amiga trademark and technologies

1991

Commodore CDTV, March 1991

The CTDV was an attempt to turn the Amiga 500 into the hub of your home entertainment center. The system was packaged to look like a stereo component and had a built-in CD-ROM drive. We only mention it here because it was an Amiga beneath the skin.

Atari ST Book laptop, May 1991, first true 680×0 laptop

Atari ST BookThe Atari Stacy portable had been a hit, but it didn’t run from batteries, so it wasn’t quite a laptop. That honor goes to the Atari ST Book. Based on the Atari STE, the ST Book gave up a floppy drive and backlit display to improve battery life – and the ST Book provides an impressive 10 hours of battery life!

It wasn’t a particularly powerful machine, running an 8 MHz 68HC000 CPU, shipped with 1 MB of memory, and supports up to 4 MB. A 40 MB hard drive was standard with 80 and 120 MB options.

The 10.4″ non-backlit screen is quite good and has 640 x 400 resolution. There is no output for an external monitor.

The ST Book weighs just 5.4 lb. and is only 1.5″ thick.

Amiga 500+, September 1991?

Amiga 500The Amiga 500 was introduced in April 1987 and replaced by the 500+ in late 1991. It was a cost reduced version of the A500 with an Enhanced Chip Set and shipped with AmigaOS 2.04. It looked almost identical to the earlier version.

One of the A500 Plus’ few improvements over the A500 was 1 MB of base memory with support for 10 MB of memory, a bit better than the 512 KB base memory and 9 MB ceiling of the A500.

The A500 Plus was never sold in the US. It was replaced by the A600 in summer 1992.

Macintosh Classic II, October 1991

Mac ClassicOne year after Apple introduced the underwhelming 8 MHz Mac Classic, it took a big step forward with the Mac Classic II. And it took some steps backward compared to the Mac SE/30. Apple gives and Apple takes away.

The logic board of the Classic II is similar to the one in the Mac LC, but with a 68030 CPU, no expansion slot, no video out port, and no Mac OS in ROM. Same 32-bit CPU on a 16-bit data bus. Same 10 MB memory ceiling.

Those who knew the difference picked up SE/30s while they could with its 32-bit data path and PDS (processor direct slot) expansion slot. Not that the Classic II was terrible in itself, just by comparison.

The Classic II retailed for $1,900 with 2 MB of memory and a 40 MB hard drive. It was the last Mac to use a 9″ 512 x 342 pixel black-and-white display.

Macintosh Quadra 700 and 900, October 1991, first 68040 models

At the same time it introduced the Classic II, Apple unveiled its first two Macs based on the powerful Motorola 68040 CPU. Benefits of the ‘040 include a built-in math coprocessor (FPU) and memory manager (MMU). The ‘040 has separate 4 KB caches for data and instructions, and it delivered 4x the performance per MHz as the 68030 and outperformed the comparable Intel 80486 at the same clock speed.

Quadra 700

The Quadra 700 and 900 were built around a 25 MHz 68040 CPU and had a lot more processing power than the “wicked fast” Mac IIfx from 1990. They are also the oldest Macs to support Mac OS 8. The 700 was built into a refreshed version of the Mac IIcx and IIci case and looked best as a minitower, because the name and Apple logo were oriented that way.

The Quadra 700 has built-in graphics, like the Mac IIci, and has 512 MB of dedicated video memory (VRAM) on the system board, so it doesn’t use system memory for video (the IIci does). Maximum resolution is 1152 x 870 pixels, and VRAM can be upgraded to 2 GB, which allows 24-bit color at 832 x 624 and lower resolutions.

The Quadra 700 has only two NuBus slots, one less than the IIcx and IIci, and it also has a 68040 PDS (processor direct slot). The two slots are NuBus 90, which runs at 20 MHz vs. 10 MHz for the original NuBus specification. The PDS is aligned with one of the NuBus slots, making it unlikely you can use both. It shipped with 4 MB of memory and supports up to 68 MB. The 700 originally sold for $6,000.

Macintosh Quadra 900The Quadra 900 was Apple’s new top-end Mac and could use up to 256 MB of memory (it shipped with 4 MB). It was almost as expandable as the Mac II, IIx, and IIfx with five NuBus 90 slots. The base configuration sold for $7,200.

The Quadra 900 shipped with 1 MB of VRAM, which can be expanded to 2 MB. This supports 8-bit video up to 1152 x 870 pixels and 24-bit at up to 832 x 624.

The Quadra 900 was the first Mac with a front-accessible 5-1/4″ drive bay, which was originally intended for a tape drive but was more commonly used for a CD-ROM drive or SyQuest drive.

This monstrously powerful computer weighed nearly 37 lb. and had a security key that could be set to on, off, or secure. If you do acquire a Quadra 900, be sure it includes the key!

Macintosh PowerBook 100, October 1991

Powerbook 160Apple also introduced its PowerBook line of laptops in October 1991. They all had a similar design with the trackball forward of the keyboard, but the PowerBook 100 (PB 100) was otherwise quite different from its siblings.

Apple contracted with Sony to shrink the Mac Portable as much as was reasonable – and in keeping with the PowerBook 140 and 170, which had already been designed. The PB 100 was 1.8″ thick, had an 8.5″ x 11″ footprint, and weighed just 5.1 lb. – less than one-third as much as the 16 lb. Mac Portable.

The PB 100 was built around a 16 MHz 68HC000 CPU, giving it the same power as the Mac Portable, and it shipped with 2 MB of pseudostatic RAM (expandable to 8 MB). Apple also released System 6.0.8L for the PB 100, since the base 2 MB wasn’t very practical with System 7.

Where the Portable had a 640 x 400 active matrix display, the PB 100 used a passive matrix screen to reduce costs. The PB 100 can retain the contents of its memory as long as the battery holds a charge, allowing for quick startup and the use of a RAM Disk.

Like the Portable, the PB 100 used a lead-acid battery that could keep it going for nearly 4 hours of use. Unlike the Portable, it does not have a built-in floppy drive. That was a $230 external device. It was also the first Mac with SCSI Disk Mode.

The PB 100 initially retailed at $2,299 ($2,499 with the external floppy), which was reduced by $300 in February 1992. In April 1992, it cut another $500 from the price of the base PB 100, dropping its retail price to $1,499 (and just $1,599 with floppy). At that price, buyers cleaned out inventory in short order.

Macintosh PowerBook 140 and 170, October 1991

PowerBook 170The powerhouse models were the 68030-based PowerBook 140, which runs at 16 MHz, and PowerBook 170, which runs at a 25 MHz clip. Like the PB 100, the 140 and 170 shipped with 2 MB of memory on the logic board, which can be expanded as far as 8 MB. These models have a built-in floppy drive and weigh 6.8 lb.

The PB 140 was the budget machine. It had a 9.8″ 1-bit 640 x 400 pixel passive matrix display and included a 20 MB hard drive in its $3,000 configuration. The battery lasted for about two hours of use. There was no FPU and no way to add one.

The PB 170 was the premium model and included a 25 MHz 68882 FPU, a 1-bit active matrix display, and a 40 MB hard drive with a $4,600 price tag.

1992

Amiga 600, March 1992

The Amiga 600 is essentially an Amiga 500+ with room for an internal hard drive. It was the last 68000-based Amiga, still running at the same 7.13 MHz speed of the Amiga 1000. Whatever the reason, Commodore left off the numeric keypad that was on the A500 and A500+, making some games that used these keys unusable.

In typically confusing Commodore Amiga fashion, the A600 supports up to 2 MB of “chip” memory and 4 MB of “fast” memory (via a PC Card slot). Third-party upgrades can go beyond that.

Macintosh LC II, March 1992

Macintosh LCAfter 17 months as the low cost color Mac, Apple replaced the LC with the Mac LC II. There were only a few differences:

  • The LC II has a 16 MHz 68030 and supports virtual memory.
  • The LC II has 4 MB of onboard system memory, but still a 10 MB maximum. If you add 8 MB of RAM, it ignores the last 2 MB.
  • There was no dual-floppy option, which had been a popular, low-cost option in the education market.
  • The LC II requires System 7.

Best of all, the LC II retailed for $1,400 with a 40 MB hard drive – $1,000 less than the Mac LC with a 40 MB hard drive had when it was released. In the minds of most, the LC II is exactly what the LC should have been in 1990.

Macintosh Quadra 950, March 1992

The Quadra 900 was a 25 MHz beast of a Mac, and the Quadra 950 took that one step forward by moving to a 33 MHz 68040 CPU.

PowerBook 145, August 1992

With the PowerBook 145, Apple replaced the 16 MHz 68030 in the PB 140 with a 25 MHz 68030. The only other difference is the addition of a 120 MB hard drive option.

Amiga 4000, October 1992

Amiga 4000With the Amiga 4000, Commodore jumped into the 68040 world with a new top-end model in October 1992. The A4000/040 uses a 25 MHz 68040 CPU and retained the system architecture of the A3000, the most significant difference being dropping SCSI in favor of less costly IDE. The A4000 shipped with AmigaOS 3.0.

In April 1993, a less costly 25 MHz 68030-based model, the A4000/030, was introduced.

The A4000 was the first model to use Amiga’s new 32-bit Advanced Graphics Architecture (AGA), which supports 24-bit color – a big step up from the 12-bit 4,096 color palette of the past. For the first time, all color modes were available at all resolutions, another big improvement.

The A4000 shipped with 2 MB of chip memory and supports up to 16 MB of fast memory. Third-party developers created faster 68040 upgrades, 68060 upgrades, and even PowerPC upgrades for the A4000.

An expanded tower version, the Amiga 4000T, was released in 1994, the last new computer produced by Commodore – and in limited number, as Commodore was on life support. The A4000T has both SCSI and IDE support on the system board. The original A4000T uses a 25 MHz 68040, and in 1995 a top-end model with a 50 MHz 68060 was introduced by Escom.

PowerBook Duo 210 and 230, October 1992

PowerBook Duo in a DuoDock

Apple launched a new line of compact notebooks called PowerBook Duo in October 1992. The new models weighed only 4.1 lb. and had an 8.5″ by 10.9″ footprint. Part of this reduction came from using a keyboard only 88% as large as a regular keyboard.

PowerBook Duos had a large dock connector in the rear, where other PowerBooks had things like ADB, SCSI, and other ports. The only port on the Duos was a printer/modem serial port. All expansion required the use of a dock, which had its own ports.

The Duo 210 has a 25 MHz 68030 CPU, while the Duo 230 has a 33 MHz 68030. They both have a passive matrix grayscale display, shipped with 4 MB of memory (with 24 MB maximum), and included System 7.1 on their release. They can both run up to Mac OS 7.6.1.

Amiga 1200, October 1992

Amiga 1200The Amiga 1200 replaced the A600 just seven months after its release. It brought back the numeric keypad from the A500 that had gone missing when the A600 was released.

The big improvement was moving from a 68000 CPU to the more powerful 68020 – and moving from 7.1 MHz to 14 MHz as well. The A1200 included 2 MB of chip memory in its base configuration, and you can add 8 MB of fast memory. It has the same AGA graphics chipset as the A4000.

The A1200 didn’t sell well and was Commodore’s last low-end model.

Atari Falcon, 1992

Atari Falcon 030The Atari Falcon030 Computer System was Atari’s last computer model. In addition to its 16 MHz 68030 CPU, it also has a Motorola 56000 digital signal processor (DSP). The Falcon was compromised by running its 32-bit CPU on a 16-bit data bus, something Apple had done with the Performa 600 that significantly reduced performance.

The Falcon has many new graphic modes using the new VIDEL video controller with support for 18-bit color (262,144 unique colors) and for VGA monitors. New is a 16-bit true color mode. Drawback is, video shares system memory with the CPU, so higher resolutions and higher bit-depths can slow down overall system performance.

The Falcon adds IDE hard drive support alongside Atari’s traditional SCSI for hard drives and optical drives. Falcon uses a 2.5″ IDE laptop hard drive.

Standard memory was 1 MB, with a 4 MB option and a 14 MB ceiling.

1993

Macintosh Color Classic, February 1993

Mac Color ClassicOn February 10, 1993, the world finally got a color compact Mac. The Color Classic (a.k.a. Colour Classic in many markets) had the brains of the Mac LC II, a built-in microphone, and a 10″ 512 x 384 pixel Sony Trinitron display. All this for $1,400 including a mouse and keyboard.

This made it a good choice for those who wanted to (or needed to) use the Apple IIe card, as the screen also supports 560 x 384 resolution – 4x the pixels of the Apple IIe’s 280 x 192 display.

The Color Classic was also marketed at the Performa 250 in the US.

Macintosh LC III, February 1993

With the Mac LC III, Apple finally unleashed the 68030 CPU. No longer tied to a 16-bit data bus, the LC III has a 32-bit data bus, uses new higher-capacity 72-pin SIMMs, and runs at a 25 MHz clock speed.

The LC III introduced a new version of the LC PDS that is backward compatible with 16-bit LC PDS cards; 32-bit cards have 18 additional pins. It has built-in support for 832 x 624 displays (Apple’s one-up version of the 800 x 600 SVGA display) and 512 KB of video RAM, expandable to 768 KB. Even without expansion, the LC III supports 16-bit color on a 640 x 480 monitor if you set the special 640 x 400 display mode.

The LC III retailed at $1,350 and was also sold as the Perform 450.

Macintosh Centris 610 and 650, February 1993

Apple also launched a new model line named Centris that sat between (in the center) 68030 Macs and more powerful 68040-based Quadras. The first two were the Centris 610, which used the less costly 68LC040 CPU at 20 MHz, and the Centris 650, based on the 25 MHz 68LC040.

Macintosh Quadra 800, February 1993

PowerBook 145B, June 1993

Macintosh LC 520, June 1993

Macintosh Centris 660av, July 1993

Macintosh Quadra 840AV, July 1993

Amiga CD32 console, September 1993

Macintosh Colour Classic II, October 1993

Macintosh LC III+ and 475, October 1993

Macintosh TV, October 1993

PowerBook Duo 250 and 270c, October 1993

1994

Macintosh LC 550 and 575, February 1994

Amiga A4000T

Commodore shuts down Amiga and files for voluntary liquidation in April 1994

PowerBook Duo 280 and 280c, April 1994

PowerBook 500 series, May 1994

Macintosh LC 630, July 1994

PowerBook 150, July 1994

1995

Escom purchases Commodore International

Escom overextended itself and declared bankruptcy on July 15, 1996.

Macintosh LC 580, April 1995

PowerBook 190 and 190cs, August 1995, last 680×0 PowerBooks

PowerBook Duo 2300c, August 1995, leaves 680×0 behind for PowerPC

1996

Amiga, Inc., founded

1997

Gateway acquires Amiga trademark and technologies

Gateway licensed the technologies to Amiga, Inc. in 1999. Amiga, Inc., also purchased the Amiga trademarks and copyrights.

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