The iMac Channel

A Compact iMac?

Dan Knight - 1998.09.10 - Tip Jar

A compact iMac? Isn't it already small enough?

Yes, the iMac is remarkably tiny for a computer with a built-in 15" monitor. But I'm thinking smaller: modular.

The motherboard in the iMac is a marvel of miniaturization and economical design. I don't have its dimensions, but it would probably fit comfortably in an old Macintosh LC case.

The market for this iMac isn't the first time buyer, but someone who already has a computer and monitor, whether Mac or Windows.

This is a thought experiment: How can we make the most affordable iMac?

First, eliminate the internal monitor, which may be the most expensive component. Not only does this directly reduce the size and cost of the iMac, it also makes it lighter (lower shipping costs) and permits use of a smaller power supply (further reducing costs).

Second, design it so it could either support a 15" screen on top of the computer or sit next to a larger monitor. The whole thing could be about the size of a "zero-footprint" hard drive (about 10" square, 3" tall). Be sure the top is scuff resistant. And don't forget the tiny speakers.

The iMac motherboard already has a DB-15 video port, so Apple could just run that to the outside of the case (maybe the side for easy access). And ship it with an adapter so users could attach a VGA monitor.

Make CD-ROM optional. Build in a device bay like the PowerBook G3 uses. This makes it easy to pop in a CD-ROM or DVD player - or the infamous missing floppy, a Zip drive, etc.

Think different about the power supply. Instead of building it into the box, use a power brick like PowerBooks and StyleWriters use. This will also let the computer run cooler, since the AC isn't being turned to DC inside the machine.

Accessories

Apple could sell a Windows bundle: the modular iMac, 64 MB RAM, Virtual PC, file transfer kit, and PowerPrint. (Hmm, a $1,000 Windows computer?) Owners of older Macs could use the LocalTalk adapter to send files between computers. Maybe Apple could even offer a memory-free version for users who want to install their own RAM.

Of course, all this assumes Apple will meet the ongoing demand for the iMac, leaving enough parts to consider putting the iMac motherboard in a different case.

This would be a great way for Apple to reward longtime Mac users, by making an iMac that can use some of our older hardware and making it easy to move files to the new computer.

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