The first cable-ready Macintosh! No, not ready for a cable modem – ready for cable TV.
More or less a black LC 520 (complete with a black mouse and black keyboard), Macintosh TV lets you watch 16-bit TV or use 8-bit computer graphics. (Assuming you were in the US, Canada, or some other country using NTSC video. Mac TV doesn’t support any other broadcast standard.)
This was perhaps the oddest Macintosh ever. It was the last desktop Mac with a 68030 processor, the first with a built-in TV tuner, the first black desktop Mac, and the first Mac to ship with a remote control. It is the only model in the “500 Series” that doesn’t have an available PDS (Processor Direct Slot) – that gave way to the TV tuner. The built-in 14″ Trinitron monitor displays 16-bit TV images, but only 8-bit computer graphics. Software allows it to capture a single TV frame as a PICT file.
Alas, you can’t watch TV and compute at the same time. It was an interesting experiment, marketed exclusively through consumer electronic channels. If it had used a 68040 CPU giving users the option of watching TV in a small window while computing or the ability to capture TV as a QuickTime movie, this could have been a serious contender. Instead, it is a curious footnote in Apple’s history.
Despite using a 32 MHz CPU, Mac TV is about 15% slower than the 25 MHz LC III and LC 520 because it uses a 16 MHz data bus. Cleverly designed in some ways, intentionally crippled in others, Mac TV merits the Road Apple label. The biggest drawbacks are a complete lack of upgrade options (without losing the TV features) and an 8 MB memory ceiling.
Regardless, this Mac looks great in black. Too bad only 10,000 were ever produced, making it one the most rare Macs ever.
- Got a Mac TV or other vintage Mac? Join our Vintage Macs Group.
- introduced 1993.10.25 at $2,079; discontinued 1994.04
- requires System 7.1 (with Enabler 404) to 7.6.1
- CPU: 32 MHz 68030
- FPU: none, not even as an option
- Performance: 7.0 MIPS
- ROM: 1 MB
- RAM: 5 MB from factory (4 MB on motherboard, expandable to 8 MB using a single 100ns 72-pin SIMM; can use 1 MB or 4 MB SIMM)
- video: 512 KB VRAM; supports 640 x 480 at 8-bits
- L2 cache: none
- Hard drive: 60 MB
- CD-ROM: 2x
- ADB: 2 ports for keyboard and mouse
- serial: 2 DIN-8 RS-422 ports on back of computer
- SCSI: DB-25 connector on back of computer
- Hard drive: 160 MB
- no expansion slots
- size (HxWxD): 17.9″ x 13.5″ x 16.5″
- Weight: 40.5 lb.
- PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
- Gestalt ID: 88
- addressing: 32-bit
- Six of the Rarest Macs, Benj Edwards, Macworld, 2012.10.19. JLPGA PowerBook 170. Colour Classic II. Macintosh TV. PowerBook 550c. 20th Anniversary Mac.
- 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 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- Hacking Mac OS 7.6.1 so many Mac OS 8 apps will run, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.10.30. With a little ResEdit work and a second copy of your System Folder, you can run a lot of OS 8 apps with Mac OS 7.6.1.
- 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.
- Interchangeabilty and Compatibility of Apple 1.4 MB Floppy SuperDrives, 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?
- 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.
- I Want My Mac TV!, James & John, RetroMacCast, 2007.01.21. Looking at Macintosh TV, Apple’s eMate, and the iPhone trademark dispute.
- 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.
- Clamshell iBook viability, problem reading CD-R, OS X unstable with video compression, iCab 3.0.3, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.08.21. Also possible solution for booting into OS 9, WallStreet upgrade value, Power Mac no longer jinxed, Mac TV value, AIM for ancient Macs, and more.
- OS X features for OS 9, Opera as default browser, Mac TV value, jinxed Power Mac, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.08.02. Also an unexpected iMac G3 startup problem, where to find older versions of AOL Instant Messenger, and a homemade digital Rolleiflex TLR.
- 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.
- Mac TV, MLAgazine, 2005.01.10. Long before Microsoft began pushing Media Center computers, Apple made a Mac with a built-in TV tuner.
- Macintosh TV, Apple Museum, Dr Bott
- Mac TV, a Macintosh and a TV in one, DigiBarn
- Email lists: Classic Macs Digest, Vintage Macs
- Memory upgrade guide
- Unix? You can run NetBSD (aka MacBSD), a version of Unix, on Mac TV.
- Macintosh TV Technical Specifications, Apple Knowledge Base Archive
- Macintosh TV, Apple History
- Macintosh TV Specs, EveryMac
- 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.
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