The Tiny iMac

August 1998: The iMac is an impressive computing value: performance, expansion, and the world’s greatest OS. But it’s not designed for everyone.

Don CrabbBondi iMac and others have speculated that this iMac is the first of a family, just as the original Macintosh was. I was reading just the other day about a possible iMac Pro with a 17″ screen, drive bays, PCI slots, FireWire, and SCSI. About all it would share philosophically with the original iMac is case design.

The iMac is a consumer computer. The iMac Pro would be more of a business or design machine. But how about something less expensive?

More Consumer Friendly

Macintosh LCSome of Apple’s most popular models ever were the LC series. With a small footprint and reasonable price tag, they ended up in homes, schools, and even businesses.

Let’s reintroduce the concept, updated for the iMac era.

The Tiny iMac would repackage the iMac motherboard in as small a case as reasonable, probably something with a footprint similar to the LC. The only modification necessary would be a video port so the user could attach an existing Mac or multiscan monitor. We know it can be done, since several iMac prototypes were modified in this way.

The Tiny iMac could use the same drives and peripherals as the plain old iMac. It would look like a cross between an iMac and an LC, with a flat enough, strong enough top to support up to a 17″ monitor.

Apple would be able to offer the Tiny iMac for hundreds of dollars less than the original by eliminating the display, reducing the capacity of the power supply, and not having to ship a huge box with a 39 pound computer in it.

The natural market for the Tiny iMac is people who want an iMac but don’t want to surrender their large monitor – or simply can’t afford $1,299. Mac users would clamor to it, attaching their old Apple 13″ Trinitron displays or whatever else they might own.

The Tiny iMac also makes it more affordable for PC owners to upgrade by lowering costs and letting them reuse their old monitors. A special deal on Virtual PC would even let them use their old software.

I Want One!

I’d like a Tiny iMac myself, but for an even different reason.

Mac mini, original designToday I tote files between work and home on Zip disks. If I had a Tiny iMac, I could transport the whole computer between locations. I could either attach it to a spare monitor at work or attach it to ethernet and control it with Timbuktu.

I know Apple is making iMacs as fast as they can right now, but once the iMac settles down, I hope they’ll consider a Tiny iMac, not just a Pro.

For many users, it could be an even better value than the iMac.

Update: Apple finally came through on this concept when it introduced the Mac mini in January 2005. It has remained in the Mac line ever since (as of Feb. 2018). I’ve been using one for years.

Further Reading

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