Color Classic, a Compromised Mac

Second Class Macs are Apple’s somewhat compromised hardware designs. For the most part, they’re not really bad – simply designs that didn’t meet their full potential. The first color compact Mac, the Color Classic, was full of compromises.

Mac Color ClassicProving you can’t take a compromised design too far, Apple recycled the 32-bit CPU on a 16-bit bus architecture of the LC, LC II, and Classic II, this time in a compact Mac with a color screen. It is also the first compact Mac since the SE/30 to feature an expansion slot.

Unlike the Classic II, which supports the standard compact Mac 1-bit 512 x 384 monitor, or the LC and LC II, which supported both a 512 x 384 color monitor and a standard 640 x 480 monitor, the Color Classic only supports it built-in 512 x 384 color monitor. This makes it incompatible with a fair bit of color software that expects the larger 640 x 480 screen, the same problem LC owners had with Apple’s 12″ color display. (Some hardware gurus found a way to modify the Color Classic to support 640 x 480 on the internal screen.)

Apple did introduce a few innovations with the Color Classic:

  • a built-in microphone
  • a readily accessible motherboard – just open the rear panel and slide out the board for upgrades.

One important option, especially for the education market, was the Apple II card for the processor direct slot (PDS). On the down side, many accelerators for the PDS that work in the LC and/or LC II don’t work properly in the Color Classic (for reviews, go to our main Color Classic page).

Still, it wasn’t a really bad Mac, just a compromised one.

Pretty much every one of its limitations was overcome by the Color Classic II, which unfortunately was never marketed in the United States).


  • introduced February 1993 at $1,390; discontinued May 1994
  • requires System 7.1 to 7.6.1
  • CPU: 16 MHz 68030
  • FPU: 68882 (optional)
  • Performance: 1.7 (relative to SE)
  • RAM: 4 MB, expandable to 10 MB using two 100ns 30-pin SIMMs
  • VRAM: 256 KB, expandable to 512 KB for 16-bit color
  • 10″ color screen, 512 x 384 pixels
  • 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
  • LC PDS slot

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One thought on “Color Classic, a Compromised Mac

  1. Still got one I had purchased new. It works fine, and amazes people used to compact Macs in grayscale only. ;-)

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