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Apple's best, worst Macs in 25-yr history

updated 05:00 pm EST, Fri January 23, 2009

25 years of Mac

January 24th will mark the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh, Apple's flagship product. The computer was the first commercially successful system to include a mouse and a graphical interface, and is widely seen as having made personal computers accessible to the general public, rather than just people with technical expertise. Apple would continue to expand the technology over the coming years, and adopt a number of different names, such as Performa, PowerBook, iMac and Mac Pro.

Computerworld draws attention to what it calls the top 10 Macs of all time; aside from the original, the PowerBook 100 series is noted for creating a truly portable Mac, and originating the concepts of palm rests and centrally-placed trackballs in notebooks. The iMac helped revive Apple as a company, while the MacBook Air is noted for introducing aluminum unibody designs to notebooks. The iPhone and iPod touch are included in the list despite being handhelds, as a result of scaling down Mac OS X.

Apple is also noted to have made considerable mistakes though, such as the Macintosh IIvi and IIvx, which were actually slower than a Mac released three years earlier. The Power Macintosh 4400 is described as being cheap, loud and unstable, while Apple price excesses may have peaked with the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, which was initially priced at $5,500 more than the similarly-equipped Power Macintosh 5500. Other derided Mac products include the Pippin, the Macintosh TV and the infamous "hockey puck" mouse for the original iMac.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Cheers to a quarter-century of escorting all of us into the digital and computing age.

  1. Tofino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    aaaah yes...

    the twentieth anniversary macintosh... sure it was hopelessly overpriced, but it is a thing of beauty...

    i bought two when steve decreed to dump them on the new online apple store after his return. at a thousand bucks each, they were the best bargain i ever found online.

    granted, i use mine mostly to watch tv and listen to music (best sounding macs ever - thanks bose!), but if it's good enough for batman, it's good enough for me...

  1. ADeweyan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Don't mistake the TAM

    I'm tired of the abuse the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh has been taking in these "Best & Worst" lists. Sure this thing was incredibly over-priced, but it was intended as an exclusive luxury item. That $9,000 original price tag included someone from Apple flying out and installing the thing for you. It was never meant to be a commodity, consumer computer.

    The TAM was meant as an exclusive, elegant design experiment -- and I would argue that it still has a presence and elegance that has yet to be matched.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The TAM

    The problem isn't that it cost $9000 (which is way overpriced), its that apple tried to make a luxury item out of what, by that point, was basically a commodity item.

    If it was supposed to be a 'luxury' item, they never would have slashed the price to dump stock. You don't see Rolls Royce or Porsche slashing their car prices by 80% to make sales.

    That $9,000 original price tag included someone from Apple flying out and installing the thing for you.

    Um, its a Mac, dude, not a Cray supercomputer. You could send over a 6-year old and he could set it up for you.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the best and worst

    The "best" list is extremely lacking in history. It lists two items from the first 15 years, then starts throwing in things from the last ten.

    And the guy boasts the MacBook Air as being great (wow, it lacks all the features you expect in a computer, but its made from a single piece of aluminum!), yet leaves off such great macs as the SE/30 (considered the BEST mac of the 80s), the LaserWriter (sure, not a Mac, but it basically saved the Macintosh from extinction), or what about the G3 all-in-one? And to ignore the 7100, the original PowerMac mid-range model.

    As for the worst, how does the article not mention the Performa series, which brought the beauty of the 630, 631, 632, 633, etc, etc, etc. But they mention the Pippin, when they could have mentioned the original Apple Portable/Luggable? Or the exploding Powerbook 5300s (OK, they didn't explode, but you'd be hard-pressed to find many who say they were anything but lemons). And then there was the Apple III.

  1. gkroeger

    Joined: Dec 1969


    some of the bests

    I agree with testudo that the best list was very myopic. The SE30 and Quadra 700 were absolute gems. I still have two of each operating with System7 and they remain rock solid... the SE30 is getting ready to celebrate its 20th birthday this spring.

  1. shawnde

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: the best and worst

    Yeah, I agree with Testudo. In fact, the IIci, was probably the most popular Mac for most of late 80's and early 90's. There were numerous upgrade cards from DayStar to keep those IIci's in the market. They were great machines. The Quardra 700 was a IIci on its side with a new CPU. The formula was the same. Other popular choices were the Quarda 840av, which was a really well-rounded tower, and the PowerMac 9600.

    Also, they say the TAM was a failure, when in fact, for it's intended market and purpose, it probably did ok. The price was wacky, but they did sell them. And I don't think the Cube was a success.

    Their list is really messed up. They need some savvy mac historians to set them straight. By the way, I LOVED the SE/30.

  1. JackWebb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Best and worst

    I take bang for the buck into account.

    Best: The IIci long-lasting upgradeable workhorse. The LC for being an affordable trimmed-down Mac II that started to bring some sales volume. The 6100 for great sound card, affordable and upgradeable. The Blue & White G3, again affordable, fast graphics to play playstation games in emulation. The G4 Mac Mini which had a discrete graphics card and affordable small and nearly silent!

    Worst: The IIvi and IIvx for poor value. Anything 52xx - 73xx. The flower power iMac and the orange purse iBook are embarrassing.

  1. Durandalus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    hockey puck mouse

    I actually liked it. Once you started using it with your fingers instead of your entire hand it was very comfortable and precise. Which doesn't mean I ever used one as my primary mouse ;-)

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Happy birthday!

    Thank you mac for giving me a way out of wintel h***.


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