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Macintosh LC
A Macintosh LC with hardware.
Also known as"Elsie"
DeveloperApple Computer, Inc.
Product familyMacintosh LC
Release dateOctober 15, 1990 (1990-10-15)
Introductory priceUS$2,499 (equivalent to $5,828 in 2023)
DiscontinuedMarch 23, 1992 (1992-03-23)
Operating systemSystem 6.0.6 - 7.5.5
CPUMotorola 68020 @ 16 MHz
Memory2 MB, expandable to 10 MB (100ns 30-pin SIMM)
DimensionsHeight: 2.9 inches (7.4 cm)
Width: 12.2 inches (31 cm)
Depth: 15.3 inches (39 cm)
Mass8.8 pounds (4.0 kg)
SuccessorMacintosh LC II

The Macintosh LC is a personal computer designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from October 1990 to March 1992.


The first in the Macintosh LC family, the LC was introduced with the Macintosh Classic (a repackaging of the older Macintosh SE) and the Macintosh IIsi (a new entry-level machine for the Macintosh II series), and offered for half the price of the Macintosh II but significantly lesser in performance overall.[1] The creation of the LC was prompted by Apple's desire to produce a product that could be sold to school boards for the same price as an Apple IIGS. It was designed for inexpensive manufacturing, with five major components that robots could assemble. The computer had a $2,400 list price; it and the new $600 12-inch color display were $3,500 less expensive than the Macintosh II.[2] Not long after the Apple IIe Card was introduced for the LC, Apple quietly removed the IIGS from its price list, forceably retiring it, as the company wanted to focus its sales and marketing efforts on the LC.[3]

The original Macintosh LC was introduced in October 1990, with initial shipments to dealers following in December and January.[4] It was replaced by Macintosh LC II, which was largely the same but was built around a Motorola 68030 processor.


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Internal view of a Macintosh LC.

The LC uses a "pizza box" case with a Processor Direct Slot (PDS) but no NuBus slots. It has a 16 MHz Motorola 68020 microprocessor which lacks a floating-point coprocessor (although one could be added via the PDS). The LC has a 16-bit data bus, which is a major performance bottleneck as the 68020 is a 32-bit CPU. The LC's memory management chipset places a limit of 10 MB RAM no matter how much was installed.

The LC shipped with 256 kB of VRAM, supporting a display resolution of 512×384 pixels at 8-bit color. The VRAM is upgradeable to 512 kB, supporting a display resolution of 512×384 pixels at 16-bit color or 640×480 pixels at 8-bit color. The LC was commonly purchased with an Apple 12" RGB monitor which had a fixed resolution of 512×384 pixels and a form factor exactly matching the width of the LC chassis, giving the two together a near all-in-one appearance. An Apple 13" 640×480 Trinitron display was also available, but at a list price of $999, it cost around half as much as the LC itself.[5] Until the introduction of the LC, the lowest resolution supported on color Macs had been 640×480. Many programs written for color Macintosh II family computers had assumed this as a minimum, and some were unusable at the lower resolution. For several years software developers had to add support for this smaller screen resolution in order to guarantee that their software would run on LCs (as well as Color Classics, introduced 2½ years later, which use the same resolution).

Overall, general performance of the machine was disappointing due to the crippling data bus bottleneck, making it run far slower than the 16 MHz 68020-based Macintosh II from 1987, which had an identical processor but ran almost twice as fast. One difference between the Mac II and the Mac LC is the latter had no socket for a 68851 MMU. Therefore, it could not take advantage of System 7's virtual memory features.

The standard configuration included a floppy drive and a 40 MB or 80 MB hard drive, but a version was available for the education market which had an Apple II card in the PDS slot, two floppy drives, and no hard drive. The LC was the final Macintosh model to allow for dual internal floppy drives. The LC, as with other Macs of the day, featured built-in networking on the serial port using LocalTalk. Ethernet was also available as an option via the single PDS slot. If the single expansion slot was a limitation, multifunction cards were available combining Ethernet functionality with an MMU or FPU socket.

Apple IIe Card

Main article: Apple IIe Card

The Apple IIe Card for the PDS slot was offered in a bundle with education models of the LCs. The card allowed the LC to emulate an Apple IIe. The combination of a low-cost color Macintosh with Apple IIe compatibility was intended to encourage the education market to transition from aging Apple II models to the Macintosh platform instead of to the new low-cost IBM PC compatibles. Despite the LC's minimal video specs with a 12" monitor, any LC that supports the card can be switched into 560×384 resolution for better compatibility with the IIe's 280×192 High-Resolution graphics (essentially doubled) and 560x192 Double-High-Resolution graphics (doubled only vertically).


Computer Gaming World in 1990 criticized the LC as too expensive, stating that consumers would prefer a $2,000 IBM PS/1 with VGA graphics to a $3,000 LC with color monitor.[6] Although the Classic was more popular at first, by May 1992 the LC (560,000 sold) was outselling the Classic (1.2 million). More than half of LCs were used in homes and schools; Apple claimed that it helped the company regain educational market share lost to inexpensive PC clones, with the IIe Card used in about half of schools' LCs.[7]


Introduced October 15, 1990:


Timeline of Macintosh Centris, LC, Performa, and Quadra models, colored by CPU type
Macintosh Performa 6214Macintosh Performa 6210Macintosh Performa 6205Macintosh Performa 6230Macintosh Performa 6220Macintosh Quadra 840AVMacintosh Quadra 650Macintosh Quadra 610Macintosh Quadra 605Macintosh Quadra 660AVMacintosh Quadra 800Macintosh Centris 650Macintosh Centris 610Macintosh Quadra 950Macintosh Quadra 630Macintosh Quadra 900Macintosh Quadra 700Macintosh Performa 6420Macintosh Performa 6410Macintosh Performa 5440Macintosh Performa 5430Macintosh Performa 5280Macintosh Performa 6360Macintosh Performa 5260Macintosh Performa 6400Macintosh Performa 6400Macintosh Performa 5400Macintosh Performa 5400Macintosh Performa 6260Macintosh Performa 5400Macintosh Performa 5420Macintosh Performa 5410Macintosh Performa 5270Macintosh Performa 5260Macintosh Performa 6320Macintosh Performa 6310Macintosh Performa 6300Macintosh Performa 6290Macintosh Performa 5320Macintosh Performa 5300Macintosh Performa 6218Macintosh Performa 6216Macintosh Performa 6200Macintosh Performa 6116Macintosh Performa 5220Macintosh Performa 5215Macintosh Performa 5210Macintosh Performa 5200Macintosh Performa 640CDMacintosh Performa 580CDMacintosh Performa 588CDMacintosh Performa 638Macintosh Performa 637Macintosh Performa 636Macintosh Performa 635Macintosh Performa 631Macintosh Performa 630Macintosh Performa 578Macintosh Performa 577Macintosh Performa 575Macintosh Performa 476Macintosh Performa 475Macintosh Performa 560Macintosh Performa 550Macintosh Performa 275Macintosh Performa 6118Macintosh Performa 6117Macintosh Performa 6115Macintosh Performa 6112Macintosh Performa 6110Macintosh Performa 467Macintosh Performa 466Macintosh Performa 460Macintosh Performa 410Macintosh Performa 520Macintosh Performa 450Macintosh Performa 430Macintosh Performa 405Macintosh Performa 250Macintosh Performa 600Macintosh Performa 400Macintosh Performa 200Power Macintosh 5300 LCMacintosh LC 575Macintosh TVMacintosh LC IIIMacintosh LC 550Macintosh LC 580Macintosh LC 520Macintosh LC 630Macintosh LC 475Power Macintosh 5200 LCMacintosh LC IIIMacintosh LC IIMacintosh LC


  1. ^ Poole, Lon (December 1990). "The Macintosh Family Evolves". Macworld. Vol. 7, no. 12. pp. 168–175.
  2. ^ Spencer, Cheryl (December 1990). "Mac LC - What's been missing from the Macintosh line? The reasonably priced Macintosh LC with 16-bit color and Apple II emulation abilities". Macworld. Vol. 7, no. 12. pp. 180–187.
  3. ^ Weyhrich, Steven (26 June 2010). "The Apple IIGS - The Beginning of the End". Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  4. ^ "MacBulletin - Some Macintosh LCs May Ship Early to Dealers". Macworld. Vol. 7, no. 12. December 1990. p. 17.
  5. ^ "Bite Of Apple - NY Times News Service November 25, 1990". Archived from the original on 2013-11-01. Apple also introduced a new color monitor recently, the 12-inch RGB Display. At $599, the new color monitor is $400 less expensive than Apple's slightly larger 13-inch color display.
  6. ^ "Fusion, Transfusion or Confusion / Future Directions In Computer Entertainment". Computer Gaming World. December 1990. p. 26. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  7. ^ Heid, Jim (May 1992). "More for Less: An Updated LC and LaserWriter Duo". Macworld. p. 136.
  8. ^ "Macintosh LC: Technical Specifications". Apple. Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2017-12-24.