Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh
Apple Museum (Prague) 20th Anniversary Mac (1997).jpg
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh
Also known as"Pomona", "Smoke & Mirrors", "Spartacus"[1]
DeveloperApple Computer
Release dateMarch 20, 1997; 25 years ago (1997-03-20)
Introductory priceUS$7499 (equivalent to US$12,700 in 2021)
DiscontinuedMarch 14, 1998 (1998-03-14)
Operating systemMac OS 7.6.1 (initial OS) – Mac OS 9.1 (final OS)
CPU250 MHz PowerPC 603ev
L2 Cache: 256 KiB, max 1 MiB
Bus: 50 MHz
MemoryRAM: 2 slots
32 MiB, max 128 MiB (2 × 64 MB)
(Memory Spec: 168-pin, 5 V,
60+ ns EDO or FPM DIMMs)
VRAM: 2 MB
StorageHard Drive: 2 GB IDE
Floppy Drive: Apple SuperDrive
Display12.1" Active Matrix
Graphics800×600 or 640×480 @ up to 16-bits
ATI 3D RAGE 2 chip set
InputRear Ports: Variable Level Sound In
Sound Out
DB-25 SCSI
TV Tuner
FM Tuner
Rear Side Ports:
1 ADB
2 DIN-8 GeoPorts
DB-25 SCSI
S-Video In
Sound Line In
Via Expansion Slots:
1 Comm Slot 2
PCI Slot
Optical Drive: 4× CD-ROM
DimensionsHeight: 17.5 inches (44 cm)
Width: 16.5 inches (42 cm)
Depth: 10 inches (25 cm)
Mass14.9 pounds (6.8 kg)
PredecessorPower Macintosh 5500
SuccessorPower Macintosh G3 All-In-One

The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (or "TAM") is a limited-edition personal computer released in 1997 to mark Apple's 20th birthday. The machine was a technological showcase of the day, boasting a number of features beyond simple computing, and with a price tag aimed at the "executive" market.[2]

History

April 1, 1996, marked 20 years since the day that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne came together to form Apple Computer. As this milestone arrived and came to the attention of Apple's then-current executives, the decision was made to release a limited edition Macintosh computer to celebrate—and so the "Spartacus" (or "Pomona", or "Smoke & Mirrors") project was born.

The normal time-span to develop a new Macintosh computer was 18+ months, although available time was less. However, the design team had already been working on several "dream" concepts, and soon settled on the most feasible of those: the (almost) "All-in-One" LCD-based design. To reduce development time, many off-the-shelf components were used on the new computer's internals.

The TAM was announced almost 20 years to the day after Jobs and Wozniak incorporated the company, in January 1997 at MacWorld Expo, San Francisco. It was given a release date of March 20, 1997,[3] with a retail price of £5,545 or €6,637. Originally intended as a mainstream product, the marketing group turned it into a pricey special edition.[4]

Upon its unveiling, the TAM was predicted to cost US$9,000, which would include a direct-to-door concierge delivery service. At release the price was reduced to US$7,499. In the middle of the machine's sales lifespan Apple dropped the price further to around US$3,500, and finally upon discontinuation in March 1998 the price was set to US$1,995.[5] Customers who paid full price for the TAM, and then complained to Apple when the price was so drastically cut, were offered a free high-end PowerBook as compensation.[6]

Specifications and design

The TAM featured a 250 MHz PowerPC 603ev processor and 12.1" active matrix LCD powered by an ATI 3D Rage II video chipset with 2 MB of VRAM capable of displaying up to 16-bit color at either 800x600 or 640x480 pixels. It had a vertically mounted 4x SCSI CD-ROM and an Apple floppy SuperDrive, a 2 GB ATA hard drive, a TV/FM tuner, an S-Video input card, and a custom-made Bose sound system[7] including two "Jewel" speakers and a subwoofer built into the externally located power supply "base unit".

A thick "umbilical" cable connects the base unit to the head unit, supplying both power, and communications for the subwoofer. The umbilical connects via a multi-pin connector, which is a possible cause of the TAM's one major fault: the "speaker buzz". Inspections of units that received a repair by Apple due to the speaker buzz found one or more extra resistors had been installed in the umbilical. Ensuring the connectors are free of dust/dirt has also been known to resolve the "buzz", though the buzz ultimately only affected a small percentage of machines. An Apple Engineer noted[8] that the thick umbilical was intended to power a higher end CPU, however that option was ultimately curtailed, though the diameter of the umbilical remained.

The TAM came with a unique 75 key ADB keyboard which featured leather palm-rests and a trackpad instead of a mouse. The trackpad could be detached from the keyboard if desired, with a small leather insert found underneath the keyboard ready to fill the gap. When not required, the keyboard could slide under the TAM's head unit, leaving the trackpad exposed for continued access. The TAM also came with a remote control (standard with the Apple TV/FM Tuner card), but also featured buttons on the front panel that could control sound levels, CD playback, brightness, contrast, and TV mode. The pre-installed operating system was a specialized version of Mac OS 7.6.1, which allowed control over those features. It is the last Macintosh model able to boot and run System 7 natively.

Expandability was offered via a 7-inch PCI slot and Apple Communication slot II for the addition of Ethernet. Later G3 upgrade options offered by Sonnet and NewerTechnologies made use of the TAM's Level II Cache slot, which allow the computer to reach speeds of up to 500 MHz. All of these options come at the price of the TAM's slim profile. The back panel must be removed, and replaced with an (included) "hunchback" cover that adds several inches to the depth of the machine.

The TAM featured a unique startup chime, which is not used on any other Macintosh models. This chime can also be heard on Mactracker, a freeware application for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS that provides a detailed database of current and historic Apple products.

Production and release

The TAM was only released in the USA, Japan, France, Germany, and the UK.

Both of Apple's founders, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, received a TAM. When "Woz" allowed people to see into his office via webcam in the late 1990s, his TAM was visible on his desk.

Due to the scarcity of scale, rather than training all Apple authorized technicians in repairing the TAM, Apple opted to ship faulty units to three central locations worldwide: one per continent. The US location was the Eastman Kodak Company's service center in Rochester, New York. Apple's Service Source CD, containing information for authorized technicians in the repair of Apple computers, lists the TAM as a "closed unit", to be returned to said repair locations for all repairs. It does not contain a "take apart" guide for the TAM.

Websites

Rather than a simple page on Apple's website, the TAM was given its own website, albeit one of only six brief pages.[9] This was a departure from Apple's standard advertising practice for its other Macintosh computers of the time. The website was shut down by Apple in 1999 and redirected to the main Apple website.

Not long after the TAM's release, a community website was created by Bob Bernardara, a TAM owner in the U.S.[10] He created the site for TAM owners and it featured news and information about the TAM, along with links to useful software and a forum for discussions. Apple had an active link to the site shortly before the last TAM rolled was made.

Welcome to The 20th Anniversary Macintosh Web Site—the "Official" home of the TAM user community. This is the place where 20th Anniversary Macintosh owners can share a wealth of information on this "insanely great" product. The TAM (Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh) is a unique machine in the world of computers and this site will help you get the most out of yours.

The TAM site actively ran for several years and it eventually had to shut down when Bernardara could not contact Axon, the Australian hosting company who hosted the site, to make critical updates.

A number of newer TAM community websites have appeared over the years.

Discontinuation

Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997. In March 1998 he made sweeping changes, including scrapping the Newton MessagePad. It was at this time that the TAM was discontinued, and remaining stocks reduced to US$1,995. The timing itself was not conspicuous, most Apple computers only feature a 1-year production run, and the TAMs began in March 1997. However Jobs stated that he hated the TAM.[11] Dealers in the US ran out of stock within 14 days of the final price drop.

Reception

The TAM was criticized for being too pricey compared to other computers. PC World placed the TAM as 25th in their "Worst Tech Products of All Time" feature in 2006, citing it as one of the priciest listed personal computer with played-out specs.[12]

Furthermore, Steve Jobs himself has also stated in 1997 that he hated the TAM.[13]

Legacy

While the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh may not have been a well-known machine for its time, nor a big seller, it did have a lasting influence on personal computers. Jony Ive refined the original concept of the TAM. He then became director of the Industrial Design Group,[14] in charge of designing later computers. Like the TAM, Apple's modern iMac, starting with the G5 model, uses a vertically mounted removable drive (i.e. SuperDrive) behind the screen.[15] Even the removable trackpad has been replicated with Apple's Magic Trackpad.

External power supplies were also used in later Apple computers such as the Power Mac G4 Cube and Mac Mini. Joint efforts with speaker manufacturers (originally Bose but later Harman Kardon) have become common for several Apple computers.[6]

In popular culture

Due to its unconventional design, the TAM has featured in numerous films and television series, including:

References

  1. ^ Linzmayer, Owen W. (2004). Apple Confidential 2.0. No Starch Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-59327-010-0.
  2. ^ Myslewski, Rik (January 24, 2009). "25 years of Mac - the good, the bad, and the cheese grater". The Register. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  3. ^ "20th Anniversary Macintosh". Apple-History.com. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
  4. ^ Kahney, Leander (2013). Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products. USA: Portfolio Hardcover. ISBN 9781591846178.
  5. ^ Linzmayer (2004), p. 266.
  6. ^ a b "Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh › Mac History". April 10, 2017. Archived from the original on April 5, 2022. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  7. ^ "Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh: Technical Specifications". support.apple.com. July 26, 2017. Archived from the original on March 25, 2021. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  8. ^ "TAM Community". Archived from the original on April 21, 2000.
  9. ^ "Showing Now: Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh Unmasked". twentiethanniversary.apple.com. Archived from the original on April 28, 1998.
  10. ^ "Welcome to The 20th Anniversary Macintosh Web Site". tam.axon.net. Archived from the original on January 25, 1999.
  11. ^ Martin, Mel (March 20, 2009). "Remembering the TAM". engadget. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  12. ^ Tynan, Dan (May 26, 2006). "The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time". PC World. Archived from the original on April 20, 2021. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  13. ^ Martin, Mel (March 20, 2009). "Remembering the TAM". engadget. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  14. ^ Linzmayer (2004), p. 295.
  15. ^ Linzmayer (2004), p. 301.
  16. ^ Kahney, Leander (2006). The Cult of Mac. No Starch Press. p. 70. ISBN 1-59327-122-0.
  17. ^ "The Real Truth behind MTV's 1998 series The Real World - Seattle". realworldhouses.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  18. ^ "Apple Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh". Starring the Computer. Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2010.