Apple released the 20th Anniversary Macintosh in May 1997 to mark the 20th anniversary of Apple Inc., not the Macintosh. The system was built to look state of the art, but used common components and technologies readily available at that time, and suffered from being overpriced and under-powered.
While conceived as a production futuristic concept model the TAM, as it was affectionately called by many of its owners, was built using the 12�? active matrix LCD display, ATI 3D Rage II video chipset, and trackpad from the PowerBook 3400, and the motherboard from the Power Macintosh 6500 with a 250Mhz 603eprocessor. The system could only handle a video resolution of 800x600 with a 16-bit color depth and shipped with Mac OS 7.6.1. It later required a special version of Mac OS 8, and is incompatible with any operating release after Mac OS 9.1.
The use of the Power Mac 6500’s motherboard did give the TAM some capabilities that were unusual for the day. A TV tuner, or TV/FM tuner card were available for the 62xx and later 6x00 series of Performa and PowerMac. Use of either of these cards, or any other 7�? PCI card, required the user to swap out the back of the TAMs case with an alternate version that allowed space for the cards.
In order for the system to give the perception that it was more advanced than it was, the power supply was external of the computer. This, when combined with the flat panel display and the vertically mounted 4x CD-ROM drive, gave the system a much smaller footprint. The power supply was part of the subwoofermanufactured by Bose, which would be kept out of site.
The small keyboard didn’t feature a numeric keyboard but did have a built-in touchpad and leather palm rests. The touchpad could be removed from the keyboard and placed at a more convenient location on the user workspace.
The system was initially marketed as an elite system, and featured a concierge service for personalised delivery and setup. This service was quickly discontinued as sales failed to materialise. Apple soon started lowering the price of their highline product, in a somewhat embarrassing move that only echoed other problems the company was having at the time. While Apple had built 12,000 of the systems, sales were slow throughout the life of the system. The remaining inventory of TAMs was sold at a loss through Apple’s developer price list.
Despite its poor sales, the TAM remains a popular collectors items among some dedicated Macintosh collectors. There was even a line of processor upgrades for the systems which helped lengthen its useful lifespan.
Sources and References
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- Macintosh II