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25 Years of Mac Love

I really am a Macintosh fanatic, a True Believer. And just a few days after Apple's 25th anniversary, I'm feeling incredibly nostalgic, like a lot of other cult members fans. In my case, a lot of the nostalgia has to do with unrequited hardware lust love.

In 1997, at the MacWorld Expo, Apple revealed the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, called TAM for short. The TAM was a desktop, with the sort of slim contour we're familiar with from the current iMac. It had an LCD screen, a leather-edged keyboard with a built in trackpad, a sound-system with a sub-woofer designed by Bose. The computer was the monitor, and at a mere 2.5 inches deep. It was beautiful, and a vision of the future. The specs at the time weren't all that fabulous (the raw numbers are pretty much like a PowerMac 5500, which, at the time, was around $2,000.00), but they were fine in my eyes:

The TAM specs include 250 MHz 603e processor, 12.1" active matrix LCD driven by an ATI 3D Rage II video card, with 2MB of VRAM, for 16 bit color at 800x600 or 640x480 pixels, a 4x vertically mounted SCSI CD-ROM, 2GB ATA hard drive, vertically mounted Apple Floppy SuperDrive, as well as a TV/FM tuner, S-Video card, and a custom-made Bose sound system, including 2 "Jewel" speakers and a subwoofer built into the externally located power supply "base unit". It came with a remote, and the front of the base has buttons for volume, audio CD playback, brightness, contrast, and TV mode. It came with Mac OS 7.1 and supports up to OS 9.1.

I saw the MacWorld coverage about the TAM at the time. And I fell in love, hard. Deeply the way only a geek can. This was the most beautiful piece of hardware I'd ever seen. And at release in March of 1997, the TAM cost a mere $7,499 U. S. By March 1998 the price was reduced to $1,995. Initial release buyers, outraged at the price drop, were soothed by the gift of very nice PowerBooks.

Needless to say, I didn't buy one. In fact I've never even seen one, or known anyone who has one; only about 12,000 TAMs were made. It was so clearly a futuristic design that it was featured in the film Batman & Robin, as well as in episodes of The Pretender, Seinfeld, and Sabrina. It's now an antique, of course, and hardly even remembered, other than as a terrible mistake on Apple's part. TAMs sometimes show up, in various states, on EBay; a while ago someone bought one that was never booted, still in the original box. There are TAM homage sites.

It's not like I've not moved on to newer boxes, you know? I went from my 180 PowerBook, to a Wallstreet, then a dual-USB 12 inch white iBook, to an aluminum G4. There have been other Macs; and there will be others in the future.

But I'm still in love.