Apple History: The Evolution of the Apple All-In-One

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Steve Jobs is a big believer in the All-In-One solution for computers. Apple has almost always had an All-In-One of some sort on the market since the very first model, the Lisa, hit the shelves in 1983. Below, you can see the evolution of this design from the Lisa all the way to the current iMac.

To a lot of people, the All-In-One is the future of computing, but to Apple – it’s been a part of the family for almost 25 years.

1983 – Lisa


The Lisa was the first computer to introduce the world to the GUI. It will forever have a place in computer history for that – but it was not a success. The high price of the device (around $10,000) kept it out of reach for most businesses and consumers…when the Mac was released the following year, it sealed Lisa’s fate – but she will never been truly forgotten.

1984 – Macintosh


The Macintosh was the first compact All-In-One solution, and the first affordable computer to introduce the GUI to consumers. Unlike the insanely expensive Lisa, the Macintosh was price around $2,500 – putting it within the reach of businesses and consumers.

1986 – Macintosh Plus


The Macintosh Plus featured a slightly sleeker design, and the now famous Apple “platinum” (i.e. white) coloring. This Macintosh was much more expandable than the original model, and nice run, ceasing production in 1990.

1987 – Macintosh SE


Released at the same time as The Macintosh II, it’s non All-In-One cousin, the Macintosh SE further increased the ability to expand your Mac.

1989 – Macintosh SE/30


The SE released in 1989 was the first Macintosh to come with a FDHD 1.4 MB floppy drive standard, and support more than 4 Megs of RAMM. It was discontinued in 1990.

Thanks to Richard for pointing out this omission.

1990 – Macintosh Classic


Essentially a re-issued Macintosh Plus, the first Macintosh Classic was slow and problematic. A second version in a slightly redesigned case was released in 1991.

1993 – Macintosh Color Classic


This version of the Macintosh Classic was almost identical to the Classic II, except for the color screen, redesigned case, and slightly larger ROM.

1993 – Macintosh LC 500 Series


The Macintosh LC 520 was the first of the 500 series, and was Apple’s first attempt at making an All-In-One solution for the 90s. The model proved to a very popular for home users, featured a completely new All-In-One design.

1993 – Macintosh TV


The third All-in-One release of 1993 – the Macintosh TV not only served as a computer, but it also included both a TV Tuner card and a CD-Rom drive. There were only 10,000 of these units made.

1995 – Macintosh 5200 LC


A continuation of the LC line, this Macintosh was the first to feature a PowerPC chip. The All-In-One design was slightly modified from the LC 500 series.

1997 – 20th Anniversary Macintosh


This machine was another extremely expensive addition to the All-In-One legacy. The 20th Anniversary Mac cost $10,000…but for that $10k you not only received an amazing machine with a BOSE sound system and unique design – the Mac was also delivered to your house by a man in a tuxedo, who would then set the system up for you. Seriously.

This mac also recently mad an appearance in the film “Children of Men”.

1998 – Power Macintosh G3 All-in-one


Probably one of the rarest of all Macs, this Power Macintosh G3 All-in-one had a life span of only 6 months, and was available only in the education market. It was discontinued after the release of the iMac.

1998 – iMac


The rebirth of Apple began with the release of this “re-imagining” of the original Mac in 1998. Focused on the Internet, and designed in a stylish and completely different way than any Mac that had come before it – this produce was a turning point in Apple’s history.

2002 – iMac G4


In 2002 the iMac was completely redesigned. This new version was a marvel of design, and the first All-in-One with a flat panel display.

2002 – eMac


Designed for the education market, the eMac kept the power of the G4 iMac in the same familiar All-In-One design of the previous generation of iMacs. The eMac would later be made available to non-education buyers as well.

2004 – iMac G5


In 2004 the makers of the iPod decided to build a computer that looked it like was from the designers of the popular music player. The result was the iMac G5. It’s slick all in one design was remarkably thin, very popular. As Apple transitioned to Intel chips, a new Intel version of this iMac was released in 2006.

2007 – 4th Generation iMac


If the iMac G5 was the computer built by the designers of the iPod, the 4th Generation iMac is definitely the computer built by the designers of the iPhone. This new iMac features and aluminum casing and glass surface.

From the Lisa to the current iMac, it has been a long road for Apple with many ups and downs…but one thing is for sure – there will be more All-In-One computer solutions from Apple in the future…and they will be beautifully designed, and an interesting relfection on the times they are created in.

images via Apple History

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Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

9 thoughts on “Apple History: The Evolution of the Apple All-In-One

  1. Another great trip through nostalgia.. I actually got my hands on a used Lisa as a kid and got rid of it because I had no place to put it in my room. OY! This pains me to this day…

  2. I miss the 2002 iMac. Would be really great if they can introduce this form factor again. It was brilliant, you were able to adjust the height and angle of the display so easily. A nice touch would have been an iPhone like accelerometer, allowing you to look at pages and movies in an equally impressive way.

  3. does anyone have any idea of the value of the 1990 Mac Classic? i also have a circa 1992 compatible laptop and external hard drive, all the software, case, etc. i need to sell soon and want to understand the worth. thanks! :’)

  4. Beth, I would say those machines are worth $nostalgia only. The Mac Classic was a solid if underpowered machine for 1990. Today nobody except a collector would want it. I still have my Mac Classic, but only because it was my first Mac and I like looking at it sometimes. But if I ever want to actually run that old software, which is rare, I use Mini vMac on my MacBook Pro.

    As to the article, it’s too bad nobody proofread or even spellchecked it (RAMM => RAM, CD-Rom => CD-ROM, 1.4MB => 1.44MB, it’s => its, relfection => reflection). It has inaccurate information (the Classic was a re-issue of the SE, not the Plus). It needlessly berates good products (the Classic) and fails to berate awful ones (the Mac TV, the Twentieth Anniversary Mac). And it has an inaccurate photo (the Classic II cannot run the OS shown on its screen — the Classic II requires System 7 but the OS shown is pre-System 6 as evidenced by the black shutter on the floppy disk icon; CRT monitors also have rather large black borders on all sides; the image does not go to the edges of the screen).

  5. I have a 96 imac with the keyboard. I have alot of wildlife and outdoor pictures on it. Have a 2009 macbook. I need advice as to how to transfer my pictures from old to newer macbook. Dont need anything else. Just pictures. Thanks

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