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Welcome, iMac!

Steve Jobs today announced what is in many ways the first interesting new Macintosh in quite some time, the consumer- and Internet-oriented iMac. What’s fascinating about the iMac is its combination of serious specs, low price, and a unique translucent industrial design. The iMac features a 233 MHz PowerPC G3 processor with a 66 MHz bus, 512K of backside level 2 cache, 32 MB RAM (expandable to 128 MB), 4 GB IDE hard disk, 24x CD-ROM, built-in 15-inch monitor capable of 1024 x 768 pixels of resolution, built-in 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, built-in 33.6 Kbps modem, two 12 Mbps Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, 4 Mbps infrared port (IrDA), built-in stereo speakers, Apple USB keyboard, and an Apple USB mouse. Not mentioned were a floppy drive, SCSI port, LocalTalk port, ADB port, or PCI slots. The price is slated to be $1,299 when the iMac ships in August. Bundled software includes at least Mac OS 8.1, Quicken 98 Deluxe, ClarisWorks (renamed AppleWorks), FileMaker Pro, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4, although Jobs indicated that more might be added.

We’ve seen too few interesting industrial designs in the past few years, though the 20th Anniversary Mac was a breath of fresh air in that regard. The new iMac looks different from any other machine, and appears to presage a new attitude from Apple toward the price and image conscious consumer market. It’s cheap, it’s neat, and it’s designed to connect to the Internet from the very start. We reserve the right to change our minds once we see one, but the iMac currently looks like a winner. You can sign up for notification of additional information at the iMac page in the Apple Store.

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