July 18, 2012, 2:20 PM — Ten years ago, Apple introduced the flat-panel iMac G4, a groundbreaking consumer PC that wowed the computer industry and proved that Apple could not only meet, but exceed design innovations that had given the firm a new breath of life just four years prior.
With its innovative form factor, advanced operating system, and a then-unparalleled suite of integrated software, the iMac G4 led a new generation of consumer-grade Apple desktops that brought continued financial security to Apple during a time of transitionjust as its iPod line began to heat up.
At launch in January 2002, the iMac G4 came in three flavors: a low-end model for $1299 that included a 700MHz G4 PowerPC processor, 128MB RAM, a 40GB hard drive, and a CD-RW drive; a mid-range model for $1499 that upped the RAM to 256 MB and included a CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo Drive; and a high-end model for $1799 that included an 800MHz G4 porcessor, 256MB RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a CD-RW/DVD-R Super Drive.
The two top models also shipped with external Pro Speakers, and all models included a white keyboard and one-button optical Pro Mouse. Each model shipped with Mac OS X 10.1 and OS 9 included on the internal hard disk.
But mere specs alone cant convey what a marvel of a creation the iMac G4 was at the time of its release. Lets take a look at seven reasons why the iMac G4 was an important addition to Apples legacy.
A marvel of design and engineering
When the iMac G4 first rose up out of the stage during Steve Jobs 2002 Macworld Keynote, one design element stood out above all others: a thin flat panel display floating upon a cantilevered, fully poseable metal arm. This arm represented both strength and grace in designit was strong enough that Apple encouraged customers to use it as a handle to lift the 21-pound machine, yet precise enough to maintain the display at a position parallel to its original angle whether you swung the arm up or down, left or right.
The press reacted with hearty praise for the new poseable display feature, which immediately gave the iMac G4 a unique sales angle that no competitor could match. Amusingly, a few members of the press also reacted with puzzlement: some thought the protruding display might throw the machine off-balance, making it easy to tip over. Of course, Apple had designed the base to be heavy enough to prevent just such an embarrassing occurrence.