After the launch of the original iMac in 1998, no one knew that the Bondi blue machine represented only one entry in a long string of innovative, popular, and attention-getting products from Apple. Hints started to arrive with the blue and white Power Macintosh G3 in 1999 and the iBook the same year, but many critics asked: could Apple follow-up the iMac G3 with a product equally as revolutionary?
The iMac G4 provided the answer: yes. The new desktop proved that, amazingly, Apple could indeed improve upon a legendary design aesthetic that had influenced everything from toasters to paper towel dispensers.
With the launch of the flat-panel iMac G4, Steve Jobs declared, The CRT is officially dead. But the transition had already been underway: less than a year earlier, in May 2001, Apple had phased out its last modular CRT display, the 17-inch Apple Studio Display. By early 2002, the original iMac G3 remained the only CRT-bearing Mac left in Apples inventory.
Interestingly, Apple backpedaled a bit with the release of the eMac (also launched in 2002), which relied on a CRT monitor to keep costs down for educational customers. But after that, it was flat panels or nothing for Apple.
The G4 CPU
Prior to the flat panel iMac, the G4 processor had shipped in the Power Mac G4 (first introduced in 1999) pro desktop and the PowerBook G4 (2001) pro laptop. The iMac G4 brought G4 speed to the consumer desktop for the first time, albeit with some limitations: due to a slower system bus, the G4 in the iMac did not perform as well as G4s of the same clock speed in the Power Mac line. Still, the new iMac ran circles around the older G3 model, and it provided enough horsepower to run Apples suite of media-rich iApps.
The iMac G4 introduced DVD burning to the consumer level of Apples product lines for the first time (note that the earlier iMac DV line had allowed DVD reading, but not writing). The SuperDrive present on the high-end iMac G4 could burn both CDs and DVDs, a capability very novel in the industry at the time, especially on a consumer product.
When combined with iMovie and iDVD, the SuperDrive could produce professional quality DVDs at the lowest total package price ($1799) possible at the time.
People wanted to switch
Perhaps more than any other Mac up to that point in the Neo-Jobsian era, the iMac G4 lured people away from a world of Windows complacency and into the realm of seamless Mac integration. The iMac G4s bold design, new OS, and critically-acclaimed software suite offered perks that no Windows PC could then match.