On the 14th of September, 1992 Apple Computer introduced a new family of Macintosh computers targeting the consumer marketplace. Initially available only in the U.S., the new series of computers were “designed to reach first-time buyers and new users in the home, offering specific solutions for families with school-age children”. Every Macintosh Performa included “enhanced system software, pre-loaded applications [such as ClarisWorks], one year of service and support”, and were to be “distributed in nearly 2,000 consumer retail outlets nationwide”. It was a bold but ultimately unsuccesful move to expand market share by offering an affordable entry into the Macintosh world, rebranding older and low power systems with a new name. The Performas were based on preexisting Macintoshes, although not all of them were exact copies and some even had their own code names.
The initial 1992 Performa family consisted of three models: the Macintosh Performa 200, Macintosh Performa 400 and the Macintosh Performa 600/600 CD. All of them were shipped installed with an optimized version of System 7 called System 7.1P, “designed to make using the Macintosh even easier for first-time computer buyers”.
The Performa 200, code named “Lady Kenmore”, was basically a Macintosh Classic II, released one year after the original and bundled with a 2400/9600 baud fax/modem and extra software. It was discontinued in April 1993, one month after Apple introduced its successor, the Performa 250, which was based on the Macintosh Color Classic.
The Performa 400 was a lowly Macintosh LC II, originally released six months before, in March. Bundled with several different hard drives and software, and rereleased in four variants as the Performa 400, 405, 410, and 430, it unfortunately had the same shortcomings of the LC II, i.e. the LC’s 16-bit data path, which crippled the speed of the relatively fast 16 MHz 68030 processor.
The Performas 600 and 600CD had the look and were based on the motherboard of the Macintosh IIvi but were released a bit later in the consumer market, and sported the IIvx’s 68030 32 MHz processor. The Performa 600 CD were among the first Macintoshes with an internal CD-ROM drive which could read data, play audio discs and also supported Kodak’s Photo CD technology.
The last batch of Performas was introduced in 1996 and discontinued during 1997 and early 1998. Among the last ones was also the first and only original model ever released, the Performa 6400, which had a new tower case design. It was Apple’s first consumer-aimed mid-range computer and had optional A/V capabilities: its innards were also used for the Performa 6360.
The Performa 200 picture is © Maja Vervoort, which has kindly authorized the reproduction alongside this text.
In April 2002, Apple renewed its attention to the educational market with a new, exclusive Macintosh model. Building upon the success of the iMac, engineers and designers in Infinite Loop created the eMac, a new desktop all-in-one Macintosh with a 17-inch flat CRT monitor and a PowerPC G4 processor housed in a compact and curved white case.
The move followed Apple’s decision to radically change the look of the iMac, which in January 2002 not only abandoned the G3 CPU but acquired a flat panel screen perched on a white matte half-dome, with the effect of looking like a lamp (or a sunflower, according to Apple’s designer, Jonathan Ive). The previous iMac line was discontinued except for some lower spec models which were kept available until March 2003. (more…)
Ten years ago Apple introduced the original iPod.
Here is Steve Jobs’ presentation during the first Apple Music Event:
The promotional video that followed the announcement:
The first TV ad:
The interactive QuickTime VR movie:
All contents are “courtesy of Apple”.
The first three generations of the iPod shuffle are a good example of how Apple keeps evolving and reinventing its products and yet strives to maintain a sense of continuity to communicate that the core concept and identity is unchanged.
In the case of the iPod shuffle there is one element which has been painstakingly kept throughout all of the models: the use of the color green. It has been successfully associated by Apple with the act of shuffling, the random order (and reproduction) of the audio content by the player, and thus with the shuffle itself.
The original, first generation of the iPod shuffle, launched in January 2005, used this color extensively in its packaging and promotional material.
Green was the background of the TV commercial and print ads, green was the dominant color of the smallish box in which the iPod was sold and green was the color under the button which switched the iPod on and put it on continuous or in a shuffle play mode.
The second iPod shuffle generation, launched in September 2006, kept the green theme in many of the aspects such as packaging (although in a more subtle manner) and the switch controls. Apple even made a step further and chose green as one of the (many) colors in which the microscopic player, now in the form of a clip, was painted and made available to the public.
The third generation of the iPod shuffle, launched in March 2009, represented a bold choice by Apple.
The player was made ridiculously small and given a clean and minimal, almost aseptic design, stripped even of the front controls, which were moved -in a controversial choice- to the earphones’ cable. But once again the color green was kept as a defining mark of the “shuffle” brand, used sparingly but effectively in two ways. One such use was -again- under the on/off switch, as in previous models, this time the only spot of color on an otherwise chromatically neutral device.
The other use is not on the device and can be seen on the Apple website, during the Guided Tour Video, which shows how to use the new controls on the earphones. To emphasize and make absolutely clear how how each single, multiple or prolonged click activates a function Apple chose to use animations. During each of those key moments there are circles, big green circles.
Introduced during the January 2004 Macworld keynote as “the world’s smallest portable music player to hold up to 1,000 CD-quality songs” the iPod mini was made available in the USA more than a month later, on the 20th of February.
In a February press release it was mentioned that there were “over 100,000 pre-orders” and Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Philip Schiller stated that the response to iPod mini has been off the charts” foreshadowing the impact that the model would have.
The extraordinary reception of the iPod mini surprised even Apple which originally planned the model to just go after the high-end flash-based devices.
Hence, at the end of March, another press release was issued, warning that worldwide availability was postponed to July, due to the “much stronger than expected demand in the U.S. far exceeding the total planned supply”. In the release Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Operations Tim Cook was quoted saying that
“The iPod mini adds further momentum to the iPod, which is already the leading digital music player in the world.”
If we take a look at statistics by early 2004, Apple knew it had a hit with the iPod: in less than three years, the device had captured 31% of the U.S. market for mp3 players. Thanks to the release of the iPod mini Apple’s market share grew during 2004 and in January 2005 was at a staggering 65%.
As to which were the winning factors of the iPod mini making it the most successful iPod model ever the answer is simple and yet manifold. It was small in size and weight, extremely portable, designed with great care and with an eye to wearability.
It was also marketed as a must-have fashion item, not just encased in a stylish curved aluminium body but offered in five colors: silver, gold, pink, blue and green. In the following years Apple reproduced many of those characteristics in the second and fourth generation of the iPod nano which very much resembles a mini and in the second generation of the iPod shuffle.
The iPod mini and iPod nano pictures are “courtesy of Apple”