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.
Although the eMac was much more powerful and substantially bulkier, due to the bigger screen, in the following years it revealed itself as a heir to the original iMac, even inheriting its place as the entry-level Mac, with an affordable 999 USD price tag.
Unfortunately, the eMac couldn’t just be bought by anyone: it was sold only to students and educational institutions (hence the prolonged availability of the iMac). But Apple quickly changed its mind: demand for the eMac proved so strong that the distribution was eventually expanded to the public at large and the computer was marketed as “the most affordable digital hub”.
The eMac was produced and sold for three years and a half, during which it was upgraded with faster CPUs, graphic processors, USB 2.0 (it initially had only 1.1 ports) and even a Bluetooth internal module but left unchanged as far as design and market positioning was concerned.
The last eMac model, which had a 1.42 GHz G4 CPU, was released in May 2005 and then discontinued in October. The Mac mini had already dethroned it as the entry level Macintosh of choice, and the educational market was well served by a low spec version of the G5-based (and then by an Intel Core Duo-based) white 17″ iMac.
Image courtesy of Apple.