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Today in Apple history: Meet the ‘Blue and White’ Power Mac

Jan5January 5, 1999: Apple introduces its revised Power Mac G3 minitower, often nicknamed the “Blue and White G3” or “Smurf Tower” to separate it from the earlier beige model.

The first new Power Mac since the colorful plastic iMac G3 shipped, the pro-level machine borrows the same transparent color scheme. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hang around too long..

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Important, but short-lived

The original beige Power Macintosh G3 series was introduced in November 1997, not too long after Apple unveiled its “Think Different” ad campaign. It represented the first Mac to employ the PowerPC G3 microprocessor, which was also part of the later Blue and White model. The line was a hit for Apple, with 750,000 shipping by the middle of 1998.

When the iMac arrived, however, Jobs and Jony Ive were keen to update it to match the new Apple design language (which was also evident in the arrival of the iBook laptop) and to keep up to date with the latest available hardware. The MacWorld event where Jobs revealed the new Power Mac G3 was the same one where he announced five new iMac colors.

Design-wise, the Power Mac G3 boasted a few nifty features. It was easy to open, with the right side of the case being a hinged door which could open by pulling a recessed latch. The case could be opened while the computer was running, and there was easy access to components (although changing them would require switching the machine off.) The design was code-named “El Capitan,” in a name which was later recycled for the 2015 version of macOS.

PowerMacG3One of the Power Mac G3’s original ads.
Photo: Apple

As far as spec goes, the Power Mac G3 was considerably different to its predecessor, despite sharing the same G3 processor. It was the first Apple machine to include FireWire, which became an important part of the company’s “digital hub” strategy and actually won Apple an Emmy.

It was also Apple’s first USB computer, but boasted a “legacy” ADB port so that users didn’t have to rely on dongles. A controversy at the time was its lack of regular serial ports, floppy-drive or on-board SCSI. Prices started at $ 1,599 and topped out at close to $ 5,000 for the kitted-out server configuration versions.

The Power Mac G3 received a speed bump in April 1999, although it didn’t last too much longer and was discontinued in favor of the Power Mac G4 line in August 1999.

Did you own one of these computers? Leave your comments below.

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