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The Worst Apple Products of All Time 469

An anonymous reader writes "While Apple is frequently referred to as a leader in consumer electronic product design, the history of the company is filled with examples of poor design and questionable product strategies. This list of Apple's worst ever products includes some interesting trivia, including Apple's overpriced eWorld Internet service, their painfully bad attempt at a 'value' computer (the Performa), the much-loathed 'hockey puck' mouse, and the Apple Pippin gaming platform. The article also includes the infamous Apple III, which overheated so badly that it prompted one of the strangest repair techniques ever: 'Users were advised to pick the computer up a few inches off the ground and then drop it, hopefully jostling the chips back into position.'"
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The Worst Apple Products of All Time

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  • The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by c0mpliant ( 1516433 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:07AM (#31143092)
    10 QuickTake
    9 Pippin
    8 iPod Hi-Fi
    7 Power PC
    6 Mac OS9
    5 eWorld
    4 Performa line
    3 "Hockey Puck" mouse
    2 20th Anniversary Mac
    1 Apple III

    Honourable Mentions: Color Classic and the Mac Portable
    • Re:The List (Score:5, Interesting)

      by u38cg ( 607297 ) <> on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:13AM (#31143116) Homepage
      Huh. My first computer was a recycled Apple III and I had a lot of fun with it. Never overheated once, although it wasn't until after several years I got curious and popped off the case, and discovered a second memory module which had been rattling around loose all the time I had owned it. And nothing says technology like a 5MB hard drive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArcherB ( 796902 )

        Huh. My first computer was a recycled Apple III and I had a lot of fun with it. Never overheated once, although it wasn't until after several years I got curious and popped off the case, and discovered a second memory module which had been rattling around loose all the time I had owned it. And nothing says technology like a 5MB hard drive.

        I believe one of Apple's biggest failures was dumping that Apple line. They never made the Apple IV and moved the resources into the Mac. Granted, the Mac was good, but I still liked the "openness" of the Apple I's, II's and III's. You could open the case and put whatever you wanted into them. They were very powerful machines for their day and could have been a worthy competitor to all the "IBM clones" that came out shortly afterward.

        Unfortunately, they dumped it to keep it from competing with the new L

    • Re:The List (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:13AM (#31143122)
      No Quicktime Player? It's a turd of a program on either OS, but the windows version definitely stand out as a major PITA.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by beelsebob ( 529313 )

        Except that Quicktime Player 1-3 and Quicktime Player X are excellent programs. I would agree with you for everything between Quicktime Player 4 and Quicktime Player 7.

        • by EdZ ( 755139 )
          X is just as bad as it's predecessors. Does it still require you to install various browser plugins, an updater (that continuously prompts you to install Safari as a default 'update'), give playback permission to the Quicktime Player (good luck disabling it without uninstalling everything entirely), etc just to be able to open the .mov container? Never mind that as a player it's pretty poor compared to, well, everything. VLC, MPC, Mplayer even Windows Media Player has better luck playing back a reasonable r
          • Re:The List (Score:4, Informative)

            by loutr ( 626763 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:56AM (#31143406)
            I think QuickTime X is only available on Snow Leopard, so it's preinstalled, you just need to install a codec pack (Perian [] is pretty good). After that it works quite well, the UI is minimalist yet pretty : the video takes up the whole window (including borders) and the controls fade in if you hover over the video.
            • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

              Even if you do install Perian there will be formats that Quicktime doesn't play.

              VLC is still better than an enhanced version of Quicktime. (Same goes for Plex)

              • Perian pretty much covers everything VLC covers, the only one I know to be missing is flac, and that's easily added with another plugin.

          • You should try using Quicktime on OS X instead of on Windows, just like iTunes and Safari it is a lot better on OS X than it is on Windows.


      • Re:The List (Score:5, Informative)

        by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:38AM (#31143286) Journal

        No Quicktime Player? It's a turd of a program on either OS, but the windows version definitely stand out as a major PITA.

        Beaten only by iTunes, also strangely not on the list.
        I don't care how cool iPods are, or how well the iTunes store works, the software is horrible on Windows.

      • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

        What's wrong with it on OS X?

    • by Wingsy ( 761354 )
      I notice that all these products are from quite a few years ago. They couldn't find anything recent?
    • Re:The List (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:33AM (#31143256)

      No mention of the latest generation ipod shuffle? The one where they figured control buttons would "clutter up" the design, so instead you have to buy special, expensive apple earbuds/headphones that are all cluttered up with inline controls and only cost ten times the cost of normal headphones? So the shuffle plus a pair of "special" headphones costs more than a nano?

      I'd buy a shuffle in an instant, if it had volume up / volume down / play-pause buttons on the device.

      I know adapter cables are sold, and I guess I could duct tape / hot glue gun the adapter onto the shuffle, to make an almost usable "exercise ipod". But having to pay the "apple tax" and then whip out the duct tape and hot glue gun to make it usable is just going too far.

      Note I'm not an apple hater, I enjoy by nano for exercise listening and my ipod touch for PDA and video use, but the shuffle is just a design disaster.

      • I initially ripped on the controls on the ear phone cable until I started using them with my iPhone. Now I think about how stupid it is to have to pull the device out of my pocket or go searching around on my waistband just to skip a song or adjust the volume. For example, last time I was snowboarding I wanted to adjust the song. Instead of having to go digging through my jacket I was able to just change it from the ear buds. That also alleviated the need to pull the device out in the cold air and have

    • Re:The List (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:41AM (#31143306)

      As someone who has been using Macs since around 1990 I disagree with quite a number of points on this list. First of all, the worst Apple product ever is without any doubt the Performa 5200 [], but not the whole performa line. I've owned several performas that were very good and compact machines. Regarding the 5200, it is true that just about everything about this machine was wrong: its weight, its design, the built-in monitor, the speed (Powermac, but slower than most 68k Macs). The next point: OS 9 was an absolutely great OS and IMHO only OS 6 was better at its time. At least, unlike OS X, OS 9 is able to remember window sizes and positions. As for the "honorable mention" color classic, this still is a great machine. I once had one and have always regretted that I had sold it. It was completely silent and with a few modifications would be quite suitable for text processing today.

      Moreover, given that the author of this article claims that Power PC (especially the B/W Macs) were a failure, I doubt whether he has ever owned a Mac at all. I bought a b/w Power PC Mac just when it came out, it absolutely rocked, and was usable for around 10 years. Generally speaking, the built quality of Power PC Macs was much better (except for the Performa 5200) than today's Macs. (To be fair, the b/w Mac keyboard really sucked.) In fact, the built quality of Macs has declined constantly since the Mac Plus (I have one standing on my shelf, it still boots without problems) and is worse than ever now with the exception of that of the overprized Mac Pro.

      To cut a long story short, some of the items in the list are fairly incomprehensible and I suspect the author of the article has never owned or used them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )

        I disagree with OS9. While it certainly was the best of the original MacOSes, which one would hope being the latest generation, it wasn't a good OS overall given when it was released.

        The time had long passed since the whole "cooperative multitasking, no memory protection, static memory allocation," thing was a good idea in OSes. It was more than past time to move on. MS was in full swing doing that. Windows NT, released in 1993, went full on with features like that you should have in a modern OS. Windows 95

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Gotta agree with you there.But the PowerPC chips kept the Mac alive longer than a switch to any other processor at the time; they were close enough to the Motorola 680x0 line that the OS could be ported with decent emulation to run older binaries. It was only near the end, when Motorola and IBM lost interest in going head to head with intel that Apple decided to switch again.

        I think the Performa got singled out as a line despite there being gems in the mix due to how terrible it was for the stores to sell.

      • Re:The List (Score:5, Informative)

        by joeyblades ( 785896 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @11:22AM (#31144286)

        The author's main complaint on the PowerPC was that it was not the ubiquitous Intel... I hardly think that makes it a mistake by Apple. The change to the Intel architecture does seem to have been a good one, but that doesn't make the long time support of the PowerPC was a bad one.

        In fact, if Apple would have switched from the 68K architecture to an available Intel architecture at the time, it would have been crippling. There would not have been enough horsepower to support classic emulation. Until the MMX, the Intel architecture's pipelining was just not efficient enough and even then it was marginal. So in terms of performance, the PowerPC architecture was several years ahead of the Intel architecture.

        The author's comment about the PowerPC power consumption is mystifying. Compared to the Intel offereings at the time, it was best in class.

    • Why isn't the mac clone line on here that was the largest disaster in Apple.
  • And? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beh ( 4759 ) * on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:08AM (#31143102)

    Sure, Apple's had some really bad products over time - but what do you expect from a company that big which survived that long?

    And - how many open source projects died, never making it...

    Apple, like any other company, doesn't always just launch brilliant products - but, at least, they're not afraid to try new things and see how they pan out...

    Overall I think it's good that the DO dare making something entirely new; and more often than not fail with their products. Sometimes they even failed commercially, while still making a product people still care about (e.g. Newton).

    For myself, I know many people are critical of the iPad, on the other hand, I think I will still buy one - it looks like a cool ebook reader - whether it has multi-tasking or not.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:08AM (#31143104)

    I don't think eWorld failed because of its now-ludicrous-sounding pricing model. At the time (early/mid-90s), it was the norm for online services to have monthly fees that gave only a few free hours per month, and then cost significant amounts per hour after that. In the early 90s, AOL gave 2 free hours for $7.95/month and $6/hour thereafter, and was wildly successful, so eWorld's $8.95/mo for 2 free hours and $5/hr day, $8/hr nights thereafter doesn't seem like it was so far out of line as to kill it.

    • AOL's prices were pretty unreasonable, but they made up for it by providing every person on the planet with at least a dozen coasters for their desk in the form of AOL sign up CDs. Not once did I see Apple bombarding me at every waking moment with such gifts. Shame on you Apple, shame on you...
    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:27AM (#31143224) Journal
      In general the whole article just laughs at old products from a today perspective. In the top 10 are also the PowerPC and MacOS 9. I think it misses the point half of the time.
      • Apple had to switch off the 68k, Motorola was basically putting it out to pasture. Apple was never a very big customer of theirs, so it wasn't enough to keep it alive. Crappy situation, but it had to happen. Now at that point they had two major choices:

        1) Go with x86. That was the industry standard for personal computers, of course. Intel dumped tons of money in to development to make them the biggest, baddest, most powerful computer chips you could get, and it worked. They were, and are, fast as hell. Also

        • by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @12:35PM (#31145294)

          Except that your memories and mine differ. At that time, Intel processors weren't speed demons, and the PPC ran much faster. This was because Intel was seriously limited by backward compatibility, and the PPC was a new RISC chip. At that time, if you wanted raw CPU speed in a consumer desktop (which was less useful than lots of people seemed to think), the Mac was the correct choice.

          Later on, Intel came up with ways to efficiently process a truly arcane instruction set, and CPU performance vs. memory bandwidth vs. increasing use of cache changed the balance of RISC vs. CISC desirability, and IBM and Motorola wouldn't continue to produce good PPC laptop chips, and Apple changed again.

      • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

        I agree about PowerPC - but as for MacOS, I'd put the entirety of classic MacOS in there. Before they ditched it for Next, even in its day it was a poor OS (e.g., couldn't even multitask - something that Apple has seemed to enjoy doing again, with the Iphones...). This was especially true by the time it got to MacOS 9.

    • May depend on the specific time and area. I wasn't on the Internet at the start of the 90s, but by 1995 when I did get on, it was a flat rate for access. AOL may have still been doing hourly then, I don't know, but there were plenty of small ISPs that did flat rates.

      Also, as they noted, it was designed to push hardware sales and was Mac only. That is a pretty major problem.

  • by rimcrazy ( 146022 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:09AM (#31143106)

    Love their products in general. MacPro and MacBook user myself but I hate their mice and their keyboards. They both have always sucked.

    The Lisa sucked big time. As did Newton but ... they paved the way for future products some by Apple some not that were quite successful.

    No guts no glory. They at least stick their neck out there and try things. Sometimes it does not always work.

    • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:39AM (#31143288)

      Love their products in general. MacPro and MacBook user myself but I hate their mice and their keyboards. They both have always sucked

      This is true.

      Missing item from the "worst" list is every Apple UK keyboard ever, which is just a US keyboard with the (#) key replaced by a (£) key, leaving all sorts of punctuation keys in the US positions. Fail.

      I think the mouse problem is that you really need to go out and choose a mouse that fits your hand - Apple are constrained to (a) only having one or two models (b) making it one-size-fits-all and ambidextrous and (c) being obliged to make something "different" and "designer-y". Fortunately, for ages now, any PC USB mouse has worked fine, including multiple buttons and scroll wheels.

    • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:40AM (#31143300)

      I agree totally that their mice suck, but I adore their keyboards. To offset the mouse bit too – their track pads are by far the best in the business.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:41AM (#31143312)

      The article is just trying to point out that along with great successes, they have great failures too. The press as of late has been rather over the top fanboyish with Apple, hailing everything they do as amazing and generally projecting them as a company that makes bold decisions that are never wrong. This article seemed like a counterpoint to that. Showing that along with their successes, that everyone has heard about, there are plenty of failures, which many people have not. That will be true for any company, but in particular for companies that try something new.

      I think it is a good reminder over all, given the massive over-hype that surrounded the iPad launch. Much of the tech press had worked themselves in to a frenzy and had decided it was going to be the greatest thing ever, without knowing anything about it. This has then been followed by a good bit of letdown. They seemed to have the idea that everything Apple produces is an amazing winner of a product. I think it is a useful reminder to say that no, Apple has produced some real bombs in the past. They are a company composed of people like any other and people make mistakes. They WILL fuck up sometimes.

      I could add a few more recent products to that list, the cube being one, and Apple TV looking like another.

      • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

        I fully agree. The fallacy in the press, and my users here, seems to be "The Ipod was successful, therefore anything else from them will be".

        The fact that the Mac has always been a niche product, and the Iphone is a niche product, is ignored. Indeed, the press hype it up as if the Iphone was as successful as the Ipod!

        The annoying thing is, these people aren't even consistent. By their logic, since Windows is massively successful, we should all be talking about Microsoft's Zune as if it's going to be the nex

  • Mobile Me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by albyrne5 ( 893494 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:14AM (#31143134)
    I made the switch to Apple about 2 years ago - iPhone, iMac and Mac Book Pro, and I've been very very pleased with almost every single aspect.


    It's f***ing DOG-DIRT! Whether it's sync issues or the server dying, or e-mails vanishing into thin air; there's always SOMETHING going wrong with the goddamn thing.

    And I keep holding on thinking, "well they're bound to get it right sooner or later", but it's later and later and later, and still no sign of it ever being fixed. Drives me batty.
  • Laptops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:17AM (#31143154)
    It's strange that the early multi-coloured iMac laptops are not on the list. I still have nightmares of the semi-transparent coloured plastic fad those things 'inspired'. I think I might vote for those as the ugliest computer ever designed. It's especially strange given that the later laptops are some of the nicest looking machines around.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      It's strange that the early multi-coloured iMac laptops are not on the list.

      Given that you use laptop both in the title and body of your post, I assume you're refering to the first generation iBook [].

      • Correct, thanks. The similarly styed desktops had a heaping portion of ugly as well, but the clamshell laptops were an order of magnitude worse ... not that I have an opinion.
  • No G4 Cube? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:21AM (#31143188)

    At least Apple learns from it's mistakes. they finally found a home for the cube/box computer as the Mac Mini and a lot of people like it. and if you look at almost everything Steve Jobs has built over the years starting from the 1980's, it's like he's making the same computer over and over again. everything in one unit except for the keyboard and mouse

    • And the market seems to like it. Outside of enthusiasts in the PC market, most people will buy a box and never think about upgrading it until it's time to buy a new one. And in the long run, that doesn't actually cost any more than buying a grey box and upgrading individual components, either.

      But in a market which is increasingly shifting towards laptops and all-in-one computers, perhaps the idea of building a computer that has everything you need in a single portable box is actually a good one? I know that

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      PC vendors were making machines in book and cube form before Apple was. There was nothing particularly innovative or daring about either of those ideas.

      Apple dramatically improved it's marketing. That's been the most significant recent change.

  • Geomodem (Score:5, Informative)

    by slashqwerty ( 1099091 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:25AM (#31143210)
    Unlike other modems the GeoModem did not moulate and demodulate. Instead it used the modem hidden inside your CPU! By purchasing an adapter that cost as much as a real modem you could use the processor inside your computer to handle all the modulating and demodulating. On an OS that used shared multitasking this was not very reliable. Its one and only advantage is that you could upgrade the software. It went from 14.4kbps to 33.6kbps over night.
  • I have an admitted fanboy friend that has had all those items throughout the years, except for the 20th anniversary mac.

    At the time he had them, "they were the greatest thing ever".

    Ask him about them now and he'll tell you they were all crap, with the exception of the PowerPC. He still swears by that (which I really don't understand).

    Point being, with technology being what it is and constantly advancing, doesn't everything eventually become crap?

    • Point being, with technology being what it is and constantly advancing, doesn't everything eventually become crap?

      Not in my opinion. I still consider the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis to you Americans) as one of the best consoles of all time. By todays standards it outdated and had a terrible controller, sure, but I certainly wouldn't call it crap. Now compare that to the Sega Mega CD which was pretty much crap all round. Both old, both consoles, not equally crap.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If you look back, the Power chips are RISC basic processors as opposed to CISC on the Intels. Throughout the 1990's, the PPC's were superior to vastly superior for the graphics and and audio worlds. The last time I knew anything, submarines used PPC chips for sonar analysis (not Apples, made by somebody else to custom specs) for that reason.

      Although things began to change in the early 2000's. For one, companies like Newtek began optimizing their renderers for x86 and it lead to the Intel chips to become

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:29AM (#31143234)
    For the article itself not being a clickfest of 1 paragraph pages! I nominate it for best top 10 list article of 2010!!
  • At least they didn't invent BOB.

  • AOL came from eWorld (Score:3, Informative)

    by zerosomething ( 1353609 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:42AM (#31143316) Homepage
    eWorld and AOL never competed agains each other as the article would suggest. In fact AOL grew out of the remains of eWorld. [] Oh and the pricing wasn't really so bad compared to not being online or long distance dial up and membership fees for other BBS.
  • by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:44AM (#31143324)

    - i did RTFA (it happens!)
    - i know Apple history
    - i'm not Apple fan and don't own any Apple product (anymore) actually



    PowerPC was not a failure. PowerPC's were sold by IBM in their POWER architectures and had quite a bit of success there as well. They were quick, worked well, and they allowed the transition for Apple. If apple went x86 back then, there might have been no apple today. The only "failure" would have been the G5, or in fact, the lack of G6.
    Undelivered promises of updates, for 2 years, and Apple had to switch to Intel.

    MacOS 9:
    TFA is confusing MacOS 8 with Copland (MacOS 8 original codename).
    Copland was from-scratch operating system, with true preemptive multitasking and most of the things we're used to today.
    It took ages and never got completed (in fact, the failure here, was Copland).
    Apple released instead MacOS 8 and subsequent updates with partial features of Copland, but no rewrite. MacOS 9 was the last of the serie, nothing more, nothing less (MacOS 9.2.2). On top of that, it is the only MacOS that could run natively inside OSX. MacOS classic pionnered todays GUI.

    20th anniversary Mac:
    exclusive, high priced item, for collectors.. that the author has mistaken for a consumer level product. don't really need to say more. (actually ill quote: "the issue here is not the product but that it was released during a financial crisis" then "i know the financial crisis was not related to the 20th mac".. yeah well keep on contradicting yourself just to add 1 product to the list")

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

      exclusive, high priced item, for collectors.. that the author has mistaken for a consumer level product

      But wait ... I thought that was all Apple products?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jesus_666 ( 702802 )
      PowerPC really went bad with the G5 - while adequate for normal desktop systems, it was too power-hungry for use in laptops, restricting PowerPC laptops to the G4; also, IBM couldn't acheive the high clock speeds the high-end market demanded. I'd qualify the G5 as decent if they ever got the power usage down and/or the clock speed up.

      I'm not sure whether the G6 would have fixed those problems but Apple couldn't afford to wait: Their laptops were performance-starved and the G6 would probably have made them
  • screens (Score:4, Funny)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:47AM (#31143342)

    Built-in screens made sense at the start of the computing age but they have thankfully gone the way of the dinosaurs

    It's funny to read this on an iMac.

  • from the performa-was-truly-a-dog dept.

    In my country, the performa is a condom. It's also marginally (marginally!) preferable to a nasty disease

  • I am not sure how they came up with their criticsm of the Color classic being an indictment of the idea of the built in monitor.

    "It could be argued that this system forced Apple to rethink building screens into systems. Sue it looks very good but it increases the overall cost of the system and limits users to a particular view. Built-in screens made sense at the start of the computing age but they have thankfully gone the way of the dinosaurs"

    So I am wondering if anyone knows if the Australian Apple market

  • Missing Option (Score:4, Informative)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday February 15, 2010 @09:59AM (#31143428)

    The Lisa

  • ... Every single mouse ever produced by Apple. Ever!

    C'mon Steve, get over your button-o-phobia already!

    TWO is the right number for buttons a mouse. Two buttons, one on each side of the mouse, with definite clicky tactile feedback.

    Not one big clicky button in the middle (with no right click).

    Not some vague number of buttons with zero tactile feedback and random results if a stray finger is slightly touching the mouse somewhere else.


    • I disagree, 5 main buttons is what you want for a mouse. Middle click is essential and back/forward buttons are very useful.

  • An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.

    -Niels Bohr
  • "Everything Apple does is over-priced. A the mark of a great Apple failure is being both over-priced and under-powered."

    That's pretty much what they had to say about every product listed.

    I used to love Apple II series computers. They were the tinker and learning machines of the day. People pushed them to all sorts of uncharted limits. Macs were too expensive to hack on so most people who owned Mac paid so much for them that they were afraid to hack on them. (Yeah, I know there were still some hacks and

  • 2009 mac pro should be on the list as it has

    * High price for it's hardware come on $2500 for 3gb of ram and poor video card NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB. The last on started at $2200 and the old g5 was at $2000.
    * High priced video card upgrade add $200 for a ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB makeing it's real cost $350 (200+150 base cost of gt120)
    * NO SLI or crossfire in osx as well.
    * Does not work in osx with non efi / apple video cards.
    * reused the old g5 case with little change.

  • Color Classic: It could be argued that this system forced Apple to rethink building screens into systems. Sure it looks very good but it increases the overall cost of the system and limits users to a particular view. Built-in screens made sense at the start of the computing age but they have thankfully gone the way of the dinosaurs.

    Did the author forget about the iMac?

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