Apple introduced the iMac G4/800 on January 7, 2002. I can remember the day vividly. The web was buzzing over Apple's new flat panel iMac. No one knew exactly what it would look like, but everyone seemed to have an opinion. Early in the day, Apple's online store shut down and so we all waited for Steve Jobs to introduce the new iMac at Macworld Expo. When the store finally opened back up, replete with pictures of the new flat panel iMac, my response with a cross between, "What the heck is that?" and "Wow!" I put my order in within days. The total cost was about $2000 (base price of $1799 plus RAM upgrade). I had to wait almost a month to get it. Apple had to scramble to fill orders. The new flat panel iMac was in short supply and in very high demand.
It worked great the first day out of the box and I have never experienced any mechanical issues. I can count the system crashes on one hand. It has always just worked. This model has a very important place in Apple's history. It was the first iMac to include a flat screen panel, and the first to truly fit into Steve Job's "digital lifestyle" motif. It was a tremendous improvement over my previous iMac, a grape G3/400. Beginning with the G4 iMac, Apple began making OS X the default operating system on all iMacs. G3 iMacs, which beginning in early 2001 had OS X as an option, began to ship with OS X as the default operating system. The G4 iMacs signaled the end of the line for OS 9.
A Vectronic's Apple World reader sent us this email on April 13, 2009 to correct the record on OS X shipping in G3 iMacs:
Regarding the iMac G4 collection page, the G4 was not the first iMac to ship with Mac OS X. The Early 2001 iMac G3 had 10.0.3 (and 9.1 in Classic) as its later shipping OS. The Summer 2001 model had 10.0.4 and 9.1 as original shipping OS, and 10.1 up to 10.2 and 9.2 as later shipping.
Thanks! We have clarified the statement suggesting that iMacs before the G4 didn't ship with OS X.
At the time the G4/800 was introduced, there was still great concern over the transition from Classic Mac OS to OS X. This model has the ability to boot up OS 9 or run Classic applications with "Classic Environment" running in the background. I used that feature extensively for many months but eventually quit using Classic mode. The main problem I had was installing drivers for both OSs. Some peripherals worked fine. Others had issues with drivers installed in both Classic and OS X. I had a printer that would not work in OS X if Classic was running in the background. Conceding to a plethora of issues, I converted everything to OS X and never looked back. The G4/800 shipped with Mac OS X v10.1 (Puma) and Mac OS 9.2 (Classic). My G4/800 has been upgraded to Mac OS v10.2 (Jaguar), but it officially supports up to Mac OS v10.4 (Tiger).
About the same time Apple released this model, .Mac (dot Mac), formerly iTools, was made into a fee-based service. I can understand why so many people complained at the time. It seems like Apple likes to nickel and dime its user base to death. I bit the bullet and subscribed. .Mac worked great on this Mac. So great in fact, that I started Vectronic's Apple World using .Mac. Vectronic's has now moved on to a standard hosing service, but .Mac helped us get our feet wet.
iMac G4/800 keyboard
iMac G4/800 Pro Mouse
The iMac G4/800 has an 800 MHz G4 processor. The G4/800 has the following ports: three USB 1.1 ports, two FireWire 400-Mbps ports, one RJ-45, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet port, one RJ-11 56K V.90 modem port, one Mini-VGA output port, one speaker jack, and one headphone jack. There is a built in microphone set on the front of the monitor in the bottom left corner. There is a single internal SuperDrive capable of reading and writing CDs and DVDs. The disk drive is on the front of the computer. It opens by pushing the disk drive button on the iMac's keyboard. The full-sized keyboard is specially designed to work with this iMac. The G4/800 shipped with a white Pro Mouse.
iMac G4/800 ports
iMac G4/800 SuperDrive
The monitor size is 15 inches. This seems small now, but it was great back in 2002. The G4/800 has a NVIDIA GeForce2 MX graphics processor with AGP 2X support that provides 32 MB of dedicated Double Data Rate (DDR) video memory. Native resolution is 1024 x 768, but the built in monitor is also capable of 640 x 480 and 800 x 600. I purchased the maximum RAM of 1 GB, but the stock model only shipped with 256 MB of RAM. RAM can be changed by removing a panel on the bottom of the chassis. This iMac is AirPort ready but does not have an AirPort Card installed. The internal hard drive is 60 GB, a huge leap over the 10 GB hard drive of my previous iMac purchased just two years before. The G4/800 has a small internal speaker. It shipped with a set of external Apple Pro Speakers, two beautiful, transparent round speakers that look as good as they sound.
The chassis is as innovative as it is stunning. The monitor is housed on a moveable neck that allows the user to position it in the most comfortable viewing position possible. It also doubles as a handle to move the entire computer if necessary. The neck has two hinges, one connected to the monitor and one connected to the base. You don't get a full 360 degrees of movement on any axis, but I can't imagine a situation where you would need that ability. The neck is a shiny silver color, the same color as the inlaid metal Apple logo on the back of the monitor and on the front of the computer. The base is a half bowling ball shape with the cooling fan on top, under the neck. It is whisper quiet.
The iMac G4/800 is a stunning, ground breaking design. Apple retired this form factor in August 2004 with the introduction of the G5 iMac. Given the unique design of the G4 iMac and its relatively short two years of production time, I expect it to increase in value as good examples become more rare.