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Flashback: Mac Classic

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Hello, my name is Joe Whitcomb from from Austin, Texas. In today's post I intend to take you on a journey through time back to 1990. Expect a video demonstration to be posted soon after this article.

Have you ever heard of or remember using a Macintosh Classic? The Mac Classic was a personal computer from Apple Computer released on October 15, 1990. The Classic was produced as a successor to the Macintosh Plus and the Macintosh SE and was similar to both. The Macintosh Classic had a 9 inch (23 cm) monochrome CRT display with a 512x342 resolution, and up to 4megabytes, yes MEGAbytes, not GIGAbytes like you kids are used to these days. Apple decided not to give the Classic more RAM or a color display so that it would be more compatible with Mac's already stable software and also to keep the price down to $999, although a faster version was released later for $1,500. The Macintosh Classic was the last compact mac to use a Motorola 68000 which ran at an incredible 8 MHz. Only the more expensive model had a 40 MB hard disk and 2 MB of memory, the low end model had no hard disc and 1MB of memory. The Classic ran Apple OS 6.0.7 but was compatible up to Apple OS 7.5.5.


Display: 9-inch (23 cm) monochrome CRT display, 512 × 342 pixel resolution

Storage: 40 MB SCSI hard disk drive optional, Built-in SuperDrive 3.5 in floppy disk drive

Processor: 8 MHz Motorola 68000

Bus Speed: 8 MHz

Random Access Memory: 1 MB, expandable to 2 or 4 MB using 120 ns 30-pin SIMMs and optional custom RAM-slot expansion card

Read-only Memory: 512 KB

Networking: AppleTalk

Battery: 3.6 V lithium

Physical dimensions: 13.2 in × 9.7 in × 11.2 in (33.5 cm × 24.6 cm × 28.4 cm; depth by width by height)

16 lb (7.26 kg)

Port connections: 1× ADB (keyboard, mouse)

2× mini-DIN-8 RS-422 serial ports (printer, modem, AppleTalk)

1× DB-19 (ext. floppy drive)

1× DB-25 SCSI connector (ext. hard drive, scanner)

1× 3.5 mm Headphone jack socket

Expansion slots: none

Audio: 8-bit mono 22 kHz


The Macintosh Classic was criticized by some members in the PC community as a cheap computer with slow processing speeds and a lack of expansion slots and was not meant or used for graphic design, it was used more for home computing or "limited computing on the road," and many schools opted for the more expensive Macintosh LC which had a color display and a faster processor.


Reviews from 1990:

Liza Schafer of Home Office Computing: "The Classic's value is more impressive than its performance, but its performance will get you working on that novel, database, or spreadsheet."

PC Week: "The 7.8 MHz speed is adequate for text applications and limited graphics work, but it is not suitable for power users. As such, the Classic is appropriate as a home computer or for limited computing on the road."

PC User "The slow processor and lack of expansion slots on the Macintosh Classic offset the low prices."

MacWEEK described it as a "fine, inexpensive replacement for the Macintosh Plus that best embodies the original Macintosh vision six and a half years later".

Robbert McCarthy of Electronic Learning: "Teachers, educational administrators and software developers are enthusiastic about the new, lower cost Apple Macintosh computers".

Steve Taffe of MECC: "[it] is terrific – both because it's a Mac and because of that low price. Everyone can now afford a Macintosh."

Scholastic: "They are just as cost-effective and as powerful as MS-DOS computers, but the Apples will have a superior comfort-level."

Sue Talley, Apple's manager of strategic planning in education: "we see it going into applications where you need a fair number of powerful stations, but where color is not a big issue." She also said The Macintosh Classic was most suited for writing labs and other basic productivity uses.