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The five weirdest Macs of all time

Benj Edwards | Oct. 15, 2012
In its 36 years in business, Apple has produced hundreds of computer models in a dizzying array of sizes, styles, and capabilities. All along the way, fans and critics alike have lauded Apple for its unique and distinctive design sense—even in the awkward years before Steve Jobs rejoined the company, believe it or not.

So if you imagine an object thats a television, thats a radio, thats a computerwhatever computer means. If you imagine an object that has an incredible sound system. If you imagine all of those functionalities, all those technologies, if you imagine them converging into one object, what should that object be? What on earth should it look like?

The answer, if you hadnt guessed, is the fourth weirdest Mac on our list.

3. Power Macintosh G4 Cube (2000)

Just after Steve Jobs announced the Power Mac G4 Cube in 2000, Apple fans immediately remembered the cube-shaped NeXT Computer from 1988 and began to sense a pattern emerging.

Aside from those two computers, that theory has never really been put to a good test. Perhaps some day Apple will release a hoard of cube-shaped iPod prototypes (with cube-shaped earbudsouch!). Until then, Ill admit that the only two notable cube-shaped PCs released in the United States arrived under the purview of Jobs. So yes, he probably liked cubes. Too much, in fact.

During the G4 Cubes introduction, Jobs spent what seemed like a minor eternity going over the fact that the machine was a perfect 8-inch cube suspended in a crystal-clear acrylic enclosure, as if that were its chief selling point. That might be why the machine didnt sell very welland it also might be why its the third weirdest Mac ever released.

2. Macintosh XL (1985)

Youre looking at the original Hackintosh. Thats what folks called the Macintosh XL back in the mid-1980s, because the product featured the body of an Apple Lisa 2/10 and the brain of a Mac.

The Lisa debuted in 1983 (predating the Macintosh by one year) with the exorbitant price of $9995 (mistake number 1). Understandably, sales were slow. Apple attempted to revitalize the Lisa line with the release of the Lisa 2, which launched alongside the first Macintosh in January 1984 (mistake number 2). Macs outsold Lisas by a huge margin, and Apple knew the Lisa platform was doomed.

Seeking to clear out existing Lisa 2 inventory, Apple bundled the unit with Macintosh emulation software and re-branded it as the Macintosh XL. It launched in January 1985 as part of the Macintosh Office system.

To Apples surprise, high-end consumers snapped up the $3995 Macintosh XL in dramatic fashion, buying up Apples entire supply within five months of its release.

With 2MB of RAM and a 10MB internal hard drive (at a time when the most powerful regular Mac included a non-upgradeable 512KB of RAM and no hard drive), the Mac XL seemed a bargain for users who wanted a Mac with enough memory to actually be useful. It even sported a higher display resolution than its smaller Mac cousin (608 by 431 versus 512 by 342 on the original Mac).


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