My iMac G4 Love Affair

Name a product, any product, that was as widely loved, copied or revered as a work of art in its own right. You can’t.

The G4 iMac (Sunflower, Lamp) is the only computer that was featured in the windows of arts, fashion and design stores in New York City. Yes, Manhattan, the epicenter of world fashion, featured computers, albeit usually showing their designs as a slideshow but sometimes just as a blank screen, in their uber-important, uber-expensive window space.

That very same computer sat on my dad’s desk for four years. It was more than a computer, it was an iconic piece of computer design. While many may argue that its capabilities were limited because of the design (I’d agree), there may never be a better looking desktop computer. Desktop design has certainly reached its peak.

I loved it for the following reasons:

1. Upgrading both RAM chips was an Apple geek rite of passage
Easily one of the toughest RAM upgrades in a consumer desktop I’ve ever opened. I’m perfectly aware that Apple didn’t advertise both chips as being user-accessible, but both were accessible if you had an afternoon, a steady hand and someone really, really patient to keep you from giving up. Those patient enough were rewarded with a whopping one gigabyte of RAM, which seemed a ton in 2003.

2. The 17″ model was one of the first widescreen monitors for many of us who never had towers
Movies looked AMAZING on that puppy and with multiple viewing angles, you could watch it slouched back, leaning forward, from the side while you worked on something else or even up high, if you were like me and used an iBook as your main computer. And the speakers looked cool, almost making up for their lack of bass. This was really the first computer that was far, far more than just a functional piece of desk equipment.

3. The round base made me think of volleyball, which made me think of sports, which reminded me to get up everyone once a while
Yep, a computer that looked so good you felt bad about sitting in front of it for hours. Plenty of soon-to-be owners at my Apple retail store couldn’t take their hands off the base, constantly touching and rubbing it. Never before had a piece of stationary technology enticed such a tactile response. The computer almost felt human. I bet plenty of people also imagined an iMac instead of a lamp in any Pixar animation.

4. The screen floated
I touched it. You touched it. Visitors touched it. Besides the slight lean it developed after a few years of use (to the right), the arm still works for every G4 iMac I’ve seen recently. Jobs, Ive and the team really delivered quite a piece of engineering on that arm.

5. It replaced one of the most important, but utilitarian and ugly, iMacs Apple ever produced

Hey, I owned a Grape iMac DV. The fact we could play DVDs on it (A Bug’s Life) brought my fraternity brothers into my room nearly every afternoon, but that thing was a tank. The CRT screen was obviously the issue here, but damn it was ugly.

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