The 20th Anniversary Mac

The 20th Anniversary Mac is one of the most unique and unusual computers Apple has ever released.

When it went for sale in 1997 with a $7,500 price tag, it didn’t do amazingly well in the market. While only 11,600 were sold, each one was built to be special. The TAM doesn’t share the same startup chime or paint color as other Macs of its age, and the one-off ADB keyboard featured a leather palm rest and removable trackpad. The mouse was too common for users of this machine. Apple could even send someone to set up the entire system for you. Rumor has it that they would do so in a tuxedo.

The external unit was both a subwoofer and the power supply and attached to the head unit by a thick umbilical cable. The sub was part of the Bose-designed sound system. The cloth-covered speakers completed the system, which could be controlled via the buttons on either side of the vertically-oriented CD drive.

The 20th Anniversary Mac shipped with the ability play television and FM radio, and came with an infrared remote. Apple really pitched this as more than just a computer; it could be a complete entertainment system.

The 20th Anniversary Mac brought with it a vision for the future. Its built-in LCD was ground-breaking for desktop users used to CRTs. It was a computer that made a statement. Apple was saying that it valued design and could build something ready for the 21st century.

The TAM ended up having a short life. After a couple of steep price cuts, it was discontinued in March 1998. Even though it wasn’t a big hit, it was an important computer, and set to define many of the things we’ve come to expect from Apple desktops in the years since.