Summer 2000: Splintering the iMac G3 Line

On July 19, 2000, Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld New York. In this keynote, he unveiled updated PowerMac G4s, the G4 Cube and updated iMacs.

Jobs walked through the history of the iMac. Every nine months or so, Apple had revised the iMac, and the time had come to do it once again.

This marked the iMac’s second birthday. In the two years since the first machine shipped, Apple had sold 3.7 million iMacs. Jobs boasted that an iMac sold at a rate of 211 an hour, or one every 18 seconds.

Jobs went on to share some numbers about iMac customers:

  • 30% were first-time computer buyers
  • 14% were switching from Windows
  • 89% were using their iMacs to browse the Internet

I think this goes to show that the iMac was working. It was helping stabilize Apple by bringing new people to the Mac, and it was helping put Internet access in homes and schools around the world.

Building on the iMac lineup introduced in October 1999, the “Summer 2000” iMacs would come in 4 models:

July 2000 iMacs

The iMac (Summer 2000) was sold in Indigo and priced at an all-time low of $799. To hit this price point, this iMac lacked FireWire and an AirPort card slot. It was slightly better than 1999’s entry-level iMac, shipping a 350 MHz G3, 64 MB of RAM and a 7.5 GB hard drive.

Indigo would become the new default color for the iMac. These later iMacs were all toned down and a little more professional looking1 than the bright Five Flavors that came before.

(They also came with a new keyboard and optical mouse, mercifully.)

As you can see, it’s a rich, dark blue color that contrasts nicely with the white translucent plastic that makes up the bottom part of the case. I’m a fan.

Indigo iMac G3

One rung up was the iMac DV (Summer 2000). Like the iMac DV before it, it came with FireWire ports, a 400 MHz G3 and a 10 GB hard drive and a bundled copy of iMovie.2

Ruby iMac G3

It came in Indigo and Ruby, and at $999, was Apple’s attempt to bring iMovie to everyone. However, unlike 1999’s iMac DV, it came with a CD-ROM drive instead of a DVD-ROM for cost savings.

Up next: the iMac DV+ came in Indigo, Ruby and Sage:

Sage iMac G3

This $1,299 iMac came with a 450 MHz G3 and a whopping 20 GB hard drive and a DVD-ROM drive, but still shipped with the standard 64 MB of RAM.

Sadly, this generation would be the only to feature Ruby and Sage. It’s a shame, as they are really nice looking colors. If you come across a Ruby or a Sage, it’s a Summer 2000 iMac.

At the top of the line, with a $1499 price tag, was the iMac DV Special Edition (Summer 2000).

Jobs called this the “ultimate iMac,” and with a 500 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM and 30 GB of disk space. It cost $1,499, and in addition to retaining the Graphite finish, is also shipped in a new color called Snow:


Snow iMac G3

This new case would stick around until the very end of the iMac’s run, and offered just enough translucency to give a hint to what was beneath the plastic.

The Summer 2000 lineup would be the most complicated one Apple would offer. It was an expansion of the Good/Better/Best strategy announced 9 months before this event. In hindsight, locking Sage or Snow to certain price points seems frustrating, but I think Apple was trying to pull people upstream to the more expensive models. I can’t blame Apple for that, but I think it emphasized specs over color in a way that didn’t resonate for many consumers.

Then again, Apple does this sort of thing to this day.

  1. Other than Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian, naturally. 
  2. This event also marked the introduction of iMovie 2, but that’s a story for a different time.