The Lazarus Mac: Power Macintosh G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors 2003)

This guest post is written by Thomas Brand. You know he can be trusted because his blog looks like a Newton.

The Mirror Drive Door Power Mac G4

In an era where Apple continues to sell last year’s MacBook Pro, and the Mac Pro has not been updated in over one thousand days, I am reminded of a Mac that Apple brought back from the grave to meet the needs of desktop publishing professionals reluctant to upgrade.

The Power Macintosh G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors 2003) was Released on June 23, 2003, alongside the new Power Macintosh G5. It replaced the six month old Power Mac G4 (FireWire 800) that came before it.

Unlike its successor, the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) lacked a G5 processor, aluminum enclosure and USB 2.0. Unlike its predecessor, the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) lacked FireWire 800, AirPort Extreme and built-in Bluetooth.

It came in two CPU configurations, single or dual 1.25 GHz; with 256 MB of DDR RAM and a 12X Combo Drive. Hard disk capacity started at 80 GBs; with Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar preinstalled.

But what made the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) special wasn’t its specs, rather the fact it could boot into Mac OS 9.

That’s becuase the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) wasn’t a new computer. It was a year old design Apple brought back from the dead.

It was reanimated to appease desktop publishing professionals who could not yet make the transition to Mac OS X. Their excuse, QuarkXPress.

Quark 5

At the time, QuarkXPress was the industry standard desktop publishing platform.1 Version 5 had been released less than a year earlier but only ran on Mac OS 9 and Windows. When asked for an update Quark CEO Fred Ebrahimi was quick to respond, taunting users to switch to Windows if they didn’t like it, saying, “The Macintosh platform is shrinking and anyone dissatisfied with Quark’s Mac commitment should “switch to something else.

Most desktop publishing professionals switched, but instead of Windows they choose Adobe InDesign; Adobe’s competing page layout program that ran on Mac OS X.

Apple helped switchers by offering discounts on Adobe’s Design software when purchasing a new Power Mac or PowerBook, but there were still plenty of desktop publishing professionals who felt stranded.

Instead of turning them away, Apple offered the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) as a lifeboat; a discounted $1,299 Macintosh that could keep running QuarkXpress. Discontinued on June 9, 2004, the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) was the last Mac that could boot into Mac OS 9.

Today Apple continues to sell old Macs from years past in an effort to meet missing price points. But not since the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) has it resurrected a discontinued computer to appease customers. By keeping the Mac Pro 2013 alive maybe it doesn’t have to. After all isn’t a half dead Mac Pro better than no Mac Pro at all?

  1. Editor’s Note: I ran QuarkXPress 5 in Classic mode on a Power Mac G4 for a year at my college newspaper before we were able to upgrade to version 6. Those were the days. — S.H.