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Remembering the TAM

Mel Martin
March 20, 2009
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Our friend Hadley Stern at Apple Matters reminds us that that on this day in 1997 the Twentieth Anniversary Mac (or TAM) was offered for sale to a mystified public. Originally slated to sell for about U.S. $9,000 it was reduced at introduction to U.S. $7499.00. It was delivered and set up by a concierge, and at the time it was pretty radical, at least in looks. It was a thin, upright design, with an 800x600 LCD screen, a TV Tuner, and a Bose Audio system with a sub-woofer and power supply that sat under your desk.

Only 12,000 were made, but many remained unsold. The price soon dropped to $3500.00 and in March of 1998 it was closed out at $1999.00. That outraged original owners, and Apple responded by giving them a new Apple laptop.

I was able to grab one of the TAMs at $1600.00 and at that price I thought at least it would make a nice music system and second computer. Unfortunately, the system developed a nasty audio buzz. I wasn't alone, and many of the units had to be returned for a fix.

Performance specs weren't too great. It was limited to 128 MB of RAM. Most of the internals were similar to the components of the then current PowerMac 5500 and 6500, although the TAM had a custom motherboard.

I added a processor upgrade sold by Newer Technology, which kicked the speed from 250 to 400 MHz. That helped, but the upgrade required a new back for the TAM that didn't enhance the slim profile.

Of course the TAM was a statement computer, not a howling fast desktop. Here is a link to the specs. Although Steve Jobs was said to have hated the TAM (he was in exile from Apple at the time) you can see some of the early evolution of the iMac in the design.

There are still quite a few of the TAMs out in the world, and there are some web sites dedicated to keeping the flame alive. You can't run OS X on them, so you had to max out at OS 8 or 9.

Jerry Seinfeld had one, and it could be seen on the set of his TV show in the final season.

I parted with mine long ago, but it was always a good conversation piece when people dropped by, and the 90's ultra-modern design doesn't look out of place at all today.

Thanks to Apple Matters for reminding us about the TAM.



















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