Today in Apple history: Mac Color Classic ditches monochrome

February 10: Today in Apple history: Macintosh Color Classic ditches monochromeFebruary 10, 1993: Apple launches the Macintosh Color Classic, the company’s first color compact Mac.

As the first desktop Mac to offer an integrated color display, and the last U.S. Mac to offer the compact form factor, this model represents a landmark in the evolution of the Macintosh. A Color Classic unit also happens to be the 10 millionth Macintosh Apple shipped.

From our 2018 perspective of Retina 5K displays and commonplace 27-inch screens, it seems amazing that there was ever a time when the Color Classic wowed us in this department. But it did.

The 10-inch Sony Trinitron color display measured a whole inch larger than the 9-inch screens previous compact Macs relied upon. Meanwhile, its 256 colors (upgradeable to thousands with the “Mystic” 68040 upgrade) looked astonishingly sharp on the 512×384-pixel monitor (again, upgradeable to 640×480).

The Color Classic. Grinning child not included.
Photo: Apple

Both of these upgrades reveal something cool about the Color Classic: it was one of the most modified and modifiable Macs in history. While Apple’s early Macs sealed their users off from upgrading them (a strategy which certainly sounds familiar to modern Apple users), the Color Classic could be easily modified.

This allowed for upgrades like swapping out the 10MB RAM and 32-bit 68030 CPU as a way of extending the machine’s life past that which Apple originally intended.

Adding to this user-friendly aspect of the Color Classic was the fact that it allowed for Apple IIe emulation, courtesy of a PDS card.

In all, it contributed to what MacUser magazine wrote in April 1993 was, “In many ways … the compact Mac everyone’s been waiting for since, well, since 1984.”

Perfecting the formula

The Color Classic got even better six months later when — frustratingly for early adopters, but good for the rest of us — Apple introduced the Color Classic II. This machine doubled the CPU speed and RAM capacity of the original, which made it a far sturdier machine before you were forced to break out your upgrade tools.

Sadly, this great sequel was never made available for sale in the United States, although if you do fancy picking up a Color Classic today, this is the one to get your hands on if you can.

Do you remember the Macintosh Color Classic? Leave your comments and recollections below.

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