New Concept in Computer Technology On Sale Saturday

FTLComm - Saskatoon - August 11, 1998

This morning at 9:00 Saskatchewan Apple dealers got to see the new iMac at the Saskatoon Inn. This new computer is a radical departure from computers of the past, largely because of its purposeful design. There has been an assumption that "surely everyone knows what a computer is for" when in fact no one really knows what a computer is, for because they have been designed as a series of compromises with the hope that the machine that gets to the market place and ultimately to someone home, desk or classroom will fit the needs of the purchaser. With the iMac that thinking changed and a machine designed specifically for identified tasks has been made and only time will tell if the target was the right one to be aiming at.

The "i" in the name of this machine is intended to represent "Internet" as this computer is meant to be used on the Internet and as part of an expanding network. With this in mind, it is one of the few computers ever built, aside from the original Macintoshes that came out twelve years ago, that can not be customised. The machine comes with its software, and only its RAM can be altered.

The writing has been on the wall for some time about the floppy disk drive. The current Macintosh has a 3.5" floppy just as did the original Mac, although over the many years of production it has grown in capacity from 400 KB to 1.4MB but in today's world, that is simply to small for most things and so during the past three years we have seen computers using other larger movable storage such as the Iomega Zip drive which can handle 100MB, the Syquest with its 130MB and 220 MB drives and Iomega sold a number of Jaz drives holding 1GB of storage. Most people using the Internet find little use for the old floppy drive as they send files as attachments and if they need to physically have a file in hand, they generally use portable hard drives or a Zip disk, but filling a stack of floppies just seems impractical. Apple eliminated the floppy from its iMac design.

The next shocking change involves input and output from the computer. In the early eighties computers used parallel connectors to connect to printers and other peripheries. Apple abandoned this cumbersome means of handling input and output in 1986 when it delivered all of its computers, the Macintosh, the Apple//gs and the Macintosh II with serial ports. Essentially RS232 ports became the standard for these machines and later Intel based machines began using serial ports for mouse and keyboard connections. From 86 onward Apple also included SCSI ports on all of its Macintosh computers and as an option of the //gs which permitted high speed solid connections for hard drives and imaging equipment like scanners. With the iMac, both of these connections have disappeared and like new Intel (Windows 98) machines, these are replaced with the new Universal Serial Bus (USB) which carries electricity to connected peripheries and in order to use multiple connections requires some form of a hub. The anticipated saving is that in the future manufacturers will produce products like printers, cameras and scanners that will use this standard and these devices will decline in price because of the simplicity of the connection.

Since the iMac is designed to be an Internet computer it comes with an Internet 56K modem, but since cable modems are growing in popularity, the machine also has a built in RJ45 ethernet plug which means the computer is network, as well as Internet ready.

The other features include just what you see in the picture, a 15" multiscan monitor, stereo surround sound speakers, a CD player and its USB mouse and keyboard. The keyboard actually is a USB hub and has two additional ports for other peripheries.

For more on the machine, its software and a picture of the demonstration machine in Saskatoon, check tomorrow's article on the iMac.

These computers are available direct from Apple for $1,299 (US), or from Faster Than Light Communications for $2,095 which includes free delivery, custom software configuration, and transfer of your files and applications from your old computer to the new iMac, if you do not need these services the machine comes to you FOB Tisdale at $1999 (Canadian).