With Apple just having their 40th year anniversary on Friday, April 1st, we thought it would be interesting to travel to the past and see how their original products compare to the newest, fastest and best products they make today!

Many say that when Steve Jobs announced the first iMac, it revolutionized the way people thought about Apple.  And why shouldn’t it?  Being one of the first companies to release an all-in-one desktop that actually benefitted the average consumer wasn’t a small feat.  So nearly 18 years later, how does the iMac G3 compare to the newest iMac of today?

So I thought I’d start off with a list of specs just so you can immediately see how much technology has improved.

iMac G3iMac G3 Specifications:

  • PowerPC G3 Processor 233MHz
  • Tray loading 24x CD-ROM
  • 4GB IDE Hard Disk Drive
  • 32MB of RAM (expandable to 384MB)
  • 2MB of VRAM (expandable to 4 or 6MB)
  • Ports: Ethernet, USB 1.1, 56k Modem, Stereo Audio I/O


iMac 2015iMac 21.5″ Late 2015  (No Upgrades):

  • 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 Processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz) with 6MB L3 cache
  • 1TB (5400-rpm) Hard Drive
  • 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 Memory (expandable to 16GB)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR5 memory
  • Ports: SDXC card slot, Four USB 3 ports, Two Thunderbolt ports, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet

Comparing the specs above, we see HUGE improvements; of course that can be expected.

Originally the G3 shipped with Mac OS 8.1 and the highest version it could run is Mac OS 10.3 otherwise known as Panther. Mac OS 8It also came with AppleWorks preinstalled which is basically Apple’s office suite, first released in 1985.  It provided the typical services such as a word processor, spreadsheets, and presentations; very much like what we have today with Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.  The iMac late 2015 was shipped with the latest OS, El Capitan and is expected to get many updates as time goes on.

Performance is hard to judge with two computers that are 18 years apart, but both iMacs perform the simple tasks like taking notes without a problem.  However, if you wanted to get into heftier tasks such as video editing, obviously the G3 would struggle, if it could even run a video editing program at all, against the late 2015 iMac.

So after 18 years would the iMac G3 be usable?

Surprisingly, yes. But usable does not equal preferable.

The iMac could still hold its own for listening to music or taking notes. In fact, many schools that used the iMac G3 at one point are just now deciding to purchase an upgrade.  That said, we have come to need so much more from our computers, so there are certainly better choices. What do you think about the future of the iMac? Will we be saying the same thing 18 years from now about our current versions?

Kevin Nether