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"My iMac landing."

My iMac Landing - August 15, 1998
I just got my new iMac. I pre-ordered the unit through a local dealer - Computer System's Centre in Toronto - for $1899 Canadian. I put it through its paces for several hours. Here's how it went:

3:30 - Arrive at dealer. There are iMacs everywhere, and lineups behind the demo units. I can't help but check through the excellent software selection, and talk with a couple customers. They've also got the new Studio display out - does it ever look sharp; however the base doesn't seem as solid as it could be. All the iMac T-shirts were already given away by noon. The very helpful salespeople have my pre-ordered iMac waiting for me, and I'm in a cab back to the office.

5:12 - Arrive to office, setup is a breeze (less than 10 minutes):

The packaging, like the iMac itself is gorgeous, iMacs on two sides, and happy people faces on the other two. You open it open it up, and there's a large colour sealed box with a sticker across it saying, "Security Seal - To be opened by purchaser only". This is probably where five lucky people will find the golden tickets to receive free full system upgrades for five years [not any more - Ed].

Setup in less than 10 minutes: plug in one power cord, ethernet, keyboard and mouse. There's holographic stickers on the ports and on the bottom of the keyboard and mouse. Press the power button on the keyboard, and boots up in under 40 seconds. Looking at the included software on CD - most of it is already installed. Claris Works 5 is a good all round office package that will fully serve the needs of most SOHO business, and home users. Optionally, you can get $100 back if you purchase Office 98, as there's a coupon inside for it.

The display is incredibly sharp, with a refresh rate of 117Mhz at the lowest resolution, and 95 MHz at the 800x600 resolution. It handles 16 bit colour at the 1024x768 resolution. Switching resolutions on the fly worked flawlessly, and the applications reconfigured their window sizes appropriately after the switches.

In the Desktop Pictures Control Panel, I've selected the "Golden Poppy" screen, and it's colour coordinated with the Bondi Blue of the case.

Within the ten minutes setup I didn't yet opt to setup an Internet connection, as I've got an Ethernet crossover cable running to an old 90Mhz 7200 which has got a ZIP drive connected to the SCSI port. I'll be using it to transfer over all my files, but I don't expect that'll go too quickly, as data reads from ZIP disks are notoriously slow. I can't help wishing it were next month so I could be using the USB ZIP Disk from Iomega, but the salesman told me they'd be in "by the time school starts".

5:30 pm-

Inserted first ZIP disk into the 7200, selected the volume from the iMac's Chooser, and there it is on my desktop. I created a temporary folder on the massive hard disk (4Gb), and began the process of transferring over all my existing data that I previously backed up from my PowerBook 520c.

When Apple said that the 233Mhz G3 chip was faster than a 400Mhz PII, I had my doubts, but decided to defer judgment until I actually tried the machine. I must say this is one fast puppy. It keeps astounding me by completing tasks hardly an instant after I've clicked an icon.

I'm typing this up in the new Claris Works, while the background network copy reports that there are 6 minutes left to transfer 62.8 of 77.9 MB done onto my hard disk "Tinkadel" -- I brought the machine to test on the company network for the weekend, and there's nobody else here loading the net.

3 minutes left, with 115 files left, 69.5 of 77.9 MB...

Now, here comes a test. I've always been impressed by the fact that the Macintosh is the only computer I can operate usefully for a length of time without a keyboard and only a mouse connected. Now I've got the CD player going, and am in the middle of a file transfer over ethernet. I have run out of desk space with both an SGI R5000, the iMac, a cup of earl grey, two mouse pads, and two keyboards. USB is supposed to be hot-swappable, so let's go - unplug mouse, then keyboard - transfers still running - okay, is the mouse acceleration going to slow down when I jack back in? - working the same speed. Good job Apple.

Unmount server (ZIP disk volume on remote machine) -> 1 click (drag to trash); doc-martin net over to the 7200, unmount ZIP server volume (1 more drag to trash). The other machine - which is running 7.5.2 and Japanese Language Kit 1.2 for our Japanese translator had shut down the monitor to save power, but had maintained ethernet transfers.

Inserted another ZIP disk - it mounted automatically and showed up as a server volume on the desktop. I didn't have to click the mouse or anything for it to mount the disk and make it appear on the desktop, it knew automatically from the disk insertion what to do.

Back on the iMac, I need to mount ZIP disk as server, so APPLE > CHOOSER > APPLESHARE icon > list of servers shows up, click "Guelph", click OK (or hit ENTER), asks me my name and password, I have to type in a name. Normally, I'd use the shareware utility POPCHAR to type in keyboard characters from a pop-up menu keyboard in the top corner of the screen, but I'd have to drag the file out of the folder into the Extensions folder and restart, but now I've got to plug the USB keyboard back into Port 2 on the computer - and the cables are neatly tucked away behind a small door. Continue by typing in my name,

hit Return, and there it is in a list of drives attached to the machine. Click twice on the name, and it's on my desktop (there was an option beside the name in case I wanted to remount automatically each time on booted up). Command-W to close the Server List window (always works with any window in every application). I drag the icon that appeared on my desktop to the file window and we're copying over another ZIP volume:

6:14 pm -

preparing to copy 1325 files, estimated time remaining is "About an hour". Pop down the disclosure triangle, and it says 4.2 MB of 89.9 MB. While this is going on, I've inserted an audio CD, and it started playing automatically. There was no need to install or configure the CD drive - it just worked. The second volume of ZIP disk is loading up in less than an hour and 18 minutes. Mind you I've made a cup of tea, ate something, took an IndyCam photo, and typed up this report in Claris Works during this time as well.

The new Claris Works 5 integrates all the functions you could ever need in a nice simple format, yet still provides all the tools and integrated drag & drop support with the rest of the Macintosh environment -- one reminiscent of a planet with better designers. It is Steve's planet. We've had visitors from there before, starting with the original 128k Mac which had a full windows interface with no command line running off a single 800k floppy disk 11 years before Windows 95 took 16Mb to do the same thing.

About the mouse - it is small, but not extraordinarily so. It doesn't light up. I must applaud Apple for having the courage to maintain a one button mouse. It falls into line with the design principle of "make everything as simple as possible but still capable of performing every function". This is the difference between a feature oriented OS like Windows, and a well designed and thought out interface like the MacOS. Simply adding an extra mouse button every time a new feature is required is somewhat shortsighted, and adds another layer of complexity for the user by multiplying the number of combinations by an order of magnitude for each extra button added. Eventually, you get all sorts of extra buttons which can't be eliminated because they have become enshrined, and you become unable to simplify your interface without sacrificing backwards compatibility. The Wintel platform is similarly crippled with having to maintain all sorts of legacy instructions in the PII processor, whereas the streamlined design of the PowerPC has given it the ability to do more with less transistors. The MacOS is more elegant in its implementation, for example, in something as basic as how Menus are handled. The entire user experience is simplified by providing one menu bar, and not ten (!).

6:48 - 65 files remaining to be copied, 88.3Mb copied, "About a minute" 6:49 - done. on to the third and final volume.

7:00 - The transfers are still going, and the Beatles Anthology Disc is done, so drag the CD to the trash, and it ejects - well kind of, there's no more power eject like in the former Macintoshes on the CD Drive, but it looks like its modeled after the PowerBook CD Drives, which makes me wonder if they're going to make this hot-swappable like the PowerBook - maybe that's the reason for the last minute design change? If Apple replaced the CD with a DVD drive, this would become one hot little DVD TV with a mouse. Add fast ethernet instead of cable and QuickTime streaming technology - hmmm... Anyhow, in with a new CD - it automatically starts playing, as if the unit were a dedicated AV stereo. I've got my TV, VCR, CD Stereo all plugged into a central Power Amplifier, so why not the new AV unit? The built in surround speakers on the iMac finally bring a standard feature into the box, but they're still no match for a pair of LINN Keilidhs, so in it goes - iMac, my next AV appliance, right next to VCR1.


7:30 -

So, with a slow transfer off a ZIP over 10Base Ethernet, I've managed to completely customize my installation (including the same Kaleidoscope colour scheme which controls the appearance of all windows, buttons, and menus in use throughout the system - this is something Windows isn't standardized to do to the extent as the Mac can). I've been listening to CDs through the built in stereo sound card, mounting servers and transferring over Ethernet while running a full Office Suite (Claris Works), and although it did give me a warning that the Desktop file couldn't be copied from the ZIP disk because it was in use, but other than that, not one crash or error message. My entire operating environment - windows, colours, fonts, desk accessories, legacy files, window positions and icons of every window on my hard disk all carry over. All is as it was, and that is a testament to Apple's foresight in creating their technologies.

There is a good feeling in this transfer, because I have Journal files, Illustrator Logos, Audio samples, Photoshop Images, a few Databases and several thousand file downloads going back to 1985 - the year I first got my own modem. Most of these files have spaces and both upper and lowercase in their filenames, and every single one of them has retained their custom colour icon and Type/Creator data since they were made. Endless amounts of legacy Windows files however are still rendered cryptic by the historical 8.3 file system limitations of DOS. The Mac stores the creator and type in the directory structure, making it unnecessary to have a work-around mechanism like the Windows Registry - which is sure to be lost at some point, and all your files lose important pieces of info that need to be associated with them. Why didn't Microsoft put this into their new file system when they put long names into the operating system. Probably for the same reason their Windows 95 operating system needed an upgrade in '98 to be ready for the year 2000, while my original 1984 Macintosh can handle dates till the year 29940. At least Apple file system designers knew the century was going to end. :-\

7:45 - Having purchased an extra 32Mb of RAM, I wondered how difficult it would be to install. It turned out to be relatively painless. Remove one screw, pop down the back hatch, remove two more retaining screw, and the entire logic board assembly just slides out. There's a small daughter card with the CPU and RAM, you ground yourself, and snap in the memory SIMM (which is very small, being SDRAM - the same type as used in the notebooks). Put it all back together, power up the

machine, and the "About this Computer..." shows the full 64Mb are there.

I couldn't help noticing several things while the machine was apart:

  1. There's a small place left on the logic board for a 20pin connector beside the sound chip - it would be the right size for an internal floppy disk connector. [we reported success with this on our iMac Special Report this past week]

  2. There's an empty expansion connector labeled "Mezzanine" that looks very similar to the one on the new PowerBooks - could this be to add a DVD MPEG decoder in the future? They've already announced a kit for the PowerBooks, and it would fit in with the DVD/appliance nature of the product. [also covered by our iMac Special Report]

  3. The video connects to the logic assembly via a standard D-connector. I'd imagine that if you wanted to bypass the built-in display, you just could plug in any other monitor and just run the cable out the back port.

8:12 - I wanted to test how easy it was to hook into our company's intranet with the iMac. I unplugged the Ethernet crossover cable from the 7200, plugged in a regular RJ-45 connection to our net, opened the TCP/IP control panel (Apple Menu > Control Panels > TCP/IP), entered the IP, Router, Subnet Mask, and Name server address, closed window, and click "Save" in response to the dialogue. Launched Fetch 3.0 (my former preferences came over from the notebook), and was accessing my SGI hard disk in under 40 seconds. Not a single hiccup - it just worked. Another 15 seconds confirmed connection to the two Postscript laser printers, and had made desktop printer icons for them. Test printout of an old file from Quark worked flawlessly. Launching Netscape Navigator 4.0 in less than 2 seconds, asks me for my company e-mail address, and I'm browsing the web. It defaults to display an Apple search page on the Excite search engine. Over to, and I listened to the iMac radio commercials. QuickTime 3 was already installed, so I didn't need to do anything but click on the little sound icon on the web page. Used Fetch to drag and drop over my Netscape Bookmarks from the SGI, quit Netscape, dropped new bookmarks into Preferences folder, relaunched Netscape, and bookmarks were there. Went to a site, clicked on a pdf file, it opened automatically in the preinstalled Acrobat 3. A 387k file downloaded in 25 seconds, including opening Acrobat Reader - not bad.


9:30 -

I'm going to copy another few ZIP volumes to the iMac. This time I'm first going to transfer to the 7200's internal drive so I can test

out the disk-to-disk transfer speeds. The copied folder is 84.6Mb with

723 items. Start time: 9:44 - Finish time: 9:57 - 13 minutes. That's 6.5Mb per minute. I'm going to try a few more of my transferred apps, and download some files off the web using the fast T1 connection.

12:30 -

Time to conclude the testing for today. During my time breaking in this new machine today, I've also used ResEdit to customize the keyboard menu shortcuts in Photoshop, played the new MAME 0.33 arcade emulator, installed custom System Sounds, added my old Dvorak keyboard layout file and switched over the layout, used my old Photoshop to customize the Startup Screen for the 800x600 monitor resolution's size.

The machine crashed twice with a Type 10 error when I tried to copy over a corrupted sound file from the old System 7.6 into the new System file, but upon restart, both files were okay, and trying the copy a second time (minus the offending file) worked fine. I only restarted the machine one other time, and that was to reload all the Control Panels and Extensions I put in from my old System Folder.

My one loss - Now Menus. I dearly hope they can revive this one, I loved the ability to dynamically assign menu function keys on the fly to any application's menus. I hear that Power On software ( is preparing a new version, so this should be fixed soon.

A few comments on the lack of a floppy drive: By eliminating the unreliable old floppy technology, Apple is once again showing their foresight like they did when they were the first company to use 3.5" floppy disks on the original Mac back in '84. By eliminating the floppy drive, they're the first to move from Disk-centric paradigm to a Net-centric paradigm - they are recognizing the reality of the future in this first disk-less consumer model. If a file is small enough to fit on a floppy, then it is small enough to email.

I can't describe how pleased I am with the performance and finesse of this unit. Apple has done a first class job in truly delivering the Lite consumer machine. I'm off to finish some work on my new iMac, and I couldn't be happier. :-)

Best Regards, John Penner (


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