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Power Macintosh, later Power Mac, is a line of Apple Macintosh workstation-class personal computers based on various models of PowerPC microprocessors that were developed, marketed, and supported by Apple Inc. from March 1994 until August 2006. The first models were the Power Macintosh 6100, 7100, and 8100, which offered speeds ranging from 60 to 110 MHz. These machines replaced Apple's Quadra series of personal computers, and were housed in cases very similar to systems sold by Apple up to that point. The Power Mac went on to become the mainstay of Apple's top-end offerings for twelve years, through a succession of case designs, four major generations of PowerPC chips, and a great deal of press coverage, design accolades, and technical controversy. In August 2006, the Power Mac's retirement was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference by Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller, making way for its Intel-based replacement, the Mac Pro.
Old World ROM
- Power Macintosh 4400/160, 200 (PC)
- Power Macintosh 5200/75 LC
- Power Macintosh 5260/100, 120
- Power Macintosh 5300/100 LC
- Power Macintosh 5400/120, 180, 200
- Power Macintosh 5500/225, 250
- Power Macintosh 6100/60 (PC), 60AV, 66 (PC), 66AV
- Power Macintosh 6200/75
- Power Macintosh 6300/120
- Power Macintosh 6400/180, 200
- Power Macintosh 6500/225, 250, 275, 300
- Power Macintosh 7100/66, 66AV, 80, 80AV
- Power Macintosh 7200/75, 90, 120 (PC), 200 (PC)
- Power Macintosh 7300/166, 180 (PC), 200
- Power Macintosh 7500/100
- Power Macintosh 7600/120, 132, 200
- Power Macintosh 8100/80, 80AV, 100, 100AV, 110, 110AV
- Power Macintosh 8115/110
- Power Macintosh 8200/100, 120
- Power Macintosh 8500/120, 132, 150, 180
- Power Macintosh 8515/120
- Power Macintosh 8600/200, 250, 300
- Power Macintosh 9500/120, 132, 150, 180MP, 200
- Power Macintosh 9515/132
- Power Macintosh 9600/200, 200MP, 233, 300, 350
- Power Macintosh G3 (beige)/233, 266, 300, 333
Timeline of Old World ROM Power Macintosh models
New World ROM
The following are recent Power Mac lines based on the New World ROM.
Timeline of New World ROM Power Macintosh models
Processor and software
The ROM and Mac OS operating system released with the new Power Mac machines included an Mac 68K emulator to enable programs written for Motorola 68k series CPUs, including nearly all prior Mac software, to run without changes. (A similar scheme is employed to run 68K software on modern x86 Alpha Microsystems machines.) As the Power Mac was originally intended to be a part of the high end of Apple's product line, for a number of years the company continued to offer less expensive 68k-based computers alongside the more expensive Power Mac lineup. However, for many of these so-called 68K transition Macs, Apple offered an upgrade path in the form of a PowerPC Macintosh Processor Upgrade Card and aggressively marketed it to assure a wary consumer of their investment. In April 1996, Apple discontinued the Macintosh LC 580 (released in 1995), the last remaining desktop model of the 68k-based Macintosh line. The PowerBook 190cs, the last 68k-based PowerBook, was discontinued in October 1996. All subsequent Macintosh computers would be based on PowerPC processors until January 2006, when Apple switched to Intel processors. (In 2005, Apple released an Intel-based Power Mac development system to Apple developers at WWDC.)
All Power Macs prior to 1997 used PowerPC 60x-series processors, and 4-digit model numbers (e.g. Power Mac 8600). In 1997 the first third-generation ("G3") Power Macintosh was introduced, using the PowerPC 750 processor. From this model onward, Apple no longer used a numbering scheme to identify their Power Mac models, but instead referred to them by their PowerPC processor generation number (i.e. G3, G4, and G5). Later models based on the same generation of PowerPC processor relied on descriptive characteristics to differentiate them, e.g. the color scheme ("Power Macintosh G3 – Blue and White") or a technical feature of a particular model ("Power Mac G4 – Gigabit Ethernet"). This same identification scheme was used in the iMac, PowerBook, and iBook lines of Macintosh computers.
The marketing name was changed from Power Macintosh to Power Mac with the introduction of the G4 models, meaning all G3 and earlier models are referred to as "Power Macintosh", while all G4 and G5 models are "Power Mac's". Not all Apple documentation follows this rule, but the vast majority does.
The Power Mac brand name was used for Apple's high-end tower style computers, targeted primarily at businesses and creative professionals, in differentiation to their more compact "iMac" line (intended for home use) and the "eMac" line (for the education markets). They were usually equipped with Apple's newest technologies, and commanded the highest prices among Apple desktop models. Some Power Mac G4 and G5 models were offered in dual-processor configurations.
Prior to the Power Mac name change, certain Power Macintosh models were otherwise identical to their lower-cost re-branded siblings sold as the Macintosh LC and Macintosh Performa, as well as the dedicated Apple Workgroup Server and Macintosh Server G3 & G4 lines. Other past Macintosh lines which used PowerPC processors include the PowerBook 5300 and later models, iMac, iBook and Xserve as well as the Apple Network Server, which was not technically a Macintosh.
The Intel-based successor of the Power Mac is the Mac Pro, in line with the renaming of Apple's professional notebooks from PowerBook to MacBook Pro. The successor to the All-In-One Power Macintosh models (5x00 series), the last of which was the Power Macintosh G3 All-In-One, was succeeded by the iMac, which kicked off Apple's renaissance in the early 21st century and has persisted through the Intel transition to the present.
Advertising and marketing
Apple introduced the Power Mac series of high-end personal computers aimed at businesses and creative professionals in 1994 with an advertising campaign consisting of several television commercials and print ads. The television commercials used the slogan "The Future Is Better Than You Expected", featuring the first three Power Macintosh computers to showcase special features such as networking and MS-DOS compatibility.