Science and Tech

Apple launched a hybrid between Macintosh and TV in 1993. It ended up failing miserably

Macintosh Tv 2

While Apple is responsible for wildly successful products like the iPod and iPhone, the Cupertino company has amassed a important list of failures along its history. From the Mac Portable to the Pippin video game console and the social network iTunes Ping.

One of Apple’s lesser-known failures, perhaps because of its short lifespan, was the Macintosh TV. As collected Vectronic’s Apple Worldin 1993, a company very different from the one we know today launched this hybrid between computer and television that was presented as a all in one of 2,079 dollars.

The failed attempt to sell a TV inside a Mac

In the early 1990s, if you needed a TV and a computer, you could buy a 14-inch Sony Trinitron CRT and a Macintosh LC 500. However, Apple thought of releasing a product that combined the best of both worlds to which baptized as Macintosh TV.

It was a device that boasted a shiny black casing, an option still rare for the time, and that was delivered along with a keyboard, mouse and remote control. Inside it lived a 32 MHz Motorola 68030 processor and 5 MB of RAM.

In terms of storage, the Macintosh TV featured a 160MB disk drive and a CD-ROM drive. But that was not all. The essence of the device lay in the screen, which was basically a television 14-inch Sony Trinitron CRT with its corresponding TV tuner. And of course, it also boasted stereo sound.

But this combination of hardware under the same casing failed to win over users, possibly due to its limited capabilities. While its siblings in the Macintosh LC 500 series had 25 MHz processors, the Macintosh TV shipped with a slower bus.

This point greatly penalized the team’s performance. Also, could only be upgraded to 8 MB of memorya major limitation considering that the previously released original LC520 could push the amount of RAM up to 32MB.

Macintosh TV 3

The shortcomings did not end there. The Macintosh TV lacked a DB-15 connector, very popular at the time, for passing video to an external display. And, if that were not enough, could only be used in one mode at a timethat is, as a computer or as a television, and did not have video capture capabilities.

The movement of John Sculley’s Apple, remember that Steve Jobs had left in 1985 to found NeXT, resulted in the manufacture of only 10,000 units of the Macintosh TV and its exit from the market approximately five months after its launch, according to the book Macintosh Switcher’s Guide by Robert Standefer.

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The company, however, knew how to take advantage of that experiment. From what they learned in the development of the Macintosh TV, they later managed to launch new models of the LC 500 series with video tuner cards that, in addition, they could make captures. Starting in 1995, users could use their computers and watch TV at the same time on their Macs.

Images: Ben Boldt (Wikimedia Commons) | 30pin Pictures | Jeff Nelson

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