Friday, November 19, 2010

Goodbye, Elsie (LC)

I recently cleared the garage and among other old things said goodbye to my first Mac, the LC model which I had since 1991. It was part of an editorial desk-top publishing system within a joint US-Russian publishing venture and written off after the project was finished.  

I wrote, translated and played chess on Elsie until 2005, it served as a back-up, or rather fall-back machine, to my other Macs. The last upgrade I managed to do on it was to OS 7.5. My son learned to type and use computer and play chess with her.

Naturally, I've developed a sentimental attachment to Elsie and it was sad to part, but all things must past.

The story of LC reflects the dramatic turns in the history of Apple after Steve Jobs left the company in 1985. This is what the Wikipedia article says:

After Apple co-founder Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985, product development was handed to Jean-Louis Gassée, formerly manager of Apple France. Gassée consistently pushed the Apple product line in two directions, towards more "openness" in terms of expandability and interoperability, and towards higher price. 
This policy led to a series of ever more expensive computers. This was in spite of strenuous objections within the company, and when a group at Claris started a low-end Mac project called "Drama", Gassée actively killed it. By the 1990, with sales slumping, arguments broke out over whether or not the high-right goal should be maintained. In the end, Gassée was forced from the company and Michael Spindler was given his position, with the job of producing a low-cost series of machines. The result was the Macintosh Classic, Macintosh IIsi, and the LC.
'LC hit a sweet spot and was a strong seller.'
The original LC was an attempt at an affordable, modular, color-capable Macintosh. Essentially a slotless Macintosh II in a cut-down case, when compared with earlier Macs Apple cut some corners on performance and features in order to keep the price down. Nevertheless, the machine hit a sweet spot and was a strong seller. In 1991 was replaced by the LC II, which replaced the LC's 68020 processor with a 68030. It retained the original LC's 16-bit system bus however, making its performance roughly the same as the earlier model. The main benefit of the 030 processor was the ability to use System 7's virtual memory feature. In spite of this, the LC II sold even better than the LC.
The success of the LC II spawned a whole series of LC models, most of which later were sold both with the LC name to the education world and to consumers via traditional Apple dealers, and as Performa to the consumer market via electronics stores, and department stores such as Sears. (For example, the LC 475 was also known as the Performa 475.) The last official "LC" was the Power Macintosh 5200/75 LC, which was released in 1995 and discontinued in 1996. The LC 580 was notable for being the last desktop Motorola 68k-based Macintosh of any kind. All subsequent Macintoshes used PowerPC processors and, later, Intel processors.


  1. The Apple ][ card one could buy for the LC line was the precise reason our family upgraded from our Apple ][c to Mac, instead of to DOS. We've been Mac ever since.

  2. thanks for sharing this, Eric


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