Video shows an iMac G3 that was modified with a touchscreen back in 1999

Video shows an iMac G3 that was modified with a touchscreen back in 1999

The iconic iMac G3 was announced by Steve Jobs almost 26 years ago, on May 6, 1998. For its time, the iMac was considered a revolution in industrial design with its all-in-one construction in translucent plastic. It also ditched technologies like serial ports and floppy disk readers in favor of CD and USB. But did you know that there was an iMac G3 with a touchscreen? Well, sort of.

No, Apple officially never introduced a version of the iMac G3 with a touchscreen. And as far as we know, Apple engineers have never worked on such a project internally. But Elo Touch Solutions, a company specializing in point-of-sale terminals and also an Apple Value Added Reseller, used to modify and sell iMac G3s with a touchscreen.

These iMacs were sold as interactive kiosk machines, so that’s why they had a touchscreen. But we’re not talking about modern touchscreen technology. Instead, the iMac G3 sold by Elo had a system that used acoustic sound waves to determine where the user touched the display.

Interestingly, the technology was also capable of measuring touch pressure years before 3D Touch. The modification was seamless for users, as it didn’t add any layers on top of the iMac’s original CRT panel. Each of these modified iMacs cost $1,599 at the time and they weren’t exactly easy to find.

Last month, YouTuber Michael MJD (via IGN) got his hands on one of ELO’s custom iMac G3 prototypes, and lucky for us, it’s still fully functional. Michael shared a video showing the iMac G3 in action, and it’s impressive to see that the touchscreen worked pretty well for something from 1999.

The machine came with a modified version of Mac OS 8.6 with the appropriate drivers to enable the touchscreen. Users could tap, double-tap, and even drag elements on the screen using their finger. You can see it in action below:

Wrap up

Again, even though this iMac G3 touch screen isn’t official from Apple, it’s still interesting to see such an old computer with such technology – especially since there are still no touchscreen Macs, although rumors suggest that this could change in a few years.

What do you think of the idea of Macs with touch screens? Let us know in the comments section below.

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