Strings For Everyone (10/6/99)
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So Apple's finally got a sub-$1000 home computer: the new iMac, available now (for our viewers who aren't fluent in Jobsian, that means "in three weeks or so") for just $999. In fact, if you're the type that thrives on marketingspeak, you could even call the iMac a $599 computer; as noted by Jobs at Tuesday's unveiling and in an Apple press release, customers who buy an iMac at CompUSA or J & R ComputerWorld can sign up for three years of CompuServe Internet service get a $400 rebate. This marks the iMac's entry into the wonderful world of "Cheap Computers With Strings Attached." In fact, this particular rebate deal was already in effect for buyers of PCs made by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and eMachines.

As for that inevitable extension of the whole "Cheap Computer" concept known as the "Free PC," well, the iMac's slated to go there, too, but it's just taking a little while. Perhaps you recall FreeMac.com, the outfit who wants to "give away" a million iMacs to consumers who fit their "profile." The last we'd heard from them was a late-August interview published in About This Particular Macintosh, in which FreeMac's Business Development Officer Chuck Fox revealed that seed capital had been secured, and the company expected to start letting people apply for a free iMac by the middle of September. Well, September came and went, and FreeMac's web site still hasn't changed.

But keep your hat on, because MacCentral now reports that FreeMac is almost ready to go. The company's CEO, Jonathan Strum, recently contacted at least some of the half-million people who requested more information, indicating that FreeMac is in the "final stages of product distribution" and that sign-ups will start "soon." Hey, we're just glad that FreeMac didn't vanish off the face of the planet, like a previous "free iMac" venture did. So whether you want your iMac now and "Cheap" or later and "Free," it sounds like there will be enough iMacs-with-strings-attached for everyone. We don't mean to put a damper on anything; our only advice is that, before you commit to anything, you make sure the strings are ones you can live with, and are worth the money you'll save. We're sure that there are lots of people for whom the strings will be completely and totally worth it; we just don't want anyone to have any regrets, okay?


 
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The above scene was taken from the 10/6/99 episode:

October 6, 1999: iMacs are just $599 with CompuServe strings attached, while FreeMac.com prepares to give away a million "free" iMacs as well. Meanwhile, another longtime Mac critic publicly ponders switching to an iMac due to Windows-induced trauma, and Microsoft's dirty little secret comes to light: their annual report was written on a Mac...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1828: All Signs Point To Yes (10/6/99)   Oh, sure, you may laugh at the scary-looking folks who wander around downtown carrying signs that say "The End Is Nigh." Heck, we laugh at them too, because who says "nigh" anymore? But we're no longer convinced that the whole world-is-gonna-end-on-January-1st-2000 fad is such a crazy idea anymore...

  • 1829: Get Your Irony Here (10/6/99)   There's something that's just really gratifying about instances in which Apple's competitors are discovered to have used Apple products in the course of company business. Usually it's little things that are perfectly understandable, like finding that the animated GIFs on Microsoft's web site were created with GIFmaker, a Mac-only utility...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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