Mourning The Speed Dump (2/15/00)

It was perhaps the most stunning innovation ever to emerge from Apple's labs, but alas, it proved not to be sustainable. In mid-October of last year, Apple unveiled the Great G4 Speed Dump, in which the company thought way "outside the box." Their scientists had managed to buck a decades-long industry paradigm-- "computers get faster and cheaper"-- and instead found a way to make the Power Macintosh G4 both slower and more expensive. The originally-announced G4 lineup, running at 400, 450, and 500 MHz, was reduced to three systems running instead at 350, 400, and 450 MHz-- and here's the genius part: the prices stayed the same, thus effectively decreasing the price/performance of each system. The rest of the industry scrambled to catch up, but never did; strictly speaking, Apple is still the only company innovative enough to have reversed the price/performance trend successfully.

But sadly, we're now at the end of an era; the bubble has burst, as Apple was unable to maintain its incredible feat. Today the company admitted defeat, as Steve Jobs shamefacedly rolled out the new, faster G4 systems-- running at the originally-announced speeds of 400, 450, and 500 MHz. With a tear in his eye, Uncle Steve admitted that not only are the new machines faster than their speed-dumped predecessors, but, shockingly, they're also the same price. AtAT's nigh-infallible sources revealed that the faster G4s were announced first in Japan because Steve originally meant to commit hara kiri ritual suicide on stage to save face in light of this failure, but due to the lack of a webcast, that act was dropped from the keynote agenda.

Those of you who want a speed-dumped G4, you'd better act fast; our understanding is that the channel's run quite dry, and those slower systems are sure to be collector's items in no time, as a monument to Apple's greatest-- albeit temporary-- achievement. Unless you're lucky enough to scrounge one of last week's models, you may be forced to accept a new, faster system at the same price. According to the Apple Store, the faster machines have an estimated delivery time of only three days, which, if true, also means that Steve's long-standing tradition of announcing "immediate availability" of products that actually won't ship for weeks or months has also come to an unceremonious end. The poor guy... he just can't catch a break.

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The above scene was taken from the 2/15/00 episode:

February 15, 2000: Pismo's here at last, with last year's look but a slew of new gadgets under the hood. Meanwhile, the iBook gains a Graphite sibling for those who don't dig Blueberry or Tangerine, and Apple admits defeat at last, finally unveiling faster G4s...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2098: Late But Running Fast (2/15/00)   The rumors sites which have been holding their collective breath until Macworld Expo Tokyo can now heave a mighty sigh of relief; Steve has left the building, and he left behind a slew of new Apple hardware in his wake...

  • 2099: Groovy In Graphite (2/15/00)   Manly men rejoice! Now you, too, can own an iBook without stirring up that pesky insecurity in your own masculinity. To the surprise of many and the delight of John Dvorak wannabes the world over, Apple announced the arrival of the iBook Special Edition, available in "stunning Graphite."...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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