Everything TAM

Apple’s Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (20AM / TAM)…

Dr Gil Amelio, CEO Apple Computer Inc, 1997
For twenty years, Apple design engineers have been building bridges
between what people dream about and the amazing new technologies that
can take them beyond those dreams
It’s our magnificent obsession
It’s about working and playing and listening and learning and creating
and communicating - sometimes all at the same time
It’s about the delight of doing things faster and better and easier
It’s about turning your back on conventional wisdom and finding new ways
Now, it’s about celebrating the last twenty years, and heralding the next twenty
It’s about the most beautiful thing we’ve ever built
It’s the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh


Almost 20 years ago Apple released the TAM, an over priced, under powered, simply beautiful machine that has created its own mythology within the Apple, and computing world. The TAM may be nothing more than a pretty skin over top of some off-the-shelf parts (oh, and there’s the Bose sound system), but at the same time it is so much more…

Never mind me; just re-arranging the furniture here at AppleTalk til I feel comfy… And beating leon to the TAM punch. :wink:

This thread is here for the TAM owners and fanciers alike to learn, share, and enjoy.

Firstly, I’d suggest checking out the [TAM’s wiki][1] for a good general overview. Unfortunately it would appear that the TAM’s tech-spec page has now been archived by Apple… but I’m sure someone will track them down on the Wayback Machine one day. That happens, you know…

Of major interest, is the fact that TAMs are popping up less and less frequently on sites like eBay. The only one I have seen for some time was from Switzerland, and sold for around AU$1,015, with an estimate of AU$100 postage quoted. That machine had a Sonnet G3 upgrade, but from what I could tell, no boxes.

I guess on the bright side, I can finally stop obsessing about the TAM’s NTSC tv card… seems getting a PAL card would have no point now - there’s no analogue TV! :smile:



Great to see this thread here!

It was only ever a matter of time… :slight_smile:

9 months into our new house and plans to unbox my TAM once more, and she’s still hiding away… In my defence, the pending arrival of unexpected baby#3 has thrown things into confusion! Nonetheless now that we’ve determined that my office is staying where it is, things may move forward again…

I’d never even seen TAM, so thanks for that post and pic. It looks beautiful :slight_smile:

Once upon a time there was a nerdy 20 year old who grinned from ear to ear on the odd occasion that he was able to show off his TAM, to Mac or non-Mac people alike… because he just adored the look on people’s faces when they saw it… when they always - always walked round to the side of the machine just to check that their eyes weren’t deceiving them - yes, it really is just a couple of inches thick…

(I know… the modern iMac beats the pants off the TAM in that regard… But the TAM did it first!)

One of Jonny Ive’s first major contributions at Apple… Metallic green/gold/anamorphic paint… cloth speaker covers… leather palm rests… probably the first desktop with a touchpad… The TAM will forever be my favourite Macintosh computer, even if it’s usefulness in today’s world is somewhat limited…

(Not my TAM, sadly…)

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When was it made? I had never even seen it on a shop shelf anywhere. Then again, I diverted from Mac between my PLus and my 2003 eMac.

It was released March 1997 with a retail price of US$7,499, and only available in USA, UK, few Euro countries, and Japan.

Only 12,000 were manufactured, 399 held for spare parts, so 11,701 released. 20 came to Apple AU, with a few given away in competitions, 1 was on display at Apple HQ in Sydney for a while, and best as I know, the rest were used by Apple AU execs.

Failing sales saw the price cut to about US$3500 half way through its release cycle (with high-end PowerBooks being offered for free to early adopters who complained about paying full price) before the TAM was discontinued March 1998.

Reportedly Steve Jobs hated the TAM (representing everything wrong with Apple), and one of his first commands as iCEO was to have them firesaled to US$1,999 at the time of discontinuation.

The remaining TAMs sold out (in the USA at least; from memory firesale prices didn’t apply worldwide) within 2 weeks of the firesale. To get mine, I first had to find a US reseller who would sell to me - Apple resellers aren’t meant to sell CPUs outside their country - and find one who had a TAM in stock. The first one who offered to sell me a TAM said they had one “coming soon”, so I kept looking and secured one through a Beverley Hills store. The “Coming Soon” story was repeated around the US as people heard of the sale and attempted to secure a TAM, only to find out they were all sold out…

There’s a few of us here on… AppleTalk… who own TAMs. I’d love to find out though what happened to the original 20…

Thanks for that history. Expensive, even at the firesale. I might have admired but I would never have bought one. Still, its good to hear about it all.

At the firesale price, um… it was still pretty darn expensive, but put it into a price range that matched its specifications - ie around a PowerMac 6500. Including freight and import duties, mine cost around AU$4,400… I only considered buying because my LCIII was on its last legs, and the LCIII’s 1st replacement - a 2nd hand Q840av, died a month after I bought it… So I was back in the market. I was literally about to buy a 2nd hand PM8600AV for about $3,000… thus couldn’t resist the TAM at US$1999. Hadn’t even thought about import taxes jacking that price up… and freight was about US$300…

Honestly though - as noted, favourite Mac, and no regrets… Just need to get her in service again and I’ll be a happy boy again.


Guys…does anybody know of a creative techie who could pimp out my old TAM with a new screen and circuitry to run the newer Mac OS software. I love listening to music on the Bose speakers, but it’s such a cool machine, I’d like to use it on my desktop and run more current software. Thanks in advance for any ideas!

@ProfTK It seems sacrilegious to do that to one! A bit like those people who put aircon and auto gearboxes in Aston Martin DB5s! :wink:

Mine will be staying stock. :smiley:

Man they were great. Loved the video in - even in those days I used my computer as a TV! :smile:

Thanks for the reminisce!

Firstly… I’d suggest putting the TAM in pride of place somewhere, hooked up to a digital set top box to be a TV, USB PCI card to add Wifi via dongle, and maybe an Airport Express to play your iTunes library…

Failing all that, and knowing resale will… Well… May or May not be affected…
I imagine you could use the insides of a 12" MacBook, as screen size will be your main issue. (And I’ve no idea whether you can easily change the screen on an existing setup…)

Of course… $2k… might have to find a cheaper option considering you’ll be wrecking it.

If you check Youtube I’m sure you’ll find vids of pimped TAMs… Maybe even How Tos. (Err… inc my “opening” vid… )

I had a VCR hooked up to my TAM to watch videos at will, and later even cable tv via the VCR… Always wanted a PAL tv tuner instead of the NTSC one… Moot point now given no more analogue signals…

Thanks, guys!

There is a “complete” TAM on eBay at the moment… USA based… asking US$3,500… I’m not sure if he’s dreaming or not these days…


AND - one in the UK as well!


This one’s more realistically priced, starting at £600…

AND - I must be dreaming… a 3rd TAM on eBay right now:


Another USA based one, but not as complete as the first… priced at US$1200.

I guess the question is … how collectable are they. I want to believe mine has appreciated since I bought it for $1500 10 years ago! :wink:

I would say that they haven’t really moved much. All up mine has $1400 invested into it when I purchased it in 2007. There has been one on eBay in Australia that I can remember in the past 5 years and the seller had trouble getting $1000 for it. There just isn’t anyone around these days that appreciates the TAM for what it is and wants to spend that kind of money. With the AUD quite low at the moment, it makes replacing a TAM in Australia a costly affair (I have mine insured, but I think I’ll have to up the value now).

I’ve recently fallen out of love with my TAM as it has the speaker buzz issue. I’ve pulled apart the subwoofer to clean the contacts and it doesn’t seem to help. She’s just a shelf queen now as I cant use it for anything because the buzz/whine is so bad.

The things you forget…

leon, seeing your TAM has been sent to the naughty corner, I thought I’d dig through my archives, as I was sure my co-US$1999 TAM owner from the States, Asa, had once emailed me a “How To” to fix the buzz… (He was just a young lad, but went on to become an Apple Technician…)

Whilst I found the MP3 that he recorded of his TAM buzzing, I couldn’t find the How-To… What I did find that astounded me - At some point in time, 1998-99 I’m guessing, I obviously had created a webpage for TAM owners to provide details about their TAM (ie serial number, whether or not it buzzes). I actually had 0.11% of the TAM population registered! :slight_smile: (Yes, a whole 13 people…) (including 1 Aussie (Adrian C…) and a Kiwi…)

Probably an obvious question, but have you cleaned the prongs in the umbilical connection?

Yes umbilical was first thing I checked and mines pretty good.

I recently came across this fix http://www.vintagemacmuseum.com/tam-bose-buzz-fix/

I did the large white connector in mine but didn’t do the red/green speaker cables/blades.
Will pull mine apart again and check these.

There are 2 “mint condition” TAMS with boxes on eBay, finishing over the next 2 days, both priced over US$3000.

My wife’s comment when she saw them… “Is that what they’re worth? When are you selling yours?”

I compromised… agreeing to sell my 2004 eMac… though I see eMacs, with boxes, sell for about $10… Couldn’t even give it away to my kids childcare/school…

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