Apple's Fastest Pizza Box - Macintosh LC 475

    Macintosh LC (stands for “color and cheap.”) This Apple Computer product was arguably the most popular and sought-after Macintosh family of personal computers in the early 1990s. The Macintosh LC was originally launched in 1990 and became the first affordable and color Mac. Due to the low price and the fact that it worked without problems software written for Apple II, Macintosh LC has become very popular as a home computer. He also received very great popularity in medical and educational institutions.
    In fact, it became a new and very important step in the transition from the losing popularity of the 68k platform to the establishment of the PowerPC platform, which later became very popular and was used in many Apple computers.


    Macintosh computers, and especially color Macs, starting with the Macintosh II released in 1987, have always been fairly expensive computers. This greatly limited the market for their distribution, since they were not available to most users. The LC series was a kind of breakthrough to the new, for Apple, market - "computers for the home." The engineers from Cupertino tried hard to make a computer with excellent functionality, relatively cheap and very affordable. And after 4 months of sales, it became obvious that the long 2 years and nine months spent on the development of this model will pay off very quickly.

    In order to stay on longer with the success of LC, LC II was released in 1991, in which they put a new processor - instead of LC 68020, the more powerful 68030 was used. LC II was sold even better than the parent model and this success gave rise to a whole range of "LC". The Macintosh LC 580 is the latest computer on the Motorola 68k processor. In the future, PowerPC was used, and a little later, Apple began to work closely with Intel.

    An interesting fact - before the LC 475 model appeared, or as it was also called the Perfoma 475, Apple computers (and their few competitors at that time) were sold only through dealer networks. But the 475th became so popular that it began to sell well even from large stores of household appliances and electronics. This is perhaps one of the first cases of the mass realization that a computer can be truly personal.

    Subsequently, Apple changed the processor and platform to PowerPC, but the new models continued to be called LC, only slightly extended the name - “Power Macintosh LC XXXX” (and “Performance XXXX”). The LC line developed right up to 1998, in which Apple launched the iMac.


    Initially, there were no expansion slots in the LC series of computers, the processor frequency (68020) was only 16 MHz and it worked on a 16-bit data bus (this was one of the main bottlenecks, since the 68020 was a 32-bit CPU). The amount of RAM used was limited - only 10 MB. The video system had its own memory (VRAM) and there was only 256Kb of it, which allowed us to display a picture with a resolution of 512x384 pixels in 8-bit color, although for a 12 "RGB monitor this was very good.

    If desired, any user could “upgrade” their LC and increase VRAM to 512 KB, which would significantly improve video capabilities. With this amount of video memory, it was possible to get an image of 512x384 pixels with 16-bit color or 640x480 pixels with 8-bit color. But such an improvement was not very popular, because pizza boxes were usually bought with a 12 ”Apple monitor, the resolution supported by which was fixed - 512x384 pixels, so this upgrade made almost no sense.
    “Almost” by the fact that the user could use a non-Apple monitor with a resolution of 640x480 or 832x624 pixels with a 256-color display gamut, and the maximum supported resolution was 1152x870, but in the case the user received only 16 colors.
    With the release of the LC-475, it became possible to deliver up to 1 MB of VRAM to get 64k colors at a resolution of 832x624 or 1152x870, but 256 colors or shades of gray.

    Macs almost never complained about their standard monitors. And if you wanted to use a monitor of another manufacturer with an EGA or D-Sub (VGA) connector, then you would have to buy another adapter with custom parameters:

    LC also had several other, no less disappointing features. For example, many programs that were written for other Macs believed that the minimum screen size was 640x480 pixels and simply simply refused to work at 512x384. This annoying annoyance for several years did not haunt Apple developers and technical support, as in advertising materials and at many presentations it was announced that the software was fully compatible with older "industrial" computers.

    In general, the overall performance of the first LCs was a disappointment for many. Basically, because of the narrow bus, since the processor itself could produce significantly better results, but because of the 16-bit bus all its speed and power was simply useless. The same 16 MHz 68020 in the Macintosh II was twice as fast as in the Macintosh LC. This performance loss was also due to the fact that Mac LC, unlike Mac II, did not have a computer memory management unit (MMU) and therefore could not work well with virtual memory.
    In the LC II model, which already used the new 68030 processor in which the MMU was built-in, this problem no longer existed. But even more joy for lovers of powerful computer systems was the appearance of a 32-bit bus, which appeared on the LC III model in 1991.

    But, by mid-1991, Apple budget computers became quite difficult to compete with gaining popularity PCs based on 80386 processors with a frequency of 40 MHz, and it became harder for them to move into the market with the release of the 486th. In order to still maintain the growth in sales and the popularity of its solutions, Apple launches the production of the LC 475 with the 68LC040 processor, which although it worked at a frequency of 25 MHz, but could successfully compete with the 386th in terms of task performance. A little later, the top models Performa 475 and Performa 476 appeared, which worked already at 50 MHz.

    In our museum LC-475 is just with a 25 MHz processor, as evidenced by the latest figures in its name.

    The floppy drive and SCSI hard drive were used as the storage medium in this line of Apple computers.
    Moreover, if the Macintosh LC was able to use only one hard drive, then in older models it was possible to replace FDD with HDD.
    The installed SCSI controller allowed reading from the hard drive at speeds up to 1347 Kb / s, and it could write 1200 Kb / s. Although such speeds almost never could be achieved due to the limitations of the hard drives themselves. The standard speeds for the most common 40 and 80 megabyte models were 919 kB / s for reading and 862 kB / s for writing.

    The Macintosh LC used the standard SCSI-2 drives themselves. It was possible to use discs of any manufacturers (in our case, Quantum). The only limitation, which, however, was bypassed by patching, was the inability to use partitions of more than 2 gigabytes.

    operating system

    The choice of the ideal OS for Macintosh LC lies between two extremes: with MacOS 7.5.5 you get a more or less stable operating system with the ability to work on the Internet, and if you do not need such an opportunity, then you can choose MacOS 7.5, which will save you a lot of space on the hard drive and the occupied RAM. And the lucky owners of the Macintosh LC 475 with the top Motorola 68LC040 processor were able to use MacOS 8.1 after its official release.


    The main desire and purpose of the release of this line of computers for Apple was to get a popular device that would be sold in large quantities and bring good profit. Having done a great job, they managed to get an excellent price / quality ratio and still achieve even greater popularity among lovers of excellent electronics. Despite the fact that the price of the Macintosh LC was very low and many skeptics spoke of the loss-making nature of this project, Apple by the end of 1990 managed to increase its profit by 85%.
    UPD. Thanks to Amon_Sha for fixing grammar errors :)

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