Home TechnologyGadgets Apple’s Macintosh TV Was A Failure

Apple’s Macintosh TV Was A Failure

by George Mensah

There was Macintosh TV long before Apple’s foray into the streaming world with Apple TV. The device was unique — it was a computer-TV hybrid. It was a Macintosh LC 520 computer with a 14-inch Sony Trinitron CRT and TV tuner card (via Ars Technica). This means that users could use the device as both a computer and a television set via a coax cable connection. It also had a CD-ROM drive, so owners could insert CDs to view on the CRT screen. The Macintosh TV also came with a remote control.

The Macintosh TV cost $2,099 when it was first released. This made it a significant investment for anyone looking to purchase the machine. Those who did would be sorely disappointed, because neither the computer nor the TV functions were up to par, and there was a catch that made purchasing the two-in-one machine worth the price tag when it was released in 1993.

Why the Macintosh TV was less than ideal

First and foremost, the Macintosh TV was a terrible computer. Although it was faster (at 32 MHz) than the previous Performa 520 and LC520, the bus speed was only 16 MHz, which slowed down the entire system. It was also lacking in storage capacity. Even if you increased the RAM from its original 5 MB, you could only get 8 MB, whereas the aforementioned computers could handle up to 36 MB. So it wasn’t that great as a computer.

What about as a television? You could watch in 16-bit color, but in computer mode, it only ran at 8 bits (via Apple Museum). It was pretty standard for a TV, but not worth the price because there was nothing else you could do while watching TV. Because there was no way to minimize TV programs into another window to do other tasks on the computer, you had to choose between the two functions. You couldn’t also record video from the TV; instead, you could only save screenshots as PICT files (via iMore). Finally, for both functional and financial reasons, it would be better to have a TV and a computer separately.


As a result, the Macintosh TV was a flop. It didn’t last long, being phased out in 1995 after only 10,000 units were sold. Although streaming TV shows on your computer are fairly common in today’s world, the Macintosh TV was too far ahead of its time and didn’t provide a good, affordable option that people could actually use. Apple eventually turned this around with the Apple TV device. Unfortunately, the Macintosh TV remains one of Apple’s most egregious failures of all time.

You may also like

Leave a Comment