Macintosh LC

The Macintosh LC (meaning low-cost color) was Apple Computer's product family of low-end consumer Macintosh personal computers in the early 1990s. The original Macintosh LC was released in 1990 and was the first affordable color-capable Macintosh. Due to its affordability and Apple II compatibility the LC was adopted primarily in the education and home markets. Together with the Mac IIsi, it introduced built-in audio input on the Mac. The "LC" name was subsequently used for a line of low-end Macintosh computers for several years and spanned the 68k to PowerPC transition.


Macintosh computers, especially the color Macs starting with the Macintosh II in 1987, had always been rather expensive computers with large profit margins. The original LC was an attempt at an affordable, modular, color-capable Macintosh. Compared with earlier Macs, Apple cut some corners on performance and features in order to keep the price down.

The Mac LC sold well, and in 1991 was replaced by the LC II, which replaced the LC's 68020 processor with a 68030. The LC II sold even better than the LC and this spawned a whole series of LC models, most of which later were sold both with the LC name to the education world and to consumers via traditional Apple dealers, and as Performa to the consumer market via electronics stores, and department stores such as Sears. (For example, the LC 475 was also known as the Performa 475.) All PowerPC-based LC models were sold as "Power Macintosh xxxx LC" (and as "Performa xxxx"). The LC line lived on until the iMac was released in 1998. The LC 580 was notable for being the last desktop Motorola 68k-based Macintosh of any kind. All subsequent Macintoshes used PowerPC processors and, later, Intel processors.


Notably, the LC used a very small "pizza box" case with no NuBus slots, had a 16 MHz 68020 microprocessor and no floating-point coprocessor running on a 16-bit data bus (a major bottleneck as the 68020 was a 32-bit CPU), a limit of 10Mb RAM and shipped with only 256Kb of VRAM, therefore only supporting a display resolution of 512x384 pixels at 8-bit color on Apple's 12" RGB monitor. The VRAM was upgradeable to 512Kb though, supporting a display resolution of 512x384 pixels at 16-bit color or, on a VGA-compatible display, 640x480 pixels at 8-bit color. Nevertheless, most LCs were purchased with an Apple 12" RGB monitor with a fixed resolution of 512x384 pixels. Many software programs that had been designed for other color Macs assumed that the minimum screen size was 640x480 pixels. As a result, some programs simply would not function correctly on the LC, and for several years software developers had to add support for this smaller screen resolution in order to guarantee that their software would run on LCs. Overall, general performance of the machine was disappointing due to the crippling data bus bottleneck, making it run far slower than it should have been (e.g. the same 16 MHz 68020 based Macintosh II ran almost twice as fast as the Macintosh LC). One difference between the Mac II and the Mac LC is the latter had no socket for a 68851 MMU, therefore it could not take advantage of System 7's virtual memory features. The successor model LC II's 68030 has a built-in MMU. The CPU was the only major change to the LC II; the bus remained 16 bits. A full 32-bit bus had to wait for the LC III successor a year later.

Apple IIe Replacement

Despite the LC's lack of NuBus slots, it did come with a Processor Direct Slot (PDS). This was primarily intended for the Apple IIe Card, which was offered with education models of the LCs. The card allowed the LC to emulate an Apple IIe. The combination of the low-cost color Macintosh and Apple IIe compatibility was intended to encourage the education market's transition from Apple II models to Macintoshes. Despite the LC's minimal video specs with a 12" monitor, any LC that supports the card can be switched into 560x384 resolution for better compatibility with the IIe's 280x192 High-Resolution graphics (essentially doubled).

Other cards, such as CPU accelerators, ethernet and video cards were also made available for the LC's PDS slot.

LC models

"Pizza boxes"

  • Macintosh LC (1990)

Processor: Motorola 68020 Recommended System Software: System Software 6.0.7-Mac OS 7.5.5 Fastest System Software: System Software 6.0.8L

  • Macintosh LC II (1992) — also known as Performa 400, Performa 405, Performa 410, Performa 430

Processor: Motorola 68030 Recommended System Software: System Software 6.0.8L-Mac OS 7.6.1 Fastest System Software: System Software 7.0.1

  • Macintosh LC III (1993) — also known as Performa 450. First LC with 32 bit wide system bus

Processor: Motorola 68030 Recommended System Software: System Software 7.1-Mac OS 7.6.1 Fastest System Software: System Software 7.5

  • Macintosh LC III+ (1993) — also known as Performa 460, Performa 466, Performa 467
  • Macintosh LC 475 (1993) — base on the LC III and officially sold as Quadra 605, also known as Performa 475, Performa 476. First 68040-based LC.


Standard desktop

  • Macintosh LC 630 (1994) — an LC in name only, it was officially sold as Quadra 630, also known as Performa 630, Performa 630CD, Performa 631CD, Performa 635CD, Performa 636, Performa 636CD, Performa 637CD, Performa 638CD, Performa 640CD


680x0 Models
Component LC LC II Color Classic† LC III LC 520† Color Classic II† LC 475 Macintosh TV† LC III+ LC 550† LC 575† LC 630 LC 580
Released/Discontinued October, 1990/ March, 1992 March, 1992/ March, 1993 February, 1993/ May, 1994 February, 1993/ February, 1994 June, 1993/ February, 1994 October, 1993/ February, 1994 October, 1993/ May, 1995 October, 1993/ February, 1994 October, 1993/ February, 1994 February, 1994/ March, 1995 February, 1994/ April, 1995 July, 1994/ October, 1995 April, 1995/ April, 1996
Processor, Speed
(Bus speed):
Motorola 68020, 16 MHz (16 MHz) Motorola 68030, 16 MHz (16 MHz) Motorola 68030, 16 MHz (16 MHz) Motorola 68030, 25 MHz (25 MHz) Motorola 68030, 25 MHz (25 MHz) Motorola 68030, 33 MHz (33 MHz) Motorola 68040, 25 MHz (25 MHz) Motorola 68030, 32 MHz (16 MHz) Motorola 68030, 33 MHz (33 MHz) Motorola 68030, 25 MHz (25 MHz) Motorola 68040, 33 MHz (33 MHz) Motorola 68040, 33 MHz (33 MHz) Motorola 68040, 33 MHz (33 MHz)
indicates interchangeable logicboards

External links

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