Mac clones to rise again? (updated 3x)

Summary:I remember fondly the heady days of the Mac clones.Cloner Power Computing promoted their 225MHz PowerPC tower at Macworld Expo in Boston by offering free bungee jumps off a 225 foot crane tower outside the Hynes Convention Center.

Power Computing Poster from Macworld San Francisco 1997
I remember fondly the heady days of the Mac clones.

Cloner Power Computing promoted their 225MHz PowerPC tower at Macworld Expo in Boston by offering free bungee jumps off a 225 foot crane tower outside the Hynes Convention Center. I took the leap over the Boston bay and lived to tell about it.

But that wasn't Power Computing's only stunt. They are also known for their boot camp, military-themed booth complete with camoflauge tents and drill sargeant booth babes. If that wasn't enough, Power drove over PCs with a Humvee at Macworld Expo in San Francisco as part of their "counter assault" campaign.

After Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 he pink-slipped all the cloners by revoking their licenses to the Apple ROMs effectively ending the Apple-clone business model for good. Or did he?

A new company on the scene call Psystar (site severely swamped right now). The company is offering "OpenMac" a US$399 Mac-compatible tower built from generic PC components (Techmeme):

  • 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB of DDR2 667 memory
  • Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics
  • 20x DVD+/-R Drive
  • 4 USB Ports
  • 250GB 7200RPM Drive

For another US$110 and you add an NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT and for another USS$50 you can add FireWire.Apple's current, lowest-cost machine is the Mac mini which starts at US$599. From the Psystar Web site (before it became unresponsive):

We are proud to introduce the new wheel: OpenMac. Mac enthusiasts have been experimenting on running the new Apple operating systems on commodity PC hardware ever since the Intel-based Apple computers were introduced in early 2006. This effort came to be known as OSx86 Project.

The goals of the OSx86 Project have been realized and even the latest releases of OS X can now run on PC hardware that is commonly available but compatibility can sometimes be an issue. Psystar has assembled a system that is completely operational with Leopard called the OpenMac. We call it the OpenMac to reflect the opening of what has previously been a hardware monopoly.

So how long before Apple releases the hounds on the operation? Will Steve Jobs stand for such flagrant insubordination?

Tell your us your story about found Mac clones in the TalkBack below.

The image above is from Power Computing's military-themed ad campaign at MWSF97. More Power trivia and six more posters can be found on the Stream Studio Web site.

Update: A note posted on the Psystar site: "Site is currently offline due to the massive influx of users in the last 24 hours. Stay tuned. support (at)"

Update2: Psystar claims that OpenMac is "Leopard compatible" with some "minimal patching" and offers Leopard pre-installed. They accomplish this by using hardware that is known to be Leopard compatible and by using an EFI emulator.

With the EFI V8 emulator it is possible to install Leopard's kernel straight from the DVD that you purchased at the Apple store barring the addition of a few drivers to ensure that everything boots and runs smoothly.

Topics: Apple, Hardware


Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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