Mac clones to rise again? (updated 3x)

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.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

Power Computing Poster from Macworld San Francisco 1997I 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

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  • Their site is down, but...

    I would be interested in it if it has a PCI-E slot.
    • The NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT

      is a PCIe card, so it would seem that there is a slot.
      Michael Kelly
      • hmm

        I wonder if you could SLI them, should be interesting reading... if I can ever get to the site.
    • Instead make Windows PC look like OSX Leopard

      If your looking for a different feel, perhaps Mac's new OS X Leopard is for you (without having to buy a Mac). Here is how you can do it for free.

  • Job$ will destroy them with trademark & IP lawsuits

    Before you know it, Job$ will invoke the EULA, patents and trademarks to shut them down.
    Then Apple would adjust the OS and hardware to make it even more proprietary...may be they'll go back to the power PC.
    Linux Geek
    • not really

      As long as they buy legit licenses of Mac OS, and explicitly disclose that they are NOT Apple or Apple-approved, there will be little Jobs can do except lower his prices. In short, end-users win.
      • but...

        OSX comes with the mac and you can install it many times, because Apple assumed that it would be on its hardware only.
        Linux Geek
        • but but...

          The copy of OS X that comes with each Mac is only licenced for that Mac. Also, OS X is nearly always part of a system install for a specific model and will not install on some other model, e.g. you can't use the install discs for an iMac to put OS X onto a MacBook.

          The only exception to the above (AFAIK) was the eMac, you could use it's system discs on most Macs (there were thousands of them sold through eBay).
          Fred Fredrickson
          • depends on the cd color?

            In theory the grey ones were model specific... The colored ones were any-machine installable.
      • The last thing Apple wants

        is for people to purchase Mac clones from someone else as opposed to purchasing a Mac from Apple.

        Apple's profits lie in the hardware, not software.
      • Apple branded hardware...

        its against the EULA to install OSX on a non-Apple branded machine.

        its not legit for them to sell it with OSX installed, they'll have to sell it blank and sell a copy of OSX, and have the end user install it, letting the end user break the agreement.
        • Then comes the Apple version

          of WGA: If it determines that it's not a true Apple product it's running on, the off switch is "hit",and OSX stops working.
          John Zern
        • Correct.

          It's not illegal for the other company to sell machines capable of running OS X (as long as they do it "on their own"), but is *is* illegal to run OS X on the machine, due to the license for OS X.
          • It may be illegal

            To sell the computer with the intent of allowing
            someone to violate the EULA.

            Personally I wouldn't want to have my $399 tied
            up with court orders and legal fees while Apple
            comes down hard on the company. You have no
            assurance you'll ever see the PC.
          • what's it say?

            What does the license say that makes it illegal to run on anything but an Apple computer? I can't see this being enforceable. Is the text of the license available online somewhere?
    • Can't see it happening.

      Running software they sold you on a machine you put together using parts that Apple also uses is not going to get you in trouble.
  • I love to see more Mac Clones! Go OpenMac!!!

    Grayson Peddie
  • Lawyers will love it

    A handful of customers may get the PC/Mac
    box, but it's the lawyers that will get the
    money - probably a fair chunk to boot.

    Let's check in at the end of the week to see
    how things are going/
  • Not sure what Apple can do...

    The machines ship with no OS. Its up to the user to break the EULA. Apple may make them take down any copyrighted images or text, but otherwise, not sure what they really can do.
    • Ment as reply to Ken_z (nt)