Long time, no LC

The LC series or “low-cost color” was introduced in 1990 as an affordable and easily expandable pizza-box Mac that was marketed mostly to school districts in the early 90s. The first of the series was simply called the LC and it was introduced the same time as the Macintosh Classic and IIsi. It was followed up by the LC II, LC III, and the LC 475 which all shared the same pizza-box form factor. Eventually the LC line was expanded to include other types of systems like the all-in-one 500 series and even some PowerMac systems.


Some fun/interesting facts on the LC series:

  • The LC series was marketed to home users under the “Performa” name. Some of the LCs’ logic boards have jumpers to select between identifying as LC or Performa. The LC 475 was also sold under the Performa 475 and Quadra 605 names.
  • Early in its development, an integrated keyboard (like an Apple II) type design was in the works.
  • Apple’s internal codename for the LC was… “Elsie”!
  • The early LCs had an LC-specific PDS slot for expansion for upgrades like ethernet cards or Apple II compatibility cards (both attractive options for classroom use)
  • The Color Classic series was closely related to the LCs, and some of the all-in-one LC 5xx series logic boards are pin-compatible with the Color Classics.

So, what’s the verdict on the LC? Well, it depends of course. Back in the day, a 400-series was my first ever Mac – and that turned me into a life-long fan. In middle school of the mid-90s, we had dozens of LC II and LC IIIs that always struck me as slow and underpowered. The original LC and the LC II were definitely limited and underpowered, but they were also affordable and fun.

I recently added an LC III into my collection and I find it a lot more capable than I’d remembered. It’s a competent System 7 machine and can generally play the original color Mac games without much problem. It’s an easy machine to work on, and upgrade. It’s also small and doesn’t take up a ton of space, compared to the all-in-ones. Heck, it can even play MP3s.

So, give the humble LCs/Performas a shot – they’re a great addition to any classic Mac collection.