Mainly Neat Stuff --> Vintage Macintosh --> Unboxing a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (TAM)

Unboxing a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (TAM)

The Twentieth Anniversary Mac TAM) was produced to celebrate 20 years of the Apple Computer company, not 20 years of Macs. Apple was founded in 1976 so the TAM was late when it arrived in early 1997. It was intended as an advanced system for the home with a design that would blend into a living room or study. Features like the TV and FM radio tuner also aimed the TAM at home users.

Technical specification can be found at EveryMac.

Gorgeous photos and a few more of the TAM can be found at Bob Bernardara's TAM site.

When first announced, the TAM was far too expensive for me. Over the next 18 months, TAMs sold slowly and Apple cut the price massively. The price fell enough for me to consider buying one but I resisted the temptation. My LCIII, salvaged from a skip, was good enough for web surfing for a bit longer... However, I had fallen in love with yet another Apple product.

For the last year or two, I have kept an eye on second hand TAM prices and, in the UK at least, a complete TAM in its original packaging will still fetch a silly price for a Mac that is incapable of running Mac OS X. But when I saw a brand new TAM, unused, complete in its original packaging for auction on eBay, I set myself a maximum bid, fully expecting to be beaten by an Apple collector even less tutored in economics than myself.

When the auction ended, I was the proud owner of a brand new TAM for my exact maximum bid. I had outbid another boxed TAM pursuer by £0.01. I went out that night and got drunk, partly out of elation but mainly because I was so dazed at sending so much on an eight year old computer, no matter how gorgeous. With the aid of alcohol, I convinced myself that it was a bargain because I hadn't paid the $7500 asking price from 1997.

A week after the auction ended, I met the seller to pick up my new TAM. He had opened the box to confirm contents before auctioning it, but apart from that, the TAM was in the same state that it had left the factory in early 1998.

Whether to assemble and use my new TAM was a no brain decision. The TAM is a computer not a sculpture, so it would be insane not to enjoy using it. Old computers don't like being left in boxes anyway: plastic packaging can decay and the TAM contains a battery that needs to be replaced periodically to avoid leaks. All of the packaging is being preserved in its original condition and the accessory pack will be left unused. Light, considerate use will keep my TAM in far better order than shoving it in a box in the spare bedroom.

When first purchased in 1997, the TAM was hand delivered to the customer and assembled by an Apple representative. I collected mine in a hotel car park (at least it was the Hilton) and unpacked it myself. The accompanying photos record that process.

The outer box is in fairly clean condition -- a few scuffs but no rips or non-original markings. Even the hand grips are intact. The shipping labels date back to 1998.

The thumbnail images on the right are linked to larger images that will open in a new window.

The TAM box logos do not conform to Apple's marketing guidelines.

The pink delivery label shows that my TAM was shipped in a consignment of 18 units to a Sheffield, UK dealer at the end of January 1998. According to the EveryMac web site, the TAM was discontinued on 14th March 1998.

After unpeeling the lid of the TAM box, you can see two further cartons. The Accessories carton is helpfully labelled "1".

A view of the Accessories carton lid. Note again that the design ignores Apple's marketing guidelines.

A close-up of the opening instructions. The "Begin Here" instruction is barely readable in normal light. The three other cartons are a much light shade of grey.

After removing the Accessories carton, you can remove the slim Keyboard carton (not shown on the right) and then struggle to pull out the Base Unit (sub woofer) carton and System Unit carton.

The Accessories carton has three layers. The photo on the right shows the top layer. From top left in clockwise order: Remote control for TV/FM/CD, a selection of manuals, leather CD wallet, pen and pencil set in leather wallet.

A close up of the leather wallet for the pen and pencil set. This is one of the first things to be lost from a TAM box. Note the embossed Apple logo on the wallet (right of photo).

A close up of the pen and pencil.

A rather grotty photo of the CD wallet. The leather is embossed "Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh".

The second layer contains cables etc. From left to right: Geoport modem and telephone cables, power cable and FM antenna, miscellaneous audio visual cables and riser cards for logic board expansion slots.

The third layer contains the replacement rear panel assembly which is used if you fit a PCI riser card.

The replacement rear case for use when the expansion slot riser cards are fitted.

Mounting bracket/shield for use when expansion cards are fitted.

Logically enough, the Keyboard carton holds the keyboard. There is no mouse.

The trackpad can be detached from its location ahead of the keypad and used anyhere on the desktop.

Rear view of the keyboard. Note the way that the cable for the trackpad is stored in a runway built into the base of the keyboard.

The square on the bottom right houses a leather pad that is used to fill the gap in the palm rest if the trackpad is detached.

A detail view of the Keyboard carton.

The Base Unit box contains the Bose sub woofer unit.

"Unconventional" is the euphemism to describe the sub woofer. It looks slightly better in real life and is usually shoved out of sight anyway.

View of the bottom of the base unit. You spend a few minutes looking at this when putting the TAM together for the first time.

Yes, that is a volume adjuster for the sub woofer and an LED. The volume adjuster's default position assumes that you will place the sub woofer on a hard floor not too close to walls.

The base unit holds the power supply. It is a dual 110/230 volt supply and must be set manually using the red switch above the IEC connector. The female connector at the bottom supplies power to the TAM and audio signals to the sub woofer.

The matching male connector on the TAM system unit.

A gleaming new TAM in its box.

Close up detail from the Computer carton.

The rear case pops off by pressing two catches. Access to the logic board is easier than on any other Mac of this period.

A slightly better view of the top half of the logic board.

The lower half of the logic board and a few ports. The AV, ADB and LocalTalk ports are concealed by a cover on the right.

My TAM after connecting up and booting for the first time since manufacture.

Immediately after booting, the special TAM guided tour is launched. I haven't looked at a Mac guided tour simce the compact days. The TAM tour has all of the polish that you'd expect for a computer costing $7500.

The obligatory infinite TAM photo: my TAM is running the guided tour showing a TAM running the guided tour.

Copyright information: If you wish to use any images on these pages, please contact the author, Phil Beesley on

Last updated 21 October 2006.