Apple Introduces Power Macintosh 6100, Their First Computer to Use PowerPC Processor

The Power Macintosh 6100 was Apple Computer's first computer to use the new PowerPC RISC type processor created by IBM and Motorola.

It came in the Centris 610's "pizza box" low-profile case, and superseded the Quadra series that used Motorola's 68040 processor, Apple's previous high end workstation line.

Power Macintosh 6100 was first introduced in 1994, and featured a 60 MHz (later 66 MHz) PowerPC 601 processor. It was later complemented by an AV version, which featured additional audio and visual enhancements such as composite and S-video input/output and full 48 kHz 16-bit DAT-resolution sound processing, invaluable to multimedia professionals.

Apple also released a PC-compatible model of the 6100 called the Power Macintosh 6100 DOS Compatible. This version came with a card that featured a Cyrix CX486 DX2/66 80486 processor and a single SIMM RAM slot that used the same type of RAM to that in the Power Mac itself, and could hold up to 32mb of RAM. a Creative Technology Vibra 16 sound chipset, and also sported standard PC VGA and joystick ports. One could easily run the Macintosh interface and DOS/Windows 3.1 side by side, even on different monitors if one so desired. The card could also use the main system RAM if there was no SIMM installed on the card.

Notable was the new startup and "sad mac" chimes: instead of the electronic "bong" that was the previous norm, it played a guitar chord strummed by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan, and instead of the "Chimes of Doom" arpeggio that played when there was a hardware error at startup, there was the sound of a car crashing.

This model and the other early NuBus-based Power Macs (7100, 8100 and Workgroup Server 9150) were replaced by the Power Macintosh PCI series released in 1995, although the 6100 DOS compatible continued in production until 1996, even though Apple had already released the anticipated "PC Personality Card" in 1995 that plugged into one of the PCI slots of the newer Power Macs. This card featured a 66 MHz Pentium processor, which was considered very fast at that time.

Generally considered to be the slowest of all the Power Macintoshes in terms of processor speed, the 6100 series was eventually able to be upgraded through third party solutions such as Sonnet Technologies Crescendo G3 NuBus (up to 500 MHz) and G4 NuBus (up to 360 MHz; discontinued) and Newer Technology's MaxPower G3 processor upgrades. However, it was revolutionary enough at the time to replace Jerry Seinfeld's state-of-the-art PowerBook Duo as his ubiquitous desktop Mac.

The 6100/60 was the entry-level Power Mac when Apple introduced the line in March 1994. Built into the Quadra 610 case, the 6100 contains a PDS which can be converted to a NuBus slot with an adapter. To save money, the 6100 uses RAM for video (up to 615 KB, depending on resolution and bit-depth), not separate VRAM. Thus, one way to improve performance is to add a video card, either Apple AV card or a third-party one. (This also makes it possible to run two monitors.) Another is to add a 1 MB level 2 cache, as noted on our benchmark page. More details at PowerMac 6100 Graphics Performance.