Apple Releases Power Mac G4

The original Apple Power Mac G4, code name "Yikes!", was introduced at the Seybold conference in San Francisco on August 31, 1999, with 400 MHz, 450 MHz and 500 MHz configurations available.

In October 1999, Apple was forced to postpone the 500 MHz due to poor yield of the 500 MHz chips. In response, Apple “speed dumped” the processor speed in each configuration by 50 MHz but caused some controversy by not decreasing the price of the machines.

The early 400 MHz (later 350 MHz) PCI-based version used a motherboard identical to the one used in Power Macintosh G3 (Blue & White) computers (minus the ADB port), in a "graphite" colored case and with the new Motorola PowerPC 7400 (G4) CPU. The higher-speed models, code name "Sawtooth", used a greatly modified motherboard design with AGP 2x graphics (replacing the 66 MHz PCI slot). In December 1999, the entire Power Mac G4 line was updated to the AGP motherboard.
Power Mac G4 Graphite with upgraded CPU

The machines featured DVD-ROM drives as standard. The 400 MHz and 450 MHz versions had 100 MB Zip drives as standard equipment, and as an option on the 350 MHz Sawtooth. This series had a 100 MHz system bus and four PC100 SDRAM slots for up to 2 GiB of RAM (1.5 GiB under Mac OS 9). The AGP Power Macs were the first to include an AirPort slot and DVI video port.

The 500 MHz version was reintroduced on February 16, 2000, accompanied by 400 MHz and 450 MHz models. DVD-RAM and Zip drives featured on these later 450 MHz and 500 MHz versions and were an option on the 400Mhz.

Apple's marketing name for all these early AGP models is Power Mac AGP Graphics. The code name Sawtooth was used internally before release and became the popular designation among enthusiasts.

The design was updated at the Macworld Expo New York on July 19, 2000; the new revision included dual-processor 450 MHz and 500 MHz versions, and a low-end single CPU 400 MHz model. It was also the first personal computer to include gigabit Ethernet as standard. Most people saw this revision as a stopgap release, because higher clocked G4s were not available; the G4’s Motorola XPC107 “Grackle” PCI/Memory controller prevented the G4 from hitting speeds higher than 500 MHz. The dual 500 MHz models featured DVD-RAM optical drive. Zip drives were optional on all models. These models also introduced Apple's proprietary Apple Display Connector video port.

Apple's marketing name for this series is the Power Mac Gigabit Ethernet. The code name was Mystic.

"Wicked fast" is the phrase that best summarizes the breakthrough performance of the Power Mac G4 - the first personal computer classified as munitions and under export restriction because of its power.

Offering up to twice the performance of the G3 and three times the power of a Pentium III at the same clock speed, the G4 was Apple's first serious pro computer after Steve Jobs became iCEO.

Designed in graphite gray, silver, and clear plastic, it even looks professional. And with 1-4 gigaflops (billion floating point operations per second) performance at 500 MHz; by government definition when it was released in 1999, it was a supercomputer.

Note that there were two very different versions of the Power Mac G4. Even though both looked the same from the front, they have different motherboards and features. The "Yikes!" models use a modified Yosemite motherboard, while the model covered here is based on the "Sawtooth" motherboard.