FEATURE – When the original iMac in Bondi blue was released on this day 25 years ago, there was an individual named Steve (no, not that one) who didn’t yet know what role that iconic computer would play in the grand scheme of things, mainly, for Apple, but also for… himself.
Steve Gribbin was only 7 years old when Apple’s new all-in-one desktop computer arrived onto the scene in 1998. It wouldn’t be until the age of 12 — while visiting the Apple section of a John Lewis department store (a chain of retail stores in the U.K.) — that Gribbin would have his very first experience with using a Mac: specifically, a snow iMac (DV).
“I loved the aesthetics of that iMac but, at the time, a brand new computer was well out of my reach,” says Gribbin.
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The First Of Many iMacs
In 2006, when he was just 15, Gribbin would finally get a Mac — something he saved up his hard-earned money for (some from an early Christmas present given to him by his parents and the rest from a part-time job working at a small restaurant / café on weekends when he wasn’t in school) — but what he got was not what he originally had his heart set on getting: an Intel-based iMac (white polycarbonate version).
“I still remember walking into a John Lewis and seeing the-then brand new 24-inch iMac and wanting it like nothing I’d ever wanted before. Then I saw its price, and, sadly, ended up going home with a Mac Mini instead.”
At 17, during his final year of college before going into university, Gribbin was given an assignment to do research on a business that had come close to financial failure and because he didn’t know too much about the company’s history, he chose to write about Apple (a company which he gained an affinity for after that very first experience with using a Mac).
According to Gribbin, his extensive research into Apple and the company’s history became a bit of an obsession which turned into a deeper fascination with Macs from the PowerPC era — in particular, the original iMac in Bondi blue (a product that saved the company from the brink of death) — something which, in turn, eventually developed into a hobby. Gribbin’s purchase of an old blueberry iMac (slot-loading version) to tinker with in order to complete the design component of his assignment would end up becoming only the first of many iMacs that he would collect over the years to come.
“Once I realized that I had collected 5 of the colors, I thought: ‘Well, I might as well look at collecting them all!'” says Gribbin.
“I also thought: ‘Why stop there?’ And, over time, it just snowballed.”
A Phenomenal Mix Of iMacs
Stashed away at Gribbin’s home in Northumberland, England are each and every color made — 18 colors in total (“Yum.”) — of all the G3 models of the iMac that Apple ever released: from translucent and tray-loading to transparent and slot-loading, Gribbin has it all (and, on display, too!).
In addition to all of those iMacs? Gribbin also has each and every screen size made of the G4 and G5 models of the iMac (flat panel version).
“The hardest ones to get, by far, were the tray-loading versions of the strawberry and tangerine iMac. They were fairly slow-selling compared to the other iMacs sold at the time. It took quite awhile to locate them., especially, in good condition!”
However? Out of all the iMacs in Gribbin’s collection, his most favorite color is: sage.
According to Gribbin, the DV series of iMacs — which he notes are among some of his favorite iterations — were a phenomenal mix as it featured the colors of graphite, indigo, ruby, sage, and… snow.
“I feel like the iMacs that were released in the Summer of 2000 were a turning point for Apple,” says Gribbin. “With the color of snow being introduced, the company was slowly beginning to transition away from colorful products to a more muted tone of white.”
Not Just iMacs
None of the iMacs in Gribbin’s collection were originally his, with all of them either being purchased or acquired specifically for his hobby.
The very first one — the blueberry iMac that he had while in college — was purchased secondhand at a car boot sale, (the U.K. equivalent of a flea market) while the rest of them came from places like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree (a local classified site in England similar to Craigslist). Others were acquired through some of Gribbin’s friends who, like him, are also in the hobby of collecting Macs.
“There are people who have collections far beyond what I could achieve, but I’d say I’m definitely a passionate collector who loves his hobby,” says Gribbin.
As if the iMacs in Gribbin’s collection weren’t enough? He also has other types of Macs in his possession, such as an assortment of Apple’s old laptop computers (just to name a few!).
This includes each and every color made of the original iBook (clamshell version) — 6 colors in total — as well as the snow iBook (G3 model) and both screen sizes of the iBook G4.
“I also have a fascination with the iPhone and the iPod. I’ve recently started collecting those, too.”
The iMacs That Started It All
With all of the various color options that are available for the all-new iMac that Apple released in 2021, the thought of collecting these iMacs, too, has crossed Gribbin’s mind. He did buy one (in silver) just last year — to use, though, not to collect — so, in a way, he’s already technically started the process.
“It was great to see apple re-introduce a colorful assortment of iMacs,” says Gribbin.
As for how those recently released iMacs compare to the ones from yesteryear? Gribbin feels that nothing can compare to the original iMac in Bondi blue that Apple released two-and-a-half decades ago.
“For me, it’s the image of Steve Jobs proudly standing onstage behind the iMac like a dad with his newborn child and its screen displaying the words, ‘hello (again)’. From a product standpoint, I think it’s predominantly the colorful and bubble-like design that sets it apart. Historically, it’s an iconic computer that is partly responsible for the Apple we have today.”
Looking back at it all, Gribbin, now 31, realizes just how much of an impact that snow iMac — the one he took for a spin on that day in the Apple section of a John Lewis department store when he was younger — had on his life: Not only as a user but also a collector of Macs.
“When I saw that bubble-like snow iMac sitting amongst a sea of beige PCs, it drew me in like nothing else and I knew I wanted it as my computer,” says Gribbin. “Finally getting one, albeit, many years later (when it was already considered a vintage machine) was pretty satisfying!”
About the Series: People Profiles is a special series that periodically appears here in the “Mac Potpourri” column on MacPrices which feature unique stories about users of Apple products (or related to the use of them in general). stories featured in this series are original and, in most cases, exclusive to this website. However, from time to time, they may be derived from other sources (should this be the case, the source material will be cited in the story). for more about People Profiles and its goal, primary focus, as well as the inspiration behind it, see this introduction to the series.