The Macintosh Performa (sometimes called Power Macintosh) is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from 1992 to 1997. The Performa brand re-used models from Apple's Quadra, Centris, LC, and Power Macintosh families with model numbers that denoted included software packages or hard drive sizes. Whereas non-Performa Macintosh computers were sold by Apple Authorized Resellers, the Performa was sold through big-box stores and mass-market retailers such as Good Guys, Circuit City, and Sears.
After releasing a total of sixty-four different models, Apple retired the Performa brand in early 1997, shortly after release of the Power Macintosh 5500, 6500, 8600 and 9600. The end of the Performa brand at Apple coincided with both a period of significant financial turmoil due in part to low sales of Performa machines, and the return of Steve Jobs to the company.
With a strong education market share throughout the 1980s, Apple wanted to push its computers into the home, with the idea that a child would experience the same Macintosh computer both in the home and at school, and later grow to use Macintosh computers at work. In the early 1990s, Apple sold computers through a chain of authorized resellers, and through mail order catalogs such as those found in the latter third of MacWorld Magazine. A typical reseller sold Macintosh computers to professionals, who purchased high-level applications and required performance and expansion capabilities. Consumers, however, purchased computers based on the best value, and weren't as concerned about expansion or performance. To reach these customers, Apple wanted to sell their computers through department store chains (such as Sears), but this would conflict with existing authorized reseller agreements, in which a geographic area had only one reseller.
To prevent these conflicts, Apple split the Macintosh line into professional and consumer models. The professional line included the Classic, LC, Centris, Quadra, and Power Macintosh lines, and continued to be sold as-is (i.e., no consumer software bundles or limited features). The consumer line was given the name "Performa", and included computers similar to the professional line. Early Performa models were not sold with the "Macintosh" brand in order to get around the authorized reseller agreements.
The Performa line was marketed differently from the professional line. To satisfy consumer-level budgets, the computers were sold bundled with home and small business applications. Most models were also bundled with a keyboard, mouse, an external modem and either a dot-29 or dot-39 pitch shadow mask CRT monitor. Professional models, in contrast, were sold à la carte with keyboard and mouse bundles chosen by the dealer or sold separately; monitors sold with high-end Macintosh models typically used Trinitron tubes based on aperture grille technology.
While the Performa models resembled their professional counterpart on the system software and hardware level, certain features were tweaked or removed. The Performa 600, for instance, lacked the level-2 cache of the Macintosh IIvx it was based on.
Unlike the professional Macintosh lines, each individual Performa bundle was given a unique model number, in some cases varying only by the software bundle or the specific retailer that sold that model. This was intended to accommodate retailers, who could advertise that they could beat their competitors' price on equivalent models while at the same time ensuring that they did not actually carry the same models as their competitors. To help consumers choose between the options available to them, Apple created multiple paid advertisements including "The Martinettis Bring Home a Computer", a thirty-minute "storymercial" about a fictional family that purchases a Performa computer that aired in December 1994.
Apple's strategy for selling Performa machines in department and electronics retail stores did not include the sort of specialized training Apple offered to its dealers. This resulted in situations where Performa display models were often poorly taken care of; the demo computers crashed, the self-running demo software not running or the display models not even powered on.[failed verification] Apple tried to address the training issue by hiring their own sales people to aid the store sales staff, most of them recruited from Macintosh user groups. Despite this, however, many returned Performa computers could not be serviced properly because the stores were not authorized Apple service centers.
The problem was compounded by retailers favoring Microsoft Windows, especially after the introduction of Windows 95. Computers running Windows were generally cheaper, and encouraged by manufacturer spiffs, advertising co-ops, and other promotion programs. In addition, many stores preferred to sell their own branded white box PCs, something Apple would not allow.
As a consequence of these issues, Apple overestimated demand for Performa machines in 1995 while also underestimating demand for high-end Power Macintosh models, leading to significant oversupply issues. Introduction of new Performa models slowed as a result: whereas Apple had introduced 20 different Performa models around the world from May to December 1995, the number dropped to four in the first seven months of 1996.
For the late-1996 holiday period, sales of Performa-branded machines had dropped year-over-year by 15 percent, reflective of a company-wide drop in fourth-quarter revenues by one-third compared with 1995.
In February 1997, just days after Steve Jobs returned to the company, Apple refreshed its entire line of desktop computers, retiring a dozen Performa models based on the Power Macintosh 6200 and 6400 with no replacement, and reducing the range of Power Macintosh to six computers (plus a few Apple Workgroup Server variants). The official end of the Performa brand was announced on March 15 as part of sweeping changes at the company that included layoffs of a third of the company's workforce and the cancellation of several software products. By early 1998, Apple's lineup was reduced to four computers: One desktop, one all-in-one, and two minitowers (one of which was sold as a server product). As part of the restructuring of how Apple sold its computers in retail channels, it partnered with CompUSA to implement a "Store within a store" concept. Apple and related products were displayed and sold in a physically separate location by specialized employees (currently done at select Best Buy stores).
The Performa versions of the Macintosh System software introduced some features that were not available on non-Performa Macintoshes. The most notable of these are At Ease (parental controls), the Launcher (an application launcher similar to the macOS Dock), and the Performa Control Panel, which included several unique configuration options. The functionality of all three components were eventually folded into the operating system itself. Versions of System 7 with the additional software had a 'P' appended to the end, such as 7.1.2P which was included with the Performa 630 in mid-1994.
Software bundles usually included ClarisWorks, Quicken, a calendar/contact manager such as Touchbase and Datebook Pro, America Online, educational software such as American Heritage Dictionary, The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, TIME Almanac (on models equipped with a CD-ROM drive), Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, or Mario Teaches Typing, and a selection of games such as Spectre Challenger, Diamonds, and Monopoly.
|Performa system||Equivalent Macintosh system||Configuration||Introduction|
|Notes||CPU||RAM cache?||Extra RAM Slots||RAM||HDD||VRAM||Modem?||FPU Socket?||Monitor||CD|
|Performa 200||Macintosh Classic II||16 MHz||2, 30-pin SIMM||2 MB||40 MB||Yes||No||1992-09-14|
|Performa 250||Macintosh Color Classic||16 MHz||2, 30-pin SIMM||4 MB||40 MB||256 KB||Yes||Yes||1993-02-01|
|Performa 275||Macintosh Color Classic II||33 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||80 MB||256 KB||Yes||Yes||1993-10-01|
|Performa 400||Macintosh LC II||16 MHz||2, 30-pin SIMM||4 MB||80 MB||512 KB||Yes||No||1992-09-14|
|Performa 405||Macintosh LC II||16 MHz||2, 30-pin SIMM||4 MB||80 MB||256 KB||Yes||No||.39 RGB||1993-04-12|
|Performa 430||Macintosh LC II||16 MHz||2, 30-pin SIMM||4 MB||120 MB||512 KB||Yes||No||.39 RGB||1993-04-12|
|Performa 450||Macintosh LC III||25 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||120 MB||512 KB||Yes||Yes||.29 RGB||1993-04-12|
|Performa 410||Macintosh LC II||16 MHz||2, 30-pin SIMM||4 MB||80 MB||512 KB||Yes||No||.39 RGB||1993-10-18|
|Performa 460||Macintosh LC III+||33 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||80 MB||512 KB||Yes||Yes||.39 RGB||1993-10-18|
|Performa 466||Macintosh LC III+||33 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||160 MB||512 KB||Yes||Yes||.29 RGB||1993-10-18|
|Performa 467||Macintosh LC III+||33 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||160 MB||512 KB||Yes||Yes||.29 RGB||1993-10-18|
|Performa 475||Macintosh LC 475||50 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||160 MB||512 KB||Yes||No||.29 RGB||1993-10-18|
|Performa 476||Macintosh LC 475||50 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||230 MB||512 KB||Yes||No||.29 RGB||1993-10-18|
|Performa 550||Macintosh LC 520||33 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||5 MB||160 MB||768 KB||Yes||Yes||Trinitron||1993-10-18|
|Performa 560||Macintosh LC 520||33 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||5 MB||160 MB||768 KB||Yes||Yes||Trinitron||1994-01-01|
|Performa 575||Macintosh LC 575||66 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||5 MB||250 MB||1 MB||Yes||No||Trinitron||1994-04-26|
|Performa 577||Macintosh LC 575||66 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||5 MB||320 MB||1 MB||Yes||No||Trinitron||1994-02-01|
|Performa 578||Macintosh LC 575||66 MHz||1, 72-pin SIMM||8 MB||320 MB||1 MB||Yes||No||Trinitron||1994-02-91|
|Performa 580CD||Macintosh LC 580||66 MHz||2, 72-pin SIMM||8 MB||500 MB||1 MB||Yes||No||1995-05-01|
|Performa 588CD||Macintosh LC 580||66 MHz||2, 72-pin SIMM||8 MB||500 MB||1 MB||Yes||No||1995-04-13|
|Performa 600||Macintosh IIvi/IIvx||33 Mhz||No||4, 30-pin SIMM||4 MB||160 MB||512 KB||Yes||Yes||1992-09-14|
|Performa 600CD||Macintosh IIvi/IIvx||Same as the 600, but with CD Drive||33 Mhz||No||4, 30-pin SIMM||4 MB||160 MB||512 KB||Yes||Yes||2x CD-ROM||1992-09-14|
|Performa 630||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||66 Mhz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||250 MB||1 MB||Yes||No||1994-07-01|
|Performa 630CD||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||Same as 630, but with CD Drive||66 Mhz||1, 72-pin SIMM||4 MB||250 MB||1 MB||Yes||No||CD300i||1994-07-01|
|Performa 630CD DOS Compatible||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||CD300i||1995-05-01|
|Performa 631CD||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||1||8 MB||500 MB||Yes||Yes||1995-07-17|
|Performa 635CD||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||Performa 630 with some changes||5 MB||Yes||Yes||2x CD-ROM||1994-07-01|
|Performa 636||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||Same as 630, only sold to higher-education market.||1994-07-01|
|Performa 636CD||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||Performa 636 with CD-ROM, only sold to higher-education market.||1994-07-01|
|Performa 637CD||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||636CD with a 350 MB HDD and a monitor||1994-07-01|
|Performa 638CD||Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630||636CD with 350 MB HDD and a TV/video in card||1994-07-01|
|Performa 640CD DOS Compatible||Macintosh LC 630 DOS Compatible||631CD with modem and the 630CD DOS Compatible's 486 processor card||1995-05-01|
|Performa 5200CD||Power Macintosh 5200 LC||The Power Macintosh 5200 LC with a 790 MB or 1 GB hard drive.||1995-05-01|
|Performa 5210CD||Power Macintosh 5200 LC||Identical to the Power Macintosh 5200 LC, sold only in Asia and Europe.||1995-05-01|
|Performa 5215CD||Power Macintosh 5200 LC||The Performa 5200CD with a different software bundle.||1995-05-01|
|Performa 5220CD||Power Macintosh 5200 LC||The Performa 5215CD with a 500 MB hard drive, sold only in Asia and Europe.||1995-05-01|
|Performa 5300CD||Power Macintosh 5300 LC||Consumer version of the Power Macintosh 5300 LC.||1995-10-17|
|Performa 5300CD DE||Power Macintosh 5300 LC||Special "Director's Edition" of the 5300CD with additional software.||1995-10-17|
|Performa 5320CD||Power Macintosh 5300 LC||120 MHz version of the 5300CD, only sold in Europe and Asia.||1995-10-17|
|Performa 6110CD||Power Macintosh 6100/60||250MB HDD; business software bundle||1994-11-01|
|Performa 6112CD||Power Macintosh 6100/60||250 MB HDD; kids' software bundle||1994-11-01|
|Performa 6115CD||Power Macintosh 6100/60||350 MB HDD; business software bundle||1994-11-01|
|Performa 6116CD||Power Macintosh 6100/66||350 MB HDD||1994-03-14|
|Performa 6117CD||Power Macintosh 6100/66||350 MB HDD||1994-03-14|
|Performa 6118CD||Power Macintosh 6100/60||500 MB HDD; combined software bundles from Performa 6110CD and 6112CD||1994-11-01|
|Performa 6200CD||Power Macintosh 6200||1 GB HDD, a 14.4k modem, bundled monitor and software||1995-05-01|
|Performa 6205CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6200CD with a 28.8k Global Village TelePort modem instead of a 14.4k one||1995-08-28|
|Performa 6210CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6205CD with a different software bundle.||1995-10-12|
|Performa 6214CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6200CD with a different software bundle.||1995-08-28|
|Performa 6216CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6200CD without the monitor.||1995-07-17|
|Performa 6218CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6200CD with 16 MB of RAM instead of 8 MB.||1995-07-17|
|Performa 6220CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6218CD without the monitor, but with a TV / video in/out card.||1995-07-17|
|Performa 6230CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6220CD with a hardware MPEG decoder card.||1995-07-17|
|Performa 6260CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6290CD with an 800 MB hard drive. Only sold in Europe and Asia.||1996-06-19|
|Performa 6290CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The Power Macintosh 6200 with a 100 MHz 603e processor and a 1.2 GB hard drive. Only sold in North America.||1996-01-27|
|Performa 6300CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6290CD with 16 MB of RAM and a bundled monitor. Sold only in North America.||1995-05-28|
|Performa 6310CD||Power Macintosh 6200||Identical to the 6300CD, but only sold in Asia and Europe.||1996-02-14|
|Performa 6320CD||Power Macintosh 6200||The 6290CD with a 120 MHz 603e processor, with a bundled monitor and a TV/video card.||1996-04-22|
|Performa 6360||Power Macintosh 6300/160||Identical to the Power Macintosh 6300/160, sold only in North and South America.||1996-10-01|
|Performa 6400/180||Power Macintosh 6400||180 MHz CPU; sold in North America||1996-08-05|
|Performa 6400/200||Power Macintosh 6400||200 MHz CPU; sold in North America||1996-08-05|
|Performa 6400/200 VEE||Power Macintosh 6400||32 MB RAM, Avid Cinema card and software||1996-08-05|
|Performa 6410||Power Macintosh 6400||180 MHz CPU; sold in Europe and Asia||1996-11-12|
|Performa 6420||Power Macintosh 6400||200 MHz CPU; sold in Europe and Asia||1996-11-12|
During the mid-90s, Mac users were prone to dealing with poorly trained and ill-maintained Mac sections in big box computer and electronics stores. These environments did not foster customer loyalty, nor did they help differentiate the Mac user-experience from Windows.