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iMac throwback: Apple's candy-colored history, from 1999 to 2021

Apple has unveiled a new line of iMacs in seven beautiful tones, hearkening back to the early fruit-themed iMacs. This photo comparison shows how much the new models owe to the classic 1999 version.

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Sarah Tew
iMac 2021 in 7 colors with M1
1 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Hello, new iMacs! Check out the new colorful designs, and then we'll take a look back at the splashes of color Apple first brought to the 1999 iMacs, following the computer's debut in 1998 with just a single color.

iMac 2021 in 7 colors with M1
2 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

From left to right: green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue and silver.

iMac 2021 in 7 colors with M1
3 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

This is called pink on Apple's website. To me it feels a bit more... tomato? The two-tone nature of these designs makes them a little trickier to name, no doubt.

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4 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Complete with a desktop background to match!

iMac 2021 in 7 colors with M1
5 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

The back and rim are done in a darker tone, while the front, the keyboard and the stand appear to be a lighter shade. The colors are named after how they appear on the lighter front panel, hence the red version is called "pink." 

iMac 2021 in 7 colors with M1
6 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

These cheerful colors are just what the doctor ordered for 2021.

iMac 2021 in 7 colors with M1
7 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

You can get a Magic Mouse to match your new iMac.

iMac 2021 in 7 colors with M1
8 of 27 Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

And don't forget the Trackpad. No, you can't buy these separately, yet. 

iMac G3 1999
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The very first iMac was introduced in 1998 in Bondi blue, a color named after Bondi Beach, a popular surfing spot... get it? 'Cause you can surf the web on this thing.

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10 of 27 John Green/Bay Area News/Getty Images

On Jan. 5, 1999, Apple's Steve Jobs (interim CEO at the time) introduced five new colors of the iMac at MacWorld in San Francisco.

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11 of 27 Getty Images

The five new colors were fruit-themed: blueberry, grape, tangerine, lime and strawberry. 

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12 of 27 John G. Mabanglo/Stringer/Getty Images

"Collect all five?" One was definitely enough for the average computer user in the late '90s. Ads for the computers had text such as "No Artificial Colors" and "iCandy."

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13 of 27 Getty Images

Here's a grape-colored iMac DV (for "digital video").

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14 of 27 Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Here they are for sale in Japan. Keep in mind this was a few years before Apple launched its own stores.

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15 of 27 Stephen Hackett

Strawberry, as photographed by Stephen Hackett, a collector who ultimately came into possession of all 13 versions.

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16 of 27 juniorbeep/Getty

Here you can see the front, back and side views of the blueberry model. It's amazing how much more they can fit in a ridiculously thin form these days compared with the early computers.

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17 of 27 Yvan Dube/Getty
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18 of 27 Stephen Hackett

Tangerine.

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19 of 27 John G. Mabanglo/Stringer/Getty Images

Members of the media photographed and filmed the new Apple Computer iMac Special Edition after Apple interim CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs introduced it in Cupertino, California, on Oct. 5, 1999. These days you would be lost in a sea of hundreds of journalists all trying to get that shot.

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The Special Edition featured a clear "graphite" enclosure that was glossy and translucent instead of the hazier colored plastic of the other colors.

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Apple unveiled another handful of new iMac colors on July 19, 2000. From left to right these are: indigo, ruby, sage, graphite and snow. (That followed an October 1999 update). The machine was credited with helping Apple rebound from years of declining market share.

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Indigo.

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The color for this one's called snow. I guess Apple had to have something for the anti-color minimalist of the early aughts. 

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24 of 27 Stephen Hackett
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Ah, sage. Gosh, this looks like a familiar shade, doesn't it? Reminds me of the recent iPhones. Everything old is new again!

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Ruby and sage were later replaced with two limited-edition designs including this one, blue dalmation.

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This flower power pattern was the other limited-edition design.

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