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Pouncing on the iMac

Apple's latest consumer system arrives at stores and resellers but not everybody can get one.

Apple Computer's iMac computer arrived at stores and resellers Saturday, with pent-up demand turning into a flurry of sales after the company announced a large number of advance orders for the snazzy consumer system.

The initial indications are that people are snapping them up quickly. At CompUSA in Santa Clara, California, almost all systems were sold out by 1 p.m. Saturday.

"We had 70 preorders. See special report:
Apple's gambit In addition to that, 30 more boxes came in. We only have a couple left now," a store representative said on Saturday.

Elsewhere, one of the nation's largest Mac-only dealers sold more than 200 iMacs from midnight Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday morning during a special sale, with 420 more going by end of day Saturday, said Paul Ramirez, vice president of marketing for ComputerWare. Ramirez added the company has enough systems left to fulfill preorders.

"It's unbelievable what this has done for the morale of employees and customers," said an enthused Ramirez.

DataVision, a reseller with stores in Long Island and New York, had its highest single day sales total in the company's history, according to a representative. Its inventory of iMacs sold out, and the company reported brisk sales of other Mac desktop and notebook computers as well.

MacMall, another Macintosh reseller, said they were inundated with orders. "We shipped out 1,200 just this morning," one sales representative said Saturday.

Meanwhile, Fry's Electronics retail store in Palo Alto, California, still had plenty of stock at closing time Saturday. A Fry's representative said they had about 50 in stock and had sold about 15 by 5 p.m. that day. Fry's is a major computer and electronics retailer in Silicon Valley.

Steve Jobs, Apple's interim chief executive, estimates that there are 16 million customers that could potentially buy new Macs but

iMac demo at CompUSA
A salesman demonstrates the new iMac at a New York CompUSA. AP
have been reluctant to do so because of questions about the company's viability and the lack of a compelling product.

The iMac is the company's response to such concerns, and also fills a big hole in Apple's PC lineup: This is the first new full-blown Macintosh consumer system in over a year.

The box comes with a 233-MHz 750 PowerPC processor, a 4GB hard disk drive, 32MB of memory, built-in networking, an internal modem, and a CD-ROM drive. It also features 512K of high-speed "secondary cache" memory, which boosts performance.

It does not have a floppy drive, however, which is a concern for some buyers. (See CNET's review of the iMac)

Further, the iMac is the first Mac to forgo Apple's own proprietary connectors for "plug-and-play" attachment of peripherals and instead feature USB (Universal Serial Bus) technology to connect Windows-Intel and Macintosh USB peripherals. The technology is being used in most new Intel-based computers. The iMac's keyboard and mouse, for instance, are based on USB.

Analysts say its novel design and low price should impress many consumers. "When you see one, you are going to want one," enthused Lou Mazzucchelli, an analyst with Gerard Klauer Mattison in a previous interview. "Just think of it as the new Volkswagen. It is unbelievably priced for what you can get."