This touchscreen iMac G3 prototype from 1999 is every bit as awesome as it sounds

Touchscreen iMac G3 in use
(Image credit: Michael MJD)

The iPad has been around for a long time at this point but plenty of people would still rather a touchscreen Mac running macOS than a tablet running iPadOS. And while Apple doesn't seem keen to make that happen, that doesn't mean that a touchscreen Mac has never existed. Because it very much did.

Not only was there a touchscreen iMac, but it was based on perhaps the most iconic iMac ever — the iMac G3. And someone got their hands on one.

YouTuber Michael MJD was able to get hold of a touchscreen iMac G3 and put it through its paces and, surprisingly, this 1999 touchscreen iMac works pretty well.

Getting touchy with an iMac

The story goes that while Apple didn't produce any touchscreen iMacs, some companies did. They were part of the Apple Value Added Reseller program which allowed them to take Apple hardware and then add features to them. In the case of a company called Elo, touchscreen capabilities were added to a standard iMac G3.

It's thought that the modified iMacs were built to be used as kiosk machines with custom software, but this one appears to be running standard Apple fare. And it works surprisingly well given the technology at play back in 1999.

Anyone expecting iPad Pro-levels of touch responsiveness should look elsewhere of course, but there's a case to be made for this being the best Mac you could buy at the turn of the century.

Unlike some competing companies, Elo's iTouch technology didn't layer anything over the iMac's display in order to make the touchscreen magic work. The technology is explained in the video so we won't spoil anything here, but the result is an incredibly clean installation that even Jony Ive himself might have been proud of.

Whether or not we'll see a touchscreen iMac like this in the future is anyone's guess, but if we do, it certainly won't be the first.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.