Image: Michaek MJD / YouTube

Some people are really itching for a touchscreen Mac, presumably finding the precision and convenience of a mouse or touchpad just too convenient. And while Apple has to date refused to give the people what they think they want, it turns out you can buy a touchscreen Mac in 2023. It just happens to be 24 years old.

Back in 1999, a company called Elo built and sold touchscreen editions of the iMac G3 via Apple’s Value Added Reseller program. This wasn’t for home use, but for business to use as “ready-to-go tabletop kiosks”, and the YouTuber Michael MJD has managed to get his hands on one to put through its paces.

Giving a touchscreen to a non-touch sensitive screen is no mean feat, and the way Elo implemented it is really quite impressive. The company implemented their “iTouch Touch-on-Tube technology” which uses surface acoustic waves to figure out where you’re touching the screen. 

That means it can tell how hard you’re pressing on the display, without needing a screen overlay to wreck image quality. It set you back US$1,599 (~NZ$2,673) at the time — pricier than the US$1,199 (~NZ$2,004) that the touch-free G3 would cost, but cheaper than rival systems with overlays built on (yep, it turns out this was a small industry). 

Will Apple make a touchscreen Mac in the future? Steve Jobs was always resistant, arguing that “touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical” but then he also said that nobody wanted a stylus and the company was quick to introduce the Apple Pencil after his death. Indeed, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reckons that we could see a MacBook Pro with an OLED touchscreen in 2025.

In the meantime, you’ll just have to scour Ebay for an Elo Mac G3 — though just be aware it’ll likely set you back more than something fresher from the Apple Store, given Michael MJD paid CA$1,765.50 (~NZ$2,160) for his little slice of niche tech history.

Image: Michael MJD / YouTube

Alan Martin
Alan is an experienced and versatile writer with the unique distinction of having written for both The New Statesman and Nuts. The list of publications Alan has written for doesn't stop there. His work has also been published in: Wired, CNET, Gizmodo UK, ShortList, NME, TechRadar, The i, The Independent, The Evening Standard, City Metric, Macworld, Pocket Gamer, Expert Reviews, Coach, The Inquirer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Tom's Guide, T3, PC Pro, IT Pro, Ideal Home, Livingetc, Stuff, Business Insider, theBit, Wareable, and Trusted Reviews. Alan now covers a range of subjects for ReviewsFire, with a focus on news - his unique style of covering technology news is a key part of ReviewsFire's success.

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