iPhone vs. Original Mac: a Teardown Showdown

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The iPhone 4 features a 3.5-inch-diagonal screen with 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 pixels per inch. The original Macintosh had a monochrome 9-inch-diagonal display with a 512-by-384-pixel-resolution bitmapped display. The iPhone 4's screen is a liquid crystal display (LCD), while the 128K had a cathode-ray tube (CRT) fluorescent screen.

iPhone screen vs. Mac 128K screen

Apple Inside

The iPhone 4 is a marvel of compact design, with almost no internal real estate wasted. In this photo, you can see the logic board just to the left of the iPhone 4's 3.7V 1420 mAh lithium-polymer battery--a battery 19 percent larger than the one previous devices used.

A big selling point for the 128K was its compact size: It measured 13.6 inches high by 9.6 inches wide by 10.9 inches deep and was much smaller than the typically wide desktop computers produced in the 1980s. The IBM PC/XT Model 286 released four years later in 1987 was 19.6 inches wide by 16.1 inches tall, according to InfoWorld. In fact, the original Mac's small footprint remains competitive by modern computer standards. Apple's current 21.5-inch all-in-one iMac, for example, measures 17.75 inches high by 20.8 inches wide by 7.4 inches deep.

Inside, the 128K had a lot of extra space set aside to make accommodate the CRT monitor.

Inside the iPhone and the original Mac

Photo credit: Macintosh internal components by Andreas Tabak

Operating System

Both the iPhone operating system and the 128K OS launched without multitasking. When the 128K came out you could do only one thing at a time on the machine. If you wanted to switch applications you had to insert a 3.5-inch floppy to load the new program. Apple sacrificed a lot of components typical in other computers, including RAM and storage space, to create a machine that was compact and affordable (by Apple standards).

You don't have to switch out disks on the iPhone, but until recently you could run only one application at a time on it. There were exceptions to that rule--for example, you could run the iPod and browse the Web simultaneously--but until iOS 4 launched in 2010, Apple didn't permit you to run more than one third-party app at a time. Despite Apple's recent changes, many observers have criticized the company for not supporting true multitasking on the iPhone.

iPhone 4 screen vs. Mac 128K screen

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