The Reason Apple's Macintosh TV Was A Failure

Long before Apple's foray into the streaming world with Apple TV, there was Macintosh TV. At that time, the device was something like no other — a computer-TV hybrid. It was an LC 520 Macintosh computer paired with a 14-inch Sony Trinitron CRT and TV tuner card (via Ars Technica). This means users could both use the device as a computer as well as watch television through a coax cable connection. It also included a CD-ROM drive, allowing owners to insert CDs to view on the CRT screen. Additionally, the Macintosh TV came with a remote control. 

Upon release, the Macintosh TV cost $2,099 dollars. This made it quite an investment for anyone looking to buy the machine. However, those who did would find themselves sorely disappointed, because neither the computer nor the TV functions were up to par, and there was a caveat that really didn't make buying the two-in-one machine worth the price point upon release in 1993. 

Why the Macintosh TV was less than ideal

First, as a computer, the Macintosh TV was incredibly lackluster. Although it was faster (at 32 MHz) than the past Performa 520 and LC520, it had a bus speed of 16 MHz, slowing down the entire system. It also lacked storage capacity. Even if you upgraded the RAM from its original 5 MB, all you can possibly get was a measly 8 MB, while the aforementioned computers could handle up to 36 MB. So, as a computer, it wasn't that great. 

How about as a TV? Well, you could watch in 16-bit color, however, in computer mode, it ran at only 8 bits (via Apple Museum). It was pretty standard for a TV, but certainly not worth the price since there wasn't anything else you could do while using the TV portion. You had to choose between the two functions, as there was no way to minimize TV programs into another window to do other tasks on the computer. You also couldn't capture any video from the TV, but instead could only take screenshots as PICT files (via iMore). In the end, it would just be better to have a TV and computer separately, for functional and financial reasons. 

Due to this, the Macintosh TV was a bust. It wasn't around for long, being discontinued in 1995 after having shipped out only 10,000 units. Despite the fact that in today's world, streaming TV shows on your computer is pretty run-of-the-mill, the Macintosh TV was too far ahead of its time and didn't make for a good, affordable option that people could actually get some use out of. Though, Apple eventually turned this around with the Apple TV device. Unfortunately, however, the Macintosh TV was still decidedly one of Apple's biggest failures of all time.