The problem was that Apple's customer base was really bifurcated into two camps back then - students and consumers who wanted an all-in-one, and looked for value, and the professionals who expected to expand their machines. The Cube was too expensive for the former, and too restrictive for the pros.
Getting Cubic now
Yet the unworldly design created a fiercely loyal fanbase who supported the market for add-ons. A succession of strong CPU upgrades, from Powerlogix, Giga and Sonnet, which took the Cube up to dual 1.7Ghz G4. There were also beefier, Quartz Extreme-capable graphics cards made available. Third parties even manufactured larger cubic cases - these were needed for the fans and cooling systems.
Don't overfeed the fish
The community lives on and gathers at Cubeowner.com, where the affection for the machines is evident. Do check out the galleries.
In the UK, you can pick one up for anywhere between £100 and £150 on eBay. The expansion options are limited, ruling out USB 2.0 cards for example, and you'll be stuck with a Parallel ATA drive that needs special drivers for drives larger than 120MB. But it will still run Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger well enough to get some work done. The problem is the bus speed is constrained; at 167Mhz it's ten times slower than a 1Ghz CPU, for example.
My first Cube was late adn DOA, and so was the second. Its replacement arrived two months later, spluttered for three weeks and then expired. All were motherboard blow-outs. It was enough to repel anyone but a fanatic from demanding another, so I didn't.
It was 2006 before I picked up a cheap Cube that had been upgraded to a noisy 800Mhz G4 with thanks to Sonnet. But it did great service for a couple of more years. You just had to leave a note on the desk reminding people not to leave their newspaper on the grill …
The Cube remains a quite bonkers, and quite brilliant expression of a particular design - a really outrageous statement. There was no reason it should ever have been cubic, let alone suspended in mid air. It should never have been made - we should be glad it was. ®
The Cube: Apple's daftest, strangest romance
I too lament the passing of the forward thinking Apple. Gone are the days, not just of innovative design, but also crazy, beyond-the-horizon software. Apple feels safe now, and it has worked really well for them, but sometimes I just want them to come out with something too crazy too succeed and too powerful to be ignored.
I always thought...
It looked more like a tissue/Kleenex box.
If they weren't so damn expensive I would have liked to have one way back in the day. To me, I always thought the cable management was the best part about it - on a desk that's not butted up against a wall it really did look nice sitting there.
As opposed to
BMWs where the enormous vagina is normally behind the wheel
LCD not LED
"The new marvel was launched alongside three new matching monitors, two LED and one CRT..."
As advanced as Apple is, I don't believe they were shipping LED-backlit monitors 10+ years ago.
I ran a 17" Apple Studio LCD on my MDD G4 which while the monitor's performance numbers were not up to 3rd party monitors half its price, side by side the Apple Studio was always easier to read. Also liked the all-in-one cable where video, USB, and power all came on the same connector, including the on/off switch.
My favorite feature was the top-loading optical drive. Here was a physical design that almost demanded that you set your drink on top of it, closely followed by spilling your drink into the open slot.