When the Mac Plus Changed from Beige to Platinum

The Macintosh Plus was Apple’s longest produced 68k Macintosh. It was introduced in January 1986 and discontinued in October 1990. During that timeframe Apple introduced a new design look for its products called the Snow White design language, exemplified in the striped case designs of the Macintosh II and SE. They also changed the case color from Beige to Platinum.

Mac Plus Beige and Platinum

I recently acquired a pair of these Macs, one in each style. Side by side the color difference is quite notable. The very first Macs were beige in color (officially known as Putty), not quite as yellow as they’ve become today but still definitely a shade reminiscent of old khakis. The original Macintosh, Mac 512k and Mac Plus all used this color case. Then in 1987 Apple started using the lighter color they called Platinum.

Apple kept the Mac Plus around as the low end model when the SE was released (it was the cheap iPhone of its day), but they didn’t want the system to look outdated next to newer machines. So Platinum it was. In addition to changing the color, as Apple began to offer 2MB and 4MB configurations, the label on the back dropped the 1MB memory designation. And the shipping box itself also changed, from one using a color product photo and six-color Apple logo to a black & white drawing and a red logo.

Mac Plus Beige Platinum Rear Panels

With SCSI and expandable RAM the Plus was the first truly successful Mac design. Many remained in service well into the PowerPC era. Today Apple would phase in a color change along with a new model release (e.g., the black iPhone becomes space grey), but back in the day things were a bit more casual.

What color is your Mac Plus?

10 responses to “When the Mac Plus Changed from Beige to Platinum”

  1. Yuhong Bao says:

    “With SCSI and expandable RAM the Plus was the first truly successful Mac design.”
    Which is also the first post-Steve Jobs Mac design.

  2. Serena says:

    is there any difference between a mac 128k and the converted to plus?
    Im planning to buy a 128k mac for my friend but I can tell the difference between the two .

    • Adam Rosen says:

      Yes, the easiest way to tell is to look at the ports on the logic board. The 128k Mac used all D-shaped multipin connectors, with two 9-pin versions on the right hand side for the serial and modem ports. The Plus switched to round mini-DIN 8 pin connectors for these ports. It also has a very large 25-pin D connector for a SCSI drive, which the 128k doesn’t have.

  3. Jeff Graber says:

    Mine’s beige…I mean putty. And it still works. Greets everyone that walks into our store. ;-)

  4. Joheván Asbún says:

    Hi Everyone! I Have a Putty (beige) Mac Plus, and it´s upgraded to its maximum Power, powered with 4 MB Ram, and a external Rodime Plus 20 MB Hard Disc. It´s working perfectly and I would like to sell it as an antique. I also have a midi console for working on music development.

    Please help me if any of you know its estimated price for selling.
    Thank you very much

  5. Nate says:

    I’m not sure if my Mac plus is a regular plus or if it’s platinum, does anyone know a significant difference between the two besides the colour?

    • Adam Rosen says:

      Yes, the label on the rear of the computer is different. The original Putty colored units say Macintosh Plus 1Mb, the newer Platinum models just say Macintosh Plus. See photo above.

      • Austen says:

        I’ve seen Platinum models that still had the “1mb” moniker. Is there any other, more definitive way to tell? Like motherboard revisions or something?

  6. Zachary says:

    The beige macintosh is actually much more yellow than it should be. It needs retrobright.

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