Legacy-free PC

A legacy-free PC is a type of personal computer that lacks a floppy drive, legacy ports, and an Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus (or sometimes, any internal expansion bus at all). According to Microsoft, "The basic goal for these requirements is that the operating system, devices, and end users cannot detect the presence of the following: ISA slots or devices; legacy floppy disk controller (FDC); and PS/2, serial, parallel, and game ports."[1] The legacy ports are usually replaced with Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports. A USB adapter may be used if an older device must be connected to a PC lacking these ports.[2] According to the 2001 edition of Microsoft's PC System Design Guide, a legacy-free PC must be able to boot from a USB device.[3]

Doing away with older, usually more bulky ports and devices allows a legacy-free PC to be much more compact than earlier systems[4] and many fall into the nettop or All in One form factor. Netbooks and Ultrabooks could also be considered a portable form of a legacy-free PC. Legacy-free PCs can be more difficult to upgrade than a traditional beige box PC, and are more typically expected to be replaced completely when they become obsolete.[5] Many legacy-free PCs include modern devices that may be used to replace ones omitted, such as a memory card reader replacing the floppy drive.

As the first decade of the 21st century progressed, the legacy-free PC went mainstream, with legacy ports removed from commonly available computer systems in all form factors. However, the PS/2 keyboard connector still retains some use, as it can offer some uses (e.g. implementation of N-Key rollover) not offered by USB.[6]


Late 1990s

Apple's iMac G3 was the first example of a legacy-free PC[7][8][9] drawing much criticism for its lack of legacy peripherals such as a floppy drive and Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) connector. However, its success popularized USB itself.[10]

From November 1999 to July 2000, Dell's WebPC was an early less-successful Wintel legacy-free PC.


More legacy-free PCs were introduced around 2000 after the prevalence of USB and broadband internet made many of the older ports and devices obsolete.[11] They largely took the form of low-end, consumer systems[2] with the motivation of making computers less expensive, easier to use, and more stable and manageable. The Dell Studio Hybrid, Asus Eee Box and MSI Wind PC are examples of later, more-successful Intel-based legacy-free PCs.

Apple introduced the Apple Modem on October 12, 2005 and removed the internal 56K modem on new computers. The MacBook Air, introduced on January 29, 2008, also omits a built-in SuperDrive and wired Ethernet connectivity that was available on all other Mac computers sold at the time. The SuperDrive would later be removed from all Macs by the end of 2016, while wired Ethernet would later be removed from all MacBook models.


The relaunched MacBook in 2015 dropped features such as the MagSafe charging port and the Secure Digital (SD) memory card reader. It only kept two types of ports: a 3.5mm audio jack and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. This configuration later found its way in the MacBook Pro in 2016, the only difference being that two or four USB ports were included instead of just one. In addition, all MacBook Pro except for the entry-level model replaced the function keys with a Touch Bar. These changes led to criticism because many users utilised the features that Apple had removed.

See also


  1. "Microsoft.com".
  2. Scott Mueller (2003). Upgrading and Repairing PCs. Que Publishing. p. 956. ISBN 978-0-7897-2974-3.
  3. "What does "Legacy" mean in the world of computers?".
  4. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. (21 August 2000). InfoWorld: The Desktop Revolution. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. p. 40. ISSN 0199-6649.
  5. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. (21 August 2000). InfoWorld: The Desktop Revolution. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. p. 39. ISSN 0199-6649.
  6. "PS/2 Or USB? - Five Mechanical-Switch Keyboards: Only The Best For Your Hands".
  7. "Compaq hopes to follow the iMac". Archived from the original on 2006-10-22.
  8. "The PC Follows iMac's Lead".
  9. Hearst Magazines (February 2001). Popular Mechanics: Making Connections. Hearst Magazines. p. 59. ISSN 0032-4558.
  10. "Eight ways the iMac changed computing".
  11. IDG Network World Inc (28 February 2000). Network World: New Breed of Legacy-free PCs is Easy to Love. IDG Network World Inc. p. 51. ISSN 0887-7661.
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