My Old iMac

by Tanner Godarzi Feb 16, 2007

The iMac was Apple’s successful attempt at jump-starting the failing company. The machine had the Internet and simplicity in mind, sporting an all-in-one setup and eliminating excessive wires. The iMac has evolved greatly since its debut but I still consider the original iMac G3 one of the greatest Macs ever.

As cool as the iMac G4, G5, and Core Duo/Core 2 Duo are, the iMac G3 still appeals to me. Though it was bulky it represented one of the greatest moments in Apple history; the iMac was Apple’s attempt to revolutionize the computer industry and forgo soon to be obsolete technology. This bold step would spell the end for beige cases and move onto more modern designs.

What was Apple’s effort to get back into the computer market was also my first glimpse of the Mac platform. During the beginning of my second grade year in 1999, we received 40 new Blueberry iMacs (Slot Loading) to replace the aging PowerMac 7100s throughout the computer lab. Of course at the time I couldn’t care less what it was, as long as I could play games and browse the web I was happy.  Throughout my time at School (same one for 4 years) I dabbled between Macs and PCs. The iMacs and soon to be eMacs were used for the K-4th Grade computer labs (those Macs took quite the beating) and Windows XP based PCs were used in the 5th-8th Grade computer labs. My final years at that school only showed me one more Mac, one type of Mac that no others except faculty could use, the 17-inch iMac G4. Those things blew me away. It was very rare that any kid was allowed into the faculty offices and since I knew most of the teachers high up they allowed me to come in during the morning before class. There were about 30, one for each person and they were dubbed “iLamps”.

Fast forward to 2006, I’m a huge Apple fan. However towards the end of 2006 I was greeted by a very unexpected Mac, the same one I had used in 2nd Grade.  I had acquired a Blueberry iMac (Slot Loading). When my dad brought the machine home from his business I was excited at getting a new Mac even if it was old but was doubtful it would even work. I plugged the iMac in, connected a keyboard and mouse, and turned it on. I waited patiently for a minute, then two minutes, then three minutes. The iMac was doing nothing! The power button indicated the iMac was on, the Hard Drive was running, but the screen would not turn on at all. I left the machine in my room for a while and returned later. The Mac OS9 desktop was loaded and ready to go, and I was nostalgic. Playing around with Mac OS 9 was great, I was literally holding a piece of history that was too heavy and thank god it had a handle. I got a kick out of the control strip, I couldn’t see how the OS 9 faithful ever put up with it! I even got a kick out of the fact that it ran Virtual PC with Microsoft Windows 95 (which oddly enough was the first Operating System I ever used).

That iMac came decked out in a Blueberry case, with 64 MBs of RAM and 6 GBs of Hard Drive space; however, it lacked Firewire ports and a VGA port for screen mirroring. OS 9 was fun but it was time to get serious. Screwdriver, RAM, and Hard Drive in hand I proceeded to tear open the iMac and expose its guts. I installed a moderately new Maxtor 80GB Hard Drive salvaged from an old Sony TIVO and slapped in 384 MBs of RAM. The next part was to install OS X 10.2 and later OS X 10.3. I probably should’ve stopped and read a manual because I forgot to install a Firmware Update which caused me to waste 6 hours troubleshooting the machine. I waited for Jaguar to finish its installation process and was eager to try it out. Once done I made a user account for me and my brother and installed all necessary Applications including Software Updates from a burned CD. I turned the machine off for the night and was greeted with a very, and I mean very, bad scenario.

Like I stated earlier, I should’ve upgraded the iMac’s firmware. Did I do it? No. Was I angry and confused? You bet! My screen was covered in a reddish haze. There was no way I could nuke a machine that fast. Thinking back to the old family saying “if it doesn’t work, kick it” I tried something less dangerous, shaking it violently. I turned on the iMac once more and what happens this time, the screen is covered in a blue haze. I convinced myself it was a hardware problem, that the video cables were going out. However, I was determined not to let my iMac become a boat anchor, or a fish tank. After a quick search I found my problem, the firmware needed to be upgraded. However, in order to upgrade I had to downgrade then upgrade and then upgrade and then finally upgrade my Firmware.

Reverting to OS 9 wasn’t the greatest experience, I was too used to Mac OS X. After OS 9 was installed the Firmware had to be upgraded as soon as possible, and I had no real time to get acquainted with my new Mac. But in the realm of computers, not even Apple can make everything easy. In order to run the Firmware Updater I needed 9.2.2 but was stuck on 9.0. Downloading 9.2.2 surely would solve all my problems but nope, 9.1 is needed in order to install 9.2.2. I got through upgrading and upgrading and upgrading and upgrading and then, as Steve Jobs would say,  boom. I had Jaguar up and running. I sat there comparing my Mac Mini’s desktop and my iMac’s desktop, and Pinstripes beat Brushed Metal hands-down in my book.

The iMac took a place at the kitchen table and even claimed it as its own, taking up the entire table. I loved this machine a lot, it served my needs in a simplistic way and functioned for basic Internet usage, word processing, and music playback. Many of my Blog posts have been conceived on that iMac starting out in Microsoft Word.
A few months later my mom decided to move and unfortunately we had no room for the iMac. My mom did not want it in the kitchen (and for good reason) or the bedroom. I had no place to put it in my room or the living room.

We agreed that the iMac had to be taken to my dad’s house. However, that car trip would be that iMac’s last. I once again hooked up the iMac and pressed the power button. No startup chime. Once more I pressed it. No startup chime. I tilted the machine to check if the power cord was plugged in all the way. All of a sudden the iMac turns on and starts to boot up. I was glad it wasn’t broken…yet. The iMac was in a weird angle so I moved it to it’s original position but it turned off. I thought I hit the power cord loose but tilting it back turned it on again. I was puzzled, as my iMac hadn’t shown any signs of being possessed or under the control of someone else. I once more tilted the machine and pressed the power button.


Once more I pressed it.


I moved it some more.


I moved it around the room and tried different outlets.


I moved it one last time.


I finally gave up: my iMac was dead. The Power Supply probably went out during the car trip. I will always remember that iMac.


  • I thought I was still young at 22 so it is so strange to hear you say that Windows 95 was the first operating system you used. I had to put up with DOS, Windows 3.1, and Windows 3.11 before I got a taste of Windows 95. My school also got the first iMacs but we also had Macintoshs before them.

    Graham had this to say on Feb 16, 2007 Posts: 24
  • Wow, great story.  I have never ever owned a Windows or MSDOS machine and I am almost 50 years old.  I have only owned Apples and Macs.  I have never had to work on Window driven machines either.  Sure I have mucked on a few here and there but usually to help my hapless mom (Who would call a TV repair man to plug in her “Not working Set”.) with her stale beige box.

    I still own a Tray loading Bondi Blue and a Flower Power slot-loading limited edition iMac.  Also a 1Ghz eMac and a Powerbook 15 Ultra though I wish it was at least 1.87Ghz instead of the 1.67.  That’s the difference between 480p and 720p.

    As for the Bondi it has 198 ram and can boot into X.1 Though it’s not always happy about it in terms of speed.  Still has it’s original HD but the Flower Power which was at least 4-5 years newer than the Bondi had to have it’s HD replaced.

    Well not that anyone asked or cared but that’s my take on older macs… though I wish I had now kept my SE’s.

    guy steele had this to say on Feb 16, 2007 Posts: 1
  • I’m with the first commentor—I thought I was pretty young at 21.

    My first system was a Macintosh Plus that my dad bought for my mom, so that she could write her Masters’ thesis. I think he got it in around 1990. We used it until they could afford to upgrade again…in 1997, at which point we swapped to a Quadra 605.

    That beast hung around until my dad decided that “Apple was dead in the water”, and he came home with a shiny new Tiny computer running Windows 98. This began the long string of largely awful and unmemorable corporate Windows boxes that paraded through the house.

    Then, last summer, I bought a shiny, new Macbook. My dad used it once—he was hooked. Within three months, he’d gotten matching MBs for my mom and sister, and discharged the two XP boxes, in favor of a beautiful pair of 20” c2d iMacs.

    The power of Apple: it’s a beautiful thing.

    mrefficiency had this to say on Feb 16, 2007 Posts: 2
  • Goes to show the power of actually using one… Hmmm… Apple you listening? Do I hear an Apple Road show?

    My 2yr old is using one of our G3 iMac’s. He picked it up quite easily. He cracks up when it talks. He heard me talking to it (open this or that kinda thing-speach recognition) and for a week was yelling at it the same kinda thing, that was a trip!

    xwiredtva had this to say on Feb 16, 2007 Posts: 172
  • Heh, I’m 26 and I also had to put up with the pre-GUI OS’s. It’s kind of crazy when you look at how little time has passed and compare to how much the technology has changed. At this point I think we take it for granted, especially younger people than myself.

    My 400MHz DVse iMac is sitting in a closet wrapped in plastic awaiting some sort of use. It needs a hard drive, which I have plenty of, but it may also need a new optical drive - I don’t have enough care to run it through tests when I could be spending time on my working Macs.

    As for running OS X, that 400MHz G3 iMac of mine was happily chugging away with 10.4 installed.

    Waa had this to say on Feb 16, 2007 Posts: 110
  • I’m extremely emotionally attached to my first Mac, an iMac G4. I’ve had that Mac forever, and I love it more than anything. It lost my Power Mac and it both lost their power sources in a surge and it was devastating—I ended up replacing the power sources, but it was still a very, very hard time for me. I understand your pain… I think G4-era Macs are pretty much the best computers ever; They’re good enough for any job I could ever need, from iMovie to InDesign, and the case design is beautiful. I wish Apple would make Intel iMacs with cases like the iMac G4, I’d buy one in a minute. And the Mirrored Drive Door Power Mac G4’s rock! They accent my room perfectly…

    Anyways, I understand the tragicness of you loss and hope that you’ll find another Mac to fill that gap in your life…

    stephencolon had this to say on Feb 20, 2007 Posts: 15
  • Stephen,

    I love the design of the iMac G4s (or iLamps as I call them) after the G3s. Even the curved design of the PowerMac G4 series is extremely elegant. I am actually looking for an old PowerMac G3 Blue and White at my local Swapmeets, I have seen them before go under 50 dollars and most do work.

    Tanner Godarzi had this to say on Feb 20, 2007 Posts: 70
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