On October 17, 1998, Apple released Mac OS 8.5 and the first update to the popular Bondi iMac. CPU speed, base RAM, and most other specs were identical to the original iMac.
In addition to coming with OS 8.5 installed, the Revision B iMac incorporates the faster Rage Pro graphics chip, has 6 MB VRAM, and uses the power button as a reset button for easier crash recovery.
The iMac’s firmware is stored on the same card that holds the CPU and memory chips. If firmware hasn’t been updated and your iMac is acting up, swapping the CPU card from a known working iMac will usually fix things. Then update the firmware in the other iMac.
- iMac speed tip: If you have Virtual Memory on and only 32 MB RAM, set VM to 64 MB for faster performance.
- Apple recommends iMac Update 1.1 for use with Mac OS 8.5 and 8.5.1. Note that OS 8.5.x must be installed before the 1.1 update is installed.
- According to Apple, iMac Update 1.2 should be installed on all iMac computers used in NetBoot client environments.
- If you are running Mac OS 8.6, Mac OS ROM Update 1.0 should be installed. You must have 8.6 installed before running this update.
- For more information on firmware updates, see iMac: When to Install Available Updaters.
If you have a hard drive larger than 8 GB, you should partition it so that the first partition is under 8 GB in size (for simplicity, we suggest 7 GB). Failure to do this could eventually result in an unbootable computer, as all System files must be within the first 8 GB of drive space. These Macs can work successfully with larger drives for some time, but once a System files goes outside of the first 8 GB of space, you’ll have nothing but problems.
- Got an iMac? Join our iMac Group or iMacs & eMacs Forum.
- Our Mac OS 8 and 9 Forum is for those using Mac OS 8 or 9.
- Our Mac OS 9 Group is for those using Mac OS 9, either natively or in Classic Mode.
- Our Puma Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.1.
- Our Jaguar Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.2.
- Our Panther Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.3.
- Our Early OS X Forum is for those using Mac OS X 10.3 and earlier.
Mac OS X
If you have a hard drive over 8 GB in size, you must partition it or you will not be able to install Mac OS X. If you are creating the partition within OS X, it must be smaller than 7.4 GB as reported by Disk Utility (because sometimes a GB is billion bytes and sometimes it’s 1,073,741,824 bytes); we suggest simply setting it at 7 GB to avoid having to redo the whole installation if the partition ends up bigger than specified (it happens). Mac OS X must be completely within the first 8 GB of space on your hard drive or you will not be able to run OS X.
Tray-loading iMacs cannot boot from USB drives (see Apple Knowledge Base Article #58430, USB Info and Benefits of Dual-Channel USB).
Non-Apple upgrades and peripherals (such as unsupported USB devices, replacement drives, and third-party memory) may cause problems when installing or booting into Mac OS X.
Be sure that your iMac’s firmware is up to date before you install Mac OS X, and read and follow all of Apple’s “Read Before You Install” instructions to increase the likelihood of getting OS X installed and running on the first try.
The classic Mac OS identifies some 64 MB memory cards as only 32 MB, however OS X will correctly identify them and use all of their memory.
NOTE: The Sonnet HARMONi upgrade card, which includes a faster CPU and FireWire, was incompatible with early versions of Mac OS X 10.4. The FireWire port would tie up 100% of CPU resources. This problem was fixed in version 10.4.7 (if not earlier). If you have a HARMONi card that’s had this issue, be aware that updating to 10.4.7 or newer should fix it.
- released on 1998.10.17 at $1,299; replaced by Revision C iMac 1999.01.05
- requires Mac OS 8.5 or later, 10.3.x officially supported, 10.4.x can generally be installed using XpostFacto 4
- CPU: 233 MHz PPC 750
- bus: 66 MHz
- performance: 4.5 (estimated, relative to 7500/100); 7.8, BYTEmark; 109.5, Speedometer 3.06; 15.2, Speedometer 4.02; 719, MacBench 5 (about 3% faster than Rev. A)
see Benchmarks: iMac Rev. B for more details
- RAM: 32 MB, possibly expandable to 768 MB using two DIMM sockets, uses same SDRAM SO-DIMM as PowerBook G3, top DIMM socket accepts 2″ DIMM, bottom socket takes 1.5″ DIMM. All tray-loading iMacs work with modules up to 128 MB. Field reports indicate that they will work with 256 MB and 512 MB modules as long as they are “CL2″ modules. With a 512 MB module and a low-profile 256 MB module, it’s theoretically possible that these iMacs could support 768 MB of RAM.
- VRAM: 6 MB SGRAM
- Video: supports resolutions of 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 1024 x 768 using ATI Rage Pro chip set, will support resolutions to 1600 x 1200 on an external monitor
- screen: 15″ CRT (13.8″ viewable) multiscan to 1024 x 768
- L2 cache: 512 KB 2:1 backside cache
- hard drive: 4 GB EIDE drive. Maximum IDE drive size is 128 GB without third-party support. See How Big a Hard Drive Can I Put in My iMac, eMac, Power Mac, PowerBook, or iBook? for your options.
- CD-ROM: 24x maximum throughput (32x on some later units)
- SCSI: none
- PCI slots: none
- PMC (mezzanine/Perch) slots: one
- microphone: built in (above monitor), standard 3.5mm minijack compatible with line-level input including Apple’s PlainTalk microphone
- USB: 2 USB 1.1 ports on a single controller, require OCHI compatible devices (some early USB peripherals may not be compliant)
- modem: built-in v.90 56k modem
- ethernet: 10/100Base-T
- WiFi: AirPort not supported
- infrared: 4 Mbps IrDA 1.1
- power: 200W
- PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
- height: 15.8 in/39.5 cm
- width: 15.2 in/38.0 cm
- depth: 17.6 in/44.0 cm
- weight: 38.1 lb/17.3 kg
- part number: M6709
- family number: M4984A
- machine ID: iMac,1
- Best iMac G3 deals.
- Upgrades for the tray-loading iMac, 2003.05.12 (since updated). Overview of memory, hard drive, CD-RW, and CPU upgrade options for the Rev. A-D iMac.
- Best classic Mac OS deals. Best online prices for System 6, 7.1, 7.5.x, Mac OS 7.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 9.0, 9.2.2, and other versions.
- Best Mac OS X 10.0-10.3 deals. Best online prices for Mac OS X 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3.
- WiFi hardware compatible with desktop Macs running OS X, MetaPhyzx, Mac Daniel, 2009.03.11. USB, ethernet, PCI, and other wireless hardware compatible with Mac OS X.
- What’s the best version of OS X for my Mac?, Ian R Campbell, The Sensible Mac, 2008.02.28. Which version of Mac OS X is best for your hardware depends on several factors.
- Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to Mac OS 9, 2008 edition, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.05.12. Declared dead by Steve Jobs 6 years ago, Mac OS 9 remains fast and stable, but Classic software hasn’t kept up with Web changes. What Macs support OS 9, where to buy it, and how to update to version 9.2.2.
- WiFi adapters for desktop Macs running Mac OS 9, MetaPhyzx, Mac Daniel, 2009.02.10. USB, ethernet, PCI, and other wireless hardware compatible with the Classic Mac OS.
- Optimized software builds bring out the best in your Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac’s Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.30. Applications compiled for your Mac’s CPU can load more quickly and run faster than ones compiled for universal use.
- Is it worth maxing the RAM in old G3 and G4 Macs?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2009.04.15. Increasing memory can make your old Mac faster and make you more productive, but it probably won’t improve resale value by the amount you spend.
- The iMac Legacy: The G3 Era, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.08.15. 10 years ago today, the original iMac went on sale. One of the most popular lines of computers ever, the G3 iMac would be Apple staples for nearly five years.
- iMac: Installing Memory, Apple. Step-by-step instructions for getting into a tray-loading iMac and replacing its memory.
- Know your Mac’s upgrade options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Overclocking a tray-loading iMac G3, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2009.02.10. Instructions for overclocking a Rev. A through Rev. D iMac. Proceed at your own risk.
- Practical iMac G3 applications and upgrades, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.22. Used G3 iMacs are going for a song these days, but are they worth spending money on, let along upgrading?
- 4 GB RAM problem persists after firmware update, TriBook concept MacBook, DIY Mac netbook, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2008.12.19. Also using third-party monitors with ‘Late 2008′ MacBooks, MacMagSaver protects MagSafe cord, $25 802.11g USB adapter, bargain ‘Books from $500 to $2,299, and more.
- The ‘better safe than sorry’ guide to installing Mac OS X updates, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.12.16. Most users encounter no problems using Software Update, but some preflight work and using the Combo updater means far less chance of trouble.
- Why you should partition your Mac’s hard drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ‘emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Old Macs in the new economy, John Hatchett, Recycled Computing, 2008.11.25. “We are the kings of making our computers last, last, and last some more.”
- How to clone Mac OS X to a new hard drive, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2008.10.07. Whether you want to put a bigger, faster drive in your Mac or clone OS X for use in another Mac, here’s the simple process.
- Getting the most from your G3 Mac, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2008.10.03. Most G3 Macs can be upgraded so they can run Mac OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’ quite nicely. Here’s how.
- Taking apart a tray-loading iMac, John Hatchett, Recycled Computing, 2008.09.29. There are a few tricks to getting into a tray tray-loading iMac, whether it’s to upgrade the computer or strip it for parts.
- Are G3 Macs still viable work machines?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2008.09.08. For basic tasks – writing, email, and using the Web – a G3 Mac with Mac OS X 10.4 and sufficient memory provides plenty of power.
- Overclocking a Mac mini got me hooked on souping up Macs, Adam Geller, My First Mac, 2008.09.04. Stories of hot rodding iBooks, G3 iMacs, and PCI Power Macs on the cheap.
- Buying glasses online, iCab on G3 iMacs, USB adapter for WallStreet, long term support, and more, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.16. Also whether a 1.67 GHz PowerBook is a sensible choice, midrange or top-end the best value, Opera can change the way you work on the Web, and more.
- Bringing a 233 MHz iMac into the Mac OS X age, Carl Nygren, Classic Macs in the Intel Age, 2008.07.15. Upgraded with 128 MB additional RAM and a larger hard drive, the iMacs was ready for Mac OS X 10.2 ‘Jaguar’ – and runs it very nicely.
- Turn your old Mac into a web server with Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, Jason Packer, Macs in the Enterprise, 2008.07.09. Step-by-step instructions for installing and configuring Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP on an older Mac.
- Turn your old Mac into a website server with free open source software, Jason Packer, Macs in the Enterprise, 2008.07.02. By installing Linux without a GUI, your old Mac can dedicate all of its resources to running Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
- Praise for Opera, low cost iBook mobo replacement, IrDA and IRtalk, WaMCom recommended, and more, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.06.18. Also the use of ‘compleat’, booting from CD, new Toshiba 1.8″ drives too thick for MBA, and PowerPC support and Snow Leopard.
- Mac OS X 10.2 ‘Jaguar’ can unleash the power of G3 iBooks, Carl Nygren, Classic Macs in the Intel Age, 2008.06.17. After pulling a bad stick of RAM, the Dual USB iBook didn’t have enough memory for Tiger or Linux. But even with just 128 MB of RAM, Jaguar did the job.
- My first iMac, Carl Nygren, My First Mac, 2008.05.19. There were a couple of Bondi blue iMacs in school that weren’t even plugged in. Intriguing….
- More G4 upgrade advice, secure disk wipes, 500 MHz iMacs with Tiger in action, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.05.09. The importance of securely clearing your hard drive before you pass on your Mac, Pismo and closed lid mode, G3 iMacs in the classroom, and more thoughts on upgrading G4 Power Macs.
- Power Mac G5 vs. Intel Mac mini, video thumbnails lost in migration, OCR software, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.03.17. Also HARMONi compatibility with Mac OS X 10.4, a dual processor G4 auction, Internet access by digital phone, and more.
- Panther faster than Jaguar, unstable browsers, best low cost Mac for video work, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.03.04. Also Tiger on tray-loading iMacs, firmware updates, LC 575 won’t boot, booting from Compact Flash, and big hard drives on G4 Power Macs.
- 3 ways to better YouTube viewing on older Macs, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.02.06. Watching YouTube videos in your browser on G3 Macs can be painfully slow, but there are several ways to improve your YouTube viewing experience.
- MacBook Air vs. ThinkPad X300, moving from MacBook to PowerBook, USB 2.0 cables, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.01.22. Also another crumbling G3 iMac, a Rev. B iMac brought back from the dead, ‘fencing in’ type in HTML, and Leopard on an AGP Power Mac G4.
- How the G3 iMac crumbles, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2008.01.18. The green light of death, failing powerboards, and crumbling plastics are some of the problems old CRT iMacs face as they age.
- Lawsuits getting out of hand, G3 iMac upgrade resources, Leopard on a 400 MHz TiBook, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.01.08. Also wondering why Mac OS X 10.5 won’t run on the ‘Yikes!’ Power Mac G4 and AltiVec just works.
- 512 MB in tray-loading iMacs, partitioning iBook (FireWire) hard drive, value of Kanga, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.01.03. Also a source for Mac IIfx SCSI terminators, ongoing problems with a Rev. B iMac, and need to match screen size to printed output.
- OS X on Flash in CardBus, Quartz Extreme benefits, fix or unload a Performa 550, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.12.13. Also suggestions for fixing a troublesome iMac, locating an ADB keyboard, finding old versions of BBEdit Lite, and dealing with ligature problems.
- iMac repair page, Jason W., Wiley Trade Group
- Hot so Reset the Cuda/PMU in a G3 iMac, How to Upgrade Your iMac
- Bringing G3 iMacs and other G3 Macs into the Tiger Age, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2007.12.07. Tips on hard drives, memory, WiFi, and getting Mac OS X 10.4 installed on G3 iMacs and other older G3 Macs.
- iMac Rev. B nightmares, thousands vs. millions of colors performance, and unsupported Leopard, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.12.11. Problems restoring a Rev. B iMac, color depth and graphics performance, and more unsupported Leopard reports.
- 8 GB partition issue impacts OS 9, RAM for G3 iMacs, success with Open Firmware hack, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.12.10. Partitions over 8 GB can cause problems in the classic Mac OS, more unsupported Leopard reports, another vote against the iPhone, and millions vs. thousands of colors.
- Reasons for sticking with the Classic Mac OS, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2007.10.30. Whether it’s the simplicity, elegance, speed, or desire not to replace lots of expensive hardware, there are lots of good reasons for sticking with Mac OS 9.
- Road Apple nominations, OS X 10.5 on MDD Power Macs, UMPCs and Apple, and a broken power button, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.10.12. Whether some additional Macs merit the ‘Road Apple’ label, Leopard on Mirrored Drive Doors Power Macs, the usefulness of ultrasmall computers, and dealing with an iMac with a broken power button.
- The future of G3 iMacs in the Age of Leopard, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2007.09.13. From August 1998 through December 2001, G3 iMacs were Apple’s hot consumer computers. Which ones are best for OS X, and which should be avoided?
- Tiger on a G3 iMac and Pismo, running OS 9 from a flash drive, 7200 rpm drive heat, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.09.13. Also iMac upgrade advice, iBook G3 video chip resoldering, and how to get your website indexed by Google.
- External video options for a G3 iMac, Dan Knight and Kris Finkenbinder, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.07.25. Many G3 iMacs are fuzzy at 1024 x 768. What are the options for connecting an external monitor and disabling the built-in display?
- Software to darken iMac display, columnist returns iPhone, Logitech introduces air mouse, and more, Mac News Review, 2007.07.20. Also a USB turntable for turning your record albums into MP3s, a retractable flash drive, iPhone: The Missing Manual, Parallels Desktop 3 a major update, and more.
- Making new Mac users with old iMacs and Tiger, buying newer vs. upgrading, booting Compact Flash, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.05.29. Getting seniors online with old iMacs, buying a newer Mac rather than upgrading an old one, booting PowerBooks from Compact Flash, and questions about video conferencing.
- The truth about CRTs and shock danger, Tom Lee, Online Tech Journal, 2007.05.22. You’ve been warned that CRT voltage can injure and even kill. The truth is that this danger is overstated – and takes attention away from a greater danger.
- Why Apple must continue G3 support in Mac OS X 10.5 ‘Leopard’, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2007.05.08. “We’re worried about what happens if Apple unchecks that box in Xcode to include the instructions necessary to run OS X on G3 processors at all.”
- Daystar offers G4 CPU upgrade for 1st-gen iMacs, Peter Cohen, Macworld, 2007.03.29. “Daystar Technology on Thursday announced the XLR8 400 MAChSpeed G4 IMTL Kit. The $99 kit enables you to upgrade your original iMac with a G4-class processor operating at 400 MHz.”
- Is Ubuntu Linux a sensible alternative for Mac users?, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.09.18. If your Mac can run OS X decently, is there any reason to try Ubuntu Linux? If it can’t run OS X well, is Ubuntu a reasonable choice?
- Is the G3 still a practical choice?, Matthew Jay, Macs to the Max, 2006.08.10. Although the G3 is several generations old, it has enough horsepower for most of the things we do on our computers.
- Customizing Mac OS 9, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.08.01. Fiddling with themes, picking a browser, and making the Classic Mac OS work just the way you want it to.
- Making the move from Jaguar (OS X 10.2) to Panther (10.3), Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.04.11. One advantage of Apple’s “no upgrades” policy for OS X – someone can give you their old copy after upgrading without worrying about violating their license.
- Many G3 Macs now considered vintage, Mac News Review, 2006.03.31.
- Web browser tips for the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.01.03. Tips on getting the most out of WaMCom, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, iCab, Opera, and WannaBe using the classic Mac OS.
- The best browsers for PowerPC Macs and the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2005.12.16. Two browsers stand out from the pack: iCab 3 is modern and remains under development, and WaMCom brings Mozilla to older Macs.
- How Big a Hard Drive Can I Put in My iMac, eMac, Power Mac, PowerBook, or iBook?, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2005.10.24. A lot of older Macs don’t know how to deal with drives over 128 GB in size. We look at three options.
- Can I install the hard drive and CPU from my Power Mac G4 in an iMac?, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2005.02.21. The iMac uses a standard IDE hard drive, but you can’t plug in a G4 pulled from a Power Mac. However, there are other CPU upgrade options.
- Upgrading an old iMac to Mac OS X, William Porter, TidBITS, 2005.02.07. Preparing a pair of 2001 iMacs for OS X and then getting Jaguar up and running on them.
- Which iMac is it? A quick guide to differentiating CRT G3 iMacs, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2005.02.02. Two form factors, nine CPU speeds, and fifteen different colors. How can anyone keep this straight?
- Is the tray loading iMac a good choice for OS X?, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2004.09.07. With prices starting under US$200, is a tray-loading iMac a good value for running OS X?
- MCE slot-loading drive replaces original iMac drive, Mac Minute, 2004.06.14. “MCE Technologies is now offering an internal 24x slot-loading CD-R/RW drive for replacing the tray-loading CD-ROM drive in the original iMac (233, 266, and 333 MHz).”
- Resurrecting a Revision A 233 iMac, Guy Hemmings, 2003.03.30. Dead CRT? Not a problem. Build the rest into a new case, add a monitor, and get back to work.
- Upgrading your G3 iMac, Evan Kleiman, Mac Daniel, 2003.03.07. Three types of upgrades that can improve your old iMac for less than the cost of buying a new one.
- 16x CD-RW for tray loading iMacs, MCE. Burn CD-Rs at 16x, CD-RW at 10x, and read CDs at 24x in oldest iMacs – $199.
- Rage at being left behind, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2001.12.24. It’s official – Apple doesn’t plan to support graphics acceleration for any Mac with ATI Rage video.
- OS X graphics speedup with early ATI video, Mac OS X: Optimizing for Earlier ATI Graphics Accelerators, 2001.03.09. ATI Rage II+, IIc, Pro, and LT Pro faster displaying thousands of colors, not millions.
- Upgrading an iMac, Chris Lawson, 2000.09.18
- iMAXpowr G3 and G4, MyMac, 2000.09. In many real-world tests, the G3/466 “felt quicker” than the G4/433 – something LEM has maintained for some time.
- Guide to iMac CPU upgrades
- The dubious economics of processor upgrades, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2000.02.07. Even if you can upgrade the CPU, should you?
- Hands On: iMAXpowr G3/466, Insanely Great Mac, 2/1. First CPU upgrade for the iMac (Rev. A-D).
- The iMac channel
- The iMac List, an email list iMac users
- The iMac NewsPage
- iMac 233 MHz Technical Specifications, AppleCare Knowledge Base
- UniSwitch, iMacButton, and iSafe makes resetting much easier.
- A more conventionally shaped mouse. We’re huge fans of the Contour UniMouse.
- You cannot plug the iPod shuffle directly into the iMac’s USB port – it will not fit. It will not charge if plugged into a keyboard USB port or an unpowered USB hub. To charge it while using it with your iMac, you must us a USB extension cable, powered USB hub, iPod shuffle dock, or a USB power adapter.
- iMac iNfo (1998.08.30, dead link) noted that brownouts can put the iMac into a coma. Solution: Buy an uninterruptible power supply. You must have the keyboard plugged directly into an iMac USB port to boot with the power key; it will not work if the keyboard is attached to a hub.
- You cannot boot the iMac from an external USB drive.
- The iMac loads the MacOS Toolbox into RAM, unlike other Macs which use it from ROM. You lose the use of 3 MB of memory but gain faster performance.