Bringing a 233 MHz iMac into the Mac OS X Age
- 2008.07.15 - Tip Jar
In one of my early articles on Low End May, My First iMac, I shared the story of how I got my first very own Macintosh and how I fell in love with it.
Today we're talking about that same iMac again.
At the end of My First iMac, I wrote, "Anyway, that iMac now sits right next to my eMac doing pretty much nothing. I hope to install Mac OS 9 later this week and get the ol' girl running."
I didn't do it later that week. In fact, that's about when I got my second B&W G3, so I spent a lot of time playing around with Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X 10.2 on it. When I finished playing with the G3 about a week later, I must have forgotten about the iMac.
But a few days ago, I remembered. I decided I'd get going and resurrect this Mac.
I pressed the power button. "Bong!"
Then nothing. No hard drive noise, no display, nothing. So I opened up the iMac and found that the VRAM stick was missing. Hmm. I must have taken it out for some reason, and now I couldn't find it.
No problem. For my eMac hot rodding project, I used two parts I salvaged from a Dumpster Dell: the hard drive and the SuperDrive. Before I killed the DD however (i.e., put it back in the dumpster), I pulled the crappy old ATI Rage card from it, hoping that it would some day become useful. And it did.
Well, not the card itself, but the VRAM stick. I put it in the iMac and booted once again. "Bong! Welcome to Mac OS." Mac OS 8.1 booted happily on the 233 MHz iMac and System Profiler revealed a 3 GB hard drive and 32 MB of RAM. For Mac OS X or 9, that's not close to enough.
Here's where the eMac comes into the picture. Its original 40 GB drive was unused, and after 2 hours of open heart surgery on the iMac, I managed to install it. Phew. Steve Jobs sure didn't want us tinkering with this computer.
Booting from the iMac's original install discs (Mac OS 8.1), the 40 GB drive showed up on the desktop. I formatted it and shut down the iMac.
Finally, I took a 128 MB stick from a ThinkPad 600X and installed it, giving the iMac a total of 160 MB RAM (128 + the built-in 32).
Now the iMac was upgraded, and I booted from a Mac OS 9.1 CD. It installed, and now my first iMac was back on track again - and it runs very nicely.
The processor (233 MHz G3) is, sadly, a little slow, so I can't use it for heavier tasks like Photoshop and certain games. However it's a great machine for web browsing and writing. I also play the kind of old games I play on my B&Ws on it - like System Shock and Duke Nukem.
I wanted to try Mac OS X on it. In a previous article, Mac OS X 10.2 'Jaguar' can Unleash the Power of G3 iBooks, I said that Jaguar was the best OS for G3s, so I installed it. It was surprisingly snappy on this iMac, and everything ran quickly. Even with just 160 MB, Jaguar was great.
I can run those old games in Classic Mode, but I prefer to boot directly into Mac OS 9; it gives me a nice Classic Mac feeling that Mac OS X will never provide.
Now I love this Mac even more then when I first got it. It's awesome. And even though 233 MHz is far from impressive, it does the job. The only flaw I can find on the iMac is the relatively slow bus speed.
By the way, the 3 GB drive came to use again as a spare drive in my B&W G3.
An old iMac can do more and be more useful than you might think.
If you find Carl's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.
Other articles by Carl Nygren
- Is Wirecard a Real Alternative to PayPal?, 2008.08.07. PayPal has an established worldwide presence, but Wirecard is offered by a real bank and has lower fees. Any drawbacks?
- Is Windows XP better than Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger'?, 2008.07.28. Vista is a bust, and Leopard won't run on G3 Macs. How do legacy G3 and G4 Macs with Tiger compare with a fairly modern 2 GHz PC running Windows XP?
- Bringing a 233 MHz iMac into the Mac OS X 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.
- More in the Classic Macs in the Intel Age index.
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