My First Mac

Beige Is Fine

Torsten Enn - 2001.03.27

My first Mac is my current Mac, a beige G3/266. It was almost state of the art when I bought it at the beginning of the iMac hype in the summer of 1998. I saw the iMac on the magazine titles and became hooked to the Macintosh world.

I was always interested in the Macintosh world and admired the powerful machines which for me represented the head of technology. Unfortunately, they were unaffordably expensive here in Germany (almost double of the prices in the U.S.), so I used Amigas (the poor man's Mac - it has its reason that 50% of all Amigas were sold in Germany, the Mac was a tool for graphic designers) for more than 10 years.

Since Amiga's manufacturer went bankrupt, the Amiga's destiny was to be doomed. In 1995 I "upgraded" to a Wintel laptop, since I needed it for work (and PowerBooks were still out of the price range).

The iMac hype in July 1998 brought back my interest in the Mac, and I decided I wanted one. The iMac was not in the shops before September 5th, but I wanted a more versatile machine I can open and upgrade anyway, so I opted for a beige G3. These had been surprisingly affordable compared to the Macs I remembered; I could even afford the medium 266 MHz model. The PowerBooks were still out of my price range, though (and have become much more affordable since then, I actually bought an iBook in the meantime, because I used to be on the road a lot the last two years)

Since then I have used this machine quite a lot, and therefore learned quite a lot. It became my entrance to the information highway (I had been deeply in the BBS scene before), proved to be a very good workhorse, and is a powerful number cruncher for a geek like me who loves playing with technology. I have upgraded the hard disk and the RAM (and over the years added some peripherals like printer, CD writer, scanner, graphics tablet, and a USB card for the latter two), but the processor is still the old one. I don't feel the need to upgrade. The machine might be low-end compared with today's models, but it is still fast enough for everything I do.

Yes, of course, I could buy a new G4 or spend a grand on a CPU upgrade, but will I get three times the use of a machine three times as fast? I doubt that.

I use my 266 MHz G3 for the usual stuff like emails, web browsing, writing a few letters, keeping track of my bank account and my newest hobby, sound editing. Well, I'm not a creative person, but I enjoy music a lot, so I used to record quite a lot of music on tapes in last two decades (I think everybody here did so). But now I made the procedure perfect: I record the radio show on a 4 hour tape with my HiFi-VCR and then sample the songs I want on my hard disk. Then I edit each song (cut the ends, fade in/out) and clean it with Toast's SpinDoctor to burn it on CD. And I make a cover, I use VivaPress to make each one individually from scratch. Well, all that takes time, but for me it is a hobby I like, and I can have music on CD nobody else has (there are some really good Techno/House/Trance radio shows here in Germany) at a quality at least on par with MP3. And it will take the same time on the fastest machine available - no need to upgrade here.

So I'm doing all this on an almost three years old machine without having to complain about its speed - it still doesn't "feel" slow and will serve me for at least one or two more years. Actually it "feels" faster than the 550 MHz Pentium III I am forced to use at work.

Maybe I'll upgrade to a cheap 700 MHz (or so) G4 processor when that will be the lower end of processors or even buy a new machine then. But that must be a real leap performance wise, at least six or more times faster. I don't think less increase is worth the money, since I get so much use from a machine this old and "slow."

Perhaps a DVD burning SuperDrive included in a low end model would make that upgrade more desirable. And my 768 KBits/s DSL-line is real fast today, no matter what the speed of the processor.

Everybody is hunting for the highest speed, maximum MHz, also for the graphic card (with lots of RAM on it), tons of RAM, hard disks rotating at extreme speed, all buses at maximum MHz as well, and every few months a part of this system can be improved by a few percent for only 60 percent of the system's cost (if you sell your old one buy the newest).

I don't think this improvement is worth the money, especially if you consider the time it really saves you (almost no time, I think). And I am sure that in the Macintosh world lots of people see it like this - there's a reason for sites like Low End Mac.

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