Classic Macs in the Intel Age

Graphite Clamshell iMac Still a Real Eye Catcher and Useful Tool

- 2008.04.15 - Tip Jar

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

The Graphite 466 MHz iBook - a real eye-catcher

When we bought some used Clamshell iBooks for refurbishing about a month ago, one of these $50 beauties caught my eye.

iBook Special EditionIt was a Graphite iBook. The other ones were Indigo, and one even had an AirPort card and 320 MB of RAM. Still, it was love at first sight with the Graphite.

As I powered up the iBooks, it seemed the Indigo ones were 366 MHz, and all except the one with AirPort had the stock 64 MB of RAM.

When I powered up the somewhat oddball Graphite, it booted into Mac OS 8.6. Apple System Profiler showed a 466 MHz processor and an unidentified optical drive. I put in the iBook OS 9 restore disk and rebooted.

When Mac OS 9 was finally installed, it got a memory error upon startup. It seemed an extra 64 MB stick was the problem. Without the faulty stick, the 'Book booted flawlessly into Mac OS 9.0.4.

And I love it. What Mac OS 8.6 had identified as unknown was a DVD drive, and this little 'Book is great for watching movies.

This iBook is completely stock at present, meaning no AirPort, 64 MB of RAM, and 10 GB of hard drive space. Still, I love it.

Some of my friends think I must be crazy to use Mac OS 9 on an OS X-compatible machine. I disagree. For Mac OS X, I have my PowerBook G4 (Titanium, DVI) and my Dual 533 Digital Audio.

This iBook is awesome! Why?

First, the speedy 466 MHz G3 boots Mac OS 9 very quickly. Second, it has a DVD drive. And it came with all the manuals, CDs, and even the AppleCare stuff for $50! A bargain, eh?

Cheetah installed fine on the iBook, but I'd rather use Mac OS 9, which I am very familiar with, than an operating system that won't play DVDs. I might get 512 MB of RAM and put the Tiger in there, but that is in a very, very distant future. : )

I can't find anything that I don't like about this Mac. Even the built-in speaker is good. So is the very sharp 12" display. And it's quiet - the other iBooks have noisy hard drives, but this one is completely silent. I brought it to school, and everybody was in awe of this 8-year-old machine. Even my friend, who has a brand new 15" MacBook Pro (which is probably the best laptop ever), said it was cool.

Like many Macs, it's hard to imagine how old they really are. My TiBook looks a lot like the PC notebooks of 2006, and my Power Mac G4 could easily be mistaken for a 2005 computer. The Clamshells look very modern! Most 1999 PC laptops are either black or beige - and are heavier than a regular Power Mac desktop.

When my teacher saw me working on the iBook, she was amazed at how simple it was for me to work and how speedy the machine was. Not to mention the looks of it! I told her it was made in 2000, and she wouldn't believe me. She skipped the new $4,000 Dell she wanted to buy and went for a new MacBook instead.

Another thing about these iBooks is how easy it must be to get started for people who have never used a computer before, like seniors and small children. The manuals are very clear, and it comes with everything you need, even a modem cable! And upon first boot, the user is greeted with a friendly Getting Started wizard.

Finally, the keyboard rocks. Only my PowerBook G4 has a better keyboard - no, in fact, this is better than the PowerBook! Oh, and it looks great by my Digital Audio (which is also graphite. If you have a DA, Yikes or Sawtooth, buy a Graphite iBook!). If you happen to own a Graphite iMac G3 USB mouse, it looks beautiful by the DA, the iBook, and all the other Apple stuff.

Conclusion: Buy one! They are pretty cheap, and they are a great value for the money. Every time I see my iBook, I don't for one billionth of a second regret that I bought it.

What's next? Getting my Classic II up on Ethernet and connecting it to my iBook and my other Macs.

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