Ten Dollar iMac

My laptop is getting worse by the day, so I did the only sensible thing. I got me a new computer. Except it’s not new – it’s almost exactly ten years old, to the day.

I hit eBay, where all good computers go to die, and managed through some miracle to pick up not one, but two iMacs being sold locally as a bundle. One worked and the other is pretty dead. Figuring the dead one would make a fun project in it’s own way, I put a bid in, and won the two for the princely sum of £10.50 for both. That’s around $20 for two iMacs folks. Bargain? You bet!

The first iMac – the one I’m using right now – is an original Bondi Blue G3 with 96Mb and the original 4Gb hard drive. It’s a mere 233Mhz CPU, though it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

So far, I’m very impressed. The screen in particular is gorgeous. At 1024×768 the display is crystal clear with anti-aliased fonts better than anything I’ve seen before. This system has a mere 96Mb RAM, yet it’s running OS X 10.1 with a browser window open, iTunes playing a CD and my typing this in TextEdit. Which, incidentally, I’m not using full screen – TextEdit is taking up just half of the screen and I’m using quite a small font without any problems at all. The anti-aliasing is that good.

Awesome environment? You bet.

Let’s recap. This is a G3 iMac. It’s ten years old (almost to the day) and came equipped with a 4GB hard drive, 96Mb RAM and OS X 10.1 pre-installed. And it’s lovely. There’s something uber-cute about the iMacs for a start in all their transparent curvy glowiness. Despite their teenage-bedroom looks though, these are Real Computers complete with all the power you….well, I…. need (well, mostly). As it’s OS X, there’s a Linux-like Operating System under the hood. It sure felt good to crack open a terminal and type

 perl -v

To be greeted with

 This is perl, v5.6.0 built for darwin

 Copyright 1987-2000, Larry Wall

Anywhere good enough for Larry is good enough for me :)

There’s no vim. but we have both vi and emacs, so that’s good. Heck, there’s even php and apache all set up and ready; what’s not to love?

What’s most impressive is what the iMac doesn’t feel like. It doesn’t feel like a 10 year old computer. It doesn’t feel like it’s only got 96Mb – though I suspect I can’t push it too far! And it certainly doesn’t feel like Windows, which is nice. If anything, this is Linux, polished. It’s Linux given the professional make-over it so much deserves.

The other iMac is a slot-loading 400Mhz DV SE with 128Mb RAM and a 13Gb hard drive. It’s a dead thing though – just chimes, and won’t boot up at all. There’s a whole slew of potential problems and fixes I’m going through right now, and I’m hopeful it’ll be running Real Soon. The lovely couple who sold it even threw in a 120Gb drive, just in case it’s the hard drive that’s at fault. Yep – a 120Gb drive, and two iMacs for £10.50!!

The plan is to put this Bondi iMac in the kitchen as a recipe database, streaming radio and casual internet ‘puter when we move. I really want to get the other machine running too, but if not I’ll put the extra memory and 120Gb in the older machine. We’ll see.

Right now though, it’s just good to have a working machine again. However old it is.

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