Skip navigation

iMac G3/233 Startup Issue

1099 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Oct 20, 2012 9:47 AM by a brody RSS
MacOS-me Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Oct 19, 2012 4:52 AM

I have an iMac g3/233 running mac OS 9.1, and it's having a serious startup problem. Whenever it sarts up, it makes the Mac noise, but then procedes to show a white screen with a flashing picture of a finder folder (has the mac face on a folder) with a question mark in the middle.


The last thing that I did with the computer was connect it to the internet (via ethernet) and user Internet Explorer 5. After I finished using the computer, I pressed the power button and turned it off (instead of going to the menu and turn it off, because  I didn't have use of a mouse). After that, it started showing that screen on startup.


I brought it in to the Apple shop, and they tried everything to get it to work, but to no avail. It won't boot into a CD (All I have is a mac OS 8 install CD), reset the PRAM, or anything else. The only thing that we could get to work was to do the "Open Firmware" command (witch I think is Alt-Command-O-F). I don't know any Open Firmware commands for OS 9.1 or how to fix this. Can anyone give any suggestions?


Also, the only USB keyboard I have in my house is the keyboard for our newer iMac. For some reason, the older iMac won't load it on startup, only after it's booted (from before this happened to the mac). So the only place that I can possibly use a mac USB keyboard is probably the Apple store, unless the iMac can load a newer USB keyboard that's not mac (HP).


Thanks for any help!

iMac, Mac OS 9.1.x, iMac g3/233, Mac OS 9.1
  • a brody Level 9 Level 9 (62,060 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 19, 2012 12:26 PM (in response to MacOS-me)

    Did they attempt to replace the PRAM battery? You might need an older copy of Alsoft Disk Warrior to repair the machine. The age of your machine makes it mighty hard to recover any backups you might have.  You could remove the hard drive, and insert it an external Parallel ATA 3.5" Firewire hard drive case, and connect to an iMac G3 DV to see if it will at least read data off of it.  Many may have people who can help.

  • Rambling Joe Level 2 Level 2 (280 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 19, 2012 2:15 PM (in response to MacOS-me)

    The M4984 is the original iMac.


    This could be a host of possible things.  I agree with A Brody, your best bet is to try and find a usergroup close to you. 


    Good luck.

  • Jeff Level 6 Level 6 (11,160 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 19, 2012 10:24 PM (in response to MacOS-me)

    What would you like to do with this iMac?  If you want to run older (pre-OS X) apps, then you should check eBay for a retail/universal OS 9 or 9.1 installer disk.  The first generation iMacs shipped with OS 8.1, so an OS 8.0 installer disk won't be able to boot them.  With a supported OS installer disk, you should  be able to boot the computer and install the OS, if the hard drive and motherboard are fully-functioning.  The flashing, question-marked folder indicates that the computer can't find a valid System folder from which to boot the computer.  This could be caused by a corrupted directory or software component, or bad hardware - the hard drive or motherboard may have developed a problem.  Hopefully, it's a software problem.  If you wanted to use this iMac for the internet, I wouldn't recommend investing the money in it, to make it even somewhat internet-ready in 2012.  In addition to very dated hardware that the demands of the internet have left behind in the dust, finding a very good (and not just a competent) browser for pre-OS X systems is not possible anymore.  If you really want to install OS X (OS 10.3 - Panther) on the iMac, you'd need to max out the memory, make sure that the 4 MB SGRAM card is installed to provide 6 MBs of graphics support, and very likely need to upgrade the incredibly small hard drive.  That's a lot of money to spend on a 14 year-old computer.


    As for Microsoft's Internet Explorer, version 5.1.7 was the final release to support pre-OS X Macs, but it's no longer capable of supporting most web sites' content anymore.  That's the primary reason that many of us were forced to retire our older pre-G3 Power Macs that didn't support OS X and modern browsers.  There are a couple of other third-party browsers for OS 9 systems that are recommended in these Forums, but they're only as good as it gets, and not great.  A standard USB keyboard - even a Windows version (MIcrosoft logo key = Apple Command key & Alt key = Option/Alt key) and a basic (no-frills) USB mouse should function at startup, provided that the logic board isn't problematic.

  • a brody Level 9 Level 9 (62,060 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 20, 2012 9:47 AM (in response to Jeff)

    Third party keyboards, except MacAlly and some Logitech, typically don't have the startup command support that Apple's keyboards do.  Apple's USB keyboards made prior to 2006 typically support all the startup commands you would need, if the PRAM battery is less than 4 years old.  The PRAM battery is a Radio Shack 23-026 3.6V 1/2AA, and is difficult to replace without loosening the video cable inside the machine even when the machine is unplugged. A good authorized service technician, or a technical person from a usergroup knows to how to replace the battery.


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (0)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.