Currently Being ModeratedOct 25, 2012 9:05 AM (in response to T-west)
Are you sure the cables are plugged in all the way? The power cable could be in tight and that would cause it to spin when power is turned on, but if the data cable is loose it won't be read. Normally if there is a valid system on any drive the Mac will eventually get to it and boot.
Currently Being ModeratedOct 25, 2012 9:10 AM (in response to T-west)
Hold down the option key at start up. This will bring up the Startup Manager. Startup Manager should show your hard drive with the valid startup system. Select the drive then click the right arrow key.
After startup, go to system preferences and select the boot drive for your system.
Since this was a dormant system, did you replace the PRAM battery? It is probably this kind:
You can probably find it also at your local Walmart, Walgreen's, CVS, etc. for around $5 (Radio Shack for around $20).
Currently Being ModeratedOct 25, 2012 9:37 AM (in response to Rambling Joe)
thanks - I will give this a shot.
I don't know about that battery - I had wondered whether it was defunct. I seem to recall that I did need to set the date/time/zone when I had first gotten it alive.
if you don't mind another answer: what IS the effect of a dead PRAM batt? does it leave the system incoherent such that it does not recognize the boot track? or did the failed attempt to get a boot from CD leave firmware in a state such that it does not go looking for a bootable volume?
the physicals: yep I checked/rechecked everything carefully. if there is a problem with the ribbon itself it is not obvious.
Currently Being ModeratedOct 25, 2012 10:47 AM (in response to T-west)
First, the second hand disk you have might not be compatible with your iMac. Apple made hardware specific discs that shipped with each iMac, and those discs can't be switched between iMac models. An example, the disks that came with the iMac model identifier Power,Mac2,2 (July 200 0 Feb. 2001) won't work on the similar but not the same iMac model identifier PowerMac2,1 (Oct. 1999 - July 2000), or vice versa.
However, if you use a Retail Copy of the OS 9 or OS X (depending upon your needs), then it will work on all models compatible with that OS.
As to your question, a dead PRAM battery can make it so it doesn't recognize the boot volume on the hard drive.