5 Replies Latest reply: Nov 25, 2008 9:55 PM by Horst Wolf, Jr.
DanGruner Level 1 (0 points)
Apologies if this seems a straightforward silly question...

I am reasonably familiar with macs, having brought an Intel Macbook last year and have never looked back.

Last week, I was given a (PowerPC G3) CRT iMac, complete with a load of software and fully working. Its is running OS9, 256Mb memory and 450MHz CPU. I would very much like to make use of this computer.

The questions I have are: What can i do with this machine? I would like to stick OSX on (version 10.4 that I have on the MacBook), but how and where can I obtain this? Can I install and up-to-date internet browser on, so I can look at modern sites (can this be done with without upgrading the OS) ? Likewise, a compatible office application? The computer has a slot-loading DVD drive.

Can I easily set my Intel MacBook and this iMac to synchronize to each other? Is there a version of iTunes available for this computer?

The machine appears to take ordinary PC type (SDRAM ?) memory - is this correct and how much can I upgrade to?

Finally, would it be possible to run an emulator that allows running of certain PC applications (similar to Parallels?)

Apologies for all the questions, but I don't have a lot of time to go searching for all the individual answers (I am not lazy - honest!).

Many thanks, Dan

MacBook, Mac OS X (10.4.10)
  • Iam-a-Mac Level 1 (0 points)
    First of all,forget tiger for this machine because 450Mhz it's too slow to run well.I think Panther will be great you can easely find a CD install of Panther on ebay(and search for the ram too it's pc133 sdram you can upgrade to 1GB two 512 by slot)
    For the pc applications I don't know,but there is alaways a 'mac' version with most of the 'pc' apllications.
    Hope I help you,good luck with your iMac.
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 (33,189 points)
    It might be more interesting, since you already have a recent Intel Mac, to use the iMac to explore the "past history" of the Mac world. You can put more money into that old iMac (more RAM, a retail copy of Tiger, maybe a bigger hard drive) but you would eventually end up not using it very much because your MacBook is so much faster and more capable.

    You can run Mac OS 9 very well with no hardware upgrades. 256mb if more than enough RAM. The stock drive is big enough. You can update any version of Mac OS 9 to version 9.2.2 (the latest for the classic Mac OS) with free downloadable updaters.


    And that iMac was designed with Mac OS 9 in mind, so it will feel quite fast running it and Mac OS 9 programs. Even with hardware upgrades, it will feel somewhat sluggish running Tiger, which is why you will ultimately not use it very much when you have a MacBook around. But if you max out the RAM, it is useable with Tiger. It just won't do things like video on YouTube that well, but that would be true using any version of Mac OS; it's a hardware limitation.

    Apple has s support page for Mac OS 9


    There is a version of iTunes that runs under Mac OS 9


    This is the best browser (a special build of Mozilla 1.3.1) for Mac OS 9.


    And there are many old (some formerly high-end) programs that are available for free or low cost.

    But to answer your other questions:

    You can go up to Tiger, 10.4.11. You should upgrade to at least 512mb of RAM to run it efficiently. The max is 1GB (two 512mb modules).

    Be sure you have installed firmware update 4.1.9 before attempting to install Mac OS X 10.2 or later. Failure to do so with result in video problems that are hard to resolve. You need to be able to boot to Mac OS 9 to run the firmware updater.


    With Tiger installed, you can run the latest version of Safari and other browsers.

    You need to run Virtual PC to run Windows software, but it would be pathetically slow on a 450 MHz G3. It would not be worth the effort or expense to obtain a copy of Virtual PC.

    With either Mac OS X or Mac OS 9, you can set up file sharing over Ethernet. If the iMac is running Mac OS 9, the MacBook needs to be the server (iMac connects to MacBook). If it is running Mac OS X, the two Macs can connect either way.

    Here is a list of RAM upgrades at OWC.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/MyOWC/Upgrades.cfm?sort=pop&model=120&type=Memory&TI=3 425&shoupgrds=Show+Upgrades
  • DanGruner Level 1 (0 points)
    Many thanks for all your help!

    I shall look at obtaining a copy of Tiger or Panther.

    I've had a look round for the firmware updater application (have looked at the link given), but I can find no reference to it on this computer. Where can I see what version the system has? I don't have the original OS9 install disks either.

    In the meantime, what can I do with the OS9 I already have? Do people successfully use it still? Will this web browser (wamcom) be able to view modern sites with flash and video etc?

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 (33,189 points)
    For the firmware version, you can run the System Profiler program, which is usually accessible from the Apple menu. On the summary tab, look for Boot ROM.

    Alternately, start up the Mac while holding down Command-Option-O-F to go into Open Firmware. It should give the Boot ROM version at the top of the screen. To continue booting normally, type boot (and Return) at the command line.

    And it would not hurt to just run the firmware updater program. It will check to see if it is already installed and if it is, a message will come up letting you know. This is noted in the instructions for the firmware update.

    Regarding Mac OS 9, check which version of you have by selecting +About This Computer+ from the Apple menu.

    If it is below 9.1, you may want to update to at least 9.1 using the link provided in my earlier post. 9.1 is a good release, so you can keep it there, but you can update to 9.2.1 or 9.2.2. Each update has to be installed in sequence. However, since you have no way to reinstall, perhaps you should keep the OS version as is for now.

    Mac OS 9.x was in use for a long time. It took time for Apple to develop and release Mac OS X, and even after release, many users (especially pro users) kept using Mac OS 9 until Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther). And before Mac OS 9, Mac OS 8 and System 7 were very similar to Mac OS 9. So there is a lot of software out there. There are still many users, just as there are many PC users who still use Windows 98 and even 95.

    One weakness is with web browsers, because web standards keep evolving. WaMCom is still OK in terms of rendering pages (by no means perfect), but it does not incorporate all the recent security measures of up-to-date browsers. You can run an older version of Flash, but as I mentioned earlier, video will not work so well. But that is a limitation of the old hardware, and not necessarily due to the old OS and software. I would not use it for web browsing, except to download software.

    Here is an excellent word processor that is now freeware and can be downloaded here.


    So if you do any writing, at the very least, the old iMac would make a great word processor. One that does not distract you with the Internet browsing, email, iTunes, chat, etc.

    Here is an excellent graphics package


    That +System 7 Today+ site has other useful software and information. It is aimed at the earlier Mac OS (System 7.6), but most earlier software works fine with Mac OS 9.

    You might find a used copy of Microsoft Office 98 or 2001 for Mac on eBay. Office has not changed that much in the last ten years.

    I have an old Mac OS 9 machine that I use for digitizing old analog music cassette tapes. I use a freeware program called Coaster


    to record audio input and save as AIFF files. Then, using iTunes on my recent Mac, I convert those AIFF files to AAC (or MP3). The process is time consuming, so having another Mac do most of the work prevents my main Mac from being tied up in long recording sessions.

    Basically, if you can find a copy of the old software, Mac OS 9 is still quite useful. You may be able to find old software (at low or no cost) to do things that would cost hundreds of dollars on a newer Mac running Mac OS X.
  • Horst Wolf, Jr. Level 1 (80 points)
    Another response said it well - you'll get frustrated trying to use this imac - I know - I have owned several - and currently still have have a 600mhz/640meg which is pretty much quicker than yours - and it is painful to use on the modern Internet - simply not enough video ram.
    But - you can still find cool uses for that imac - music server - slide show tool - guest email machine, etc.
    Panther does run good - but more memory would help that machine a lot - problem is - you might be able to find a faster G3 imac that already has more memory in it for the same price as the memory you'd buy to get that machine to 640 meg - not a problem really I supppose........

    Message was edited by: Horst Wolf, Jr.