Part 1
Updating your early iMac G3
June 25, 2002

Was it love at first sight or a simple matter of necessity that made you buy that early series iMac? The color or later the colors, the shape, or perhaps it was that you just wanted one of those mile stones in design that so many others were buying? I must say that even though I had far more use for a Mini Tower or a PowerBook, I could only hold off buying one for about a year after they were first released to an eager world. When I saw the retail prices of the "Life Saver or Fruit Color" series had dropped close to the grand mark, I popped for a Blueberry 333 MHz G3. I still have it in my study as a handy Internet appliance because it's still a very useable and uncomplicated computer!

All you have to do is look at a local newspaper's classifieds, or one of several web sites where used Macs are sold, to see that these earlier iMac really hold their value! The first "Bondi" iMacs still sell for around $325 and last of the 333 MHz iMac's are often around $500. As I said in the PowerBook upgrade article, what do you think you could sell a four-year-old PC for which you paid around $1,100? $150 maybe, if you're lucky!

So, would you or I consider upgrading an iMac? Is it at all possible to upgrade it? The answer to both is a vehement YES! If you've got one of these early iMacs, whether a Bondi Blue 233 G3 (Rev A or B) introduced in August 1998, or one of the "Fruit Color" iMac of 266 and 333 MHz (Rev C or D )released in January 1999 and ended production on October 1999, you can do a lot to keep it very current.

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Just like our subject Wallstreet PowerBook G3 project units, these iMacs can be upgraded quite economically if you do some judicious shopping and do it yourself. Believe it or not, it's a lot easier than your friends can do with one of those mass production Windows PC's from Compaq, Gateway, Dull or HP. Where do we start?

Let's recall what I outlined in the series opener by revisiting the bulleted list of four questions you should ask yourself to qualify good reason to upgrade your iMac.

  1. Could your present Mac do the necessary tasks you will need to do for the next couple of years, if you can upgrade it with currently available components?
  2. Can I make it fast enough, with enough RAM memory, to suit my actual needs and not necessarily the "PC phallic symbol GHz/RAM race"? Now be honest, don't be sucked into the numbers game that Intel and AMD has fostered!
  3. Physically and esthetically, are you satisfied with the Mac you have? Keep in mind that you can customized the look on your Mac, just as the Wintel crowd seems to be infatuated with these days.
  4. Lastly, can the upgrade route deliver a path to using the peripherals you'd like to use, as well as allow you to keep using the ones you already have and want to keep? We're talking data ports here, my dear obsessive Mac'ers.

Assuming that you've decided to press on with a face lift for your Rev A through D iMac, and some of these things may also apply to the later "slot CD loading" iMacs, lets start with some basic items and work our way up.

If you're still using that awful original Apple "hockey puck" mouse, please replace it! There are any number of really nice Mac compatible USB mice out there that offer three buttons, a scroll wheel and are optical, rather than mechanical. While you can spend as much as $40 or $50 on a wireless optical mouse, here's the all time great buy, the Logitech Optical USB mouse with scroll wheel for all of $19.95, just about any place you look. Fits great in your hand, either one, and Logitech has written very complete Mac OS X (beta) and OS 9.x software for it, that allows you to use the right button (or left if you a southpaw) in place of the Control Key for most tasks. Ahhh, mouse nirvana. Now, how about that original keyboard, yeah also pretty awful with those ultra mushy keys. I tried out the very few keyboards that are available for Mac and all had some drawbacks that put me off except for one, Apple's Pro Keyboard. While the keys aren't as tactile responsive as I like for a lot of typing (I loved those old IBM keyboards), it does has a positive feel and it looks great.


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