eXtensions - Saturday 17 September 2016
Cassandra: Retro with a CRT iMac
By Graham K. Rogers
The retail outlets in Thailand at that time were not organised in the same way as they are now and some of the stores were a bit hit and miss. I ordered my iMac from a family store in Phantip Plaza. No Bondi Blue models were available by then and I settled for one with the plain white sides: what Apple called Snow. It was priced at 28,000 baht. These were the last of the CRT iMacs, although I did not know that then and its G3 PowerPC processor running at 500 MHz was acceptable for the time. It came with 128 MB RAM.
Just after buying the iMac I switched to OS X for the first time. I had a look on the Power Mac first, but was so scared by the newness of it all that I rebooted back into System 9. Those first Macs with OS X had a dual boot system.
A few days later I tried again and the penny dropped. I had used UNIX before. When Internet connections were first available in Thailand - before the WWW - the only way to make things work was with UNIX. I was quite familiar with command-line DOS, so just learning the basic commands allowed me to start. With OS X, the organisation was logical, I could work right away with the selection of applications already installed, and as more arrived, the iMac became a really useful machine.
When the eMac arrived, I did not know what to do with the iMac, so gave it to a friend: a former student who had started work not long before and wanted a decent computer. Years later, when my current MacBook Pro arrived, I was in a similar position. The previous MacBook Pro was in a fair condition, although of course it was slower. The same friend had just left his job and was starting up on his own: insurance and a sideline in baking cakes. His buttered popcorn is to die for.
He took the MacBook Pro but could not pay me for it then, so I let him have it if he would give me back the iMac, which I knew he was still using. That return of the machine took longer than I expected, but it is now finally in my hands.
It does not have WiFi of course: we would connect using the built-in modem; or if I was at the office, using the Ethernet port (10/10 base). Some students these days are unfamiliar with these types of technology: indeed the first modem (MODulate - DEModulate) I ever saw was in a library at Illinois State University. We were shown how two rubber cups could be placed over mouthpiece and earpiece of a telephone and a sound generated could be used to connect two computers over the telephone system. This was a "WoW!" moment for me as I could see the potential right away: it didn't have to be connecting libraries in Illinois and California, it could be anyone in any country. We of course take this connectivity for granted these days.
Most of the ports are in a recess on the right side: Firewire 400 (2), USB (2), Ethernet (RJ45), RJ11 connector for telephone line, microphone, headphone (3.5mm). There is also a reset button which saved me once or twice in the early days. At the front, just under the screen is an optical drive. Older users will remember the hole to the side that would take a paper clip allowing a stuck disk to be ejected. At the back of the case is a VGA port: that might be useful as these connectors are still used for overhead projectors and some of the monitors at the office.
Logging in to the single account was a problem as the password I had been given was wrong. A quick message had that fixed and I was in: the clock was set wrongly and I wonder if the battery might be dead. The G4 certainly had a replaceable battery for some functions and the iMac might be the same. Investigation will confirm that; but the first thing was to set the date; but I also had to change the localised settings for my own purposes.
System Preferences in OS X 10.3.9 - With Aqua Interface
Screenshot - Full Screen on CRT iMac
Screenshot from part of Applications Folder
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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