iBook for baby?
March 14, 2011 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I picked up a blueberry iBook as a freebie from a neighbor. My toddler is more than thrilled - he loves Mom and Dad's laptops and won't leave them alone. The fake toy computer we tried wasn't enough for him, he wanted the real thing. So now that I have it, what can I do with it to make it the best baby computer I can create?

It has OS 9 on it. Upgrading to Panther, the latest it can handle, but Classic will be available.

Looking for any software I can put on here to keep him amused. Older stuff by necessity. There is one Pangaea game on it now that he seems to like.

Any suggestions? The hard drive is fairly small (3 gb, may have a 10 gb drive I can swap in, but nothing bigger).

Assuming he will get more out of it as he gets older, is it worth dropping $15-20 to put an Airport card in it for (slow) internet? Battery is shot too, so unless it is plugged in it won't work... which is a problem, as he likes dragging things around.

Yes, I will lock it down so that he doesn't have admin access of course. :)
posted by caution live frogs to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming he will get more out of it as he gets older, is it worth dropping $15-20 to put an Airport card in it for (slow) internet?

Most of the stuff kids seem to like on the Internet is pretty heavy duty Flash or video, so it may not be all that useful on such an underpowered machine. I know my daughter was pretty disappointed with her OLPC for that reason -- if it doesn't run Webkinz, why bother being on the Internet?
posted by Rock Steady at 11:22 AM on March 14, 2011

Response by poster: Well, my son is not quite 2 years old - he wants it to make noise and do things when he clicks buttons. By the time this machine is not enough for him he will be playing with my hand-me-down laptop instead, most likely.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:39 AM on March 14, 2011

Theres this: http://www.hanselman.com/babysmash/ which was adapted from a mac version: http://alphababy.sourceforge.net/
posted by edman at 12:03 PM on March 14, 2011

Our daughter of the same age doesn't like babysmash anymore.

She like to open up an email and type. So I suggest make it easy for him to get to notepad. And whatever the Mac version of paint is, maybe? Other than that, it seems like your best bet might be to do the cheap airport card so that you can do some of the simpler online games (check nickjr or sprout). My daughter would be annoyed if the laptop couldn't show her wonderpets and barney, though.

Our biggest problem is that she turns it off all the time, because she likes to hit the power button. If you can find some way to not have that happen, you'll be further ahead.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:46 PM on March 14, 2011

Those old iBooks are sooooo slow. I remember using one in the late 90s or early 2000s and found them unusable for the Internet even then. You're probably a lot better off keeping it at OS9 and using old native software - paint, etc. Does Kid pix work on it?
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:58 PM on March 14, 2011

Seconding AlphaBaby, although I'm not sure if that will work with Panther. My kid really liked it when he was 1+ but I haven't tried it recently (now 2+), ever since he smashed one of the arrow keys on the keyboard. Toddlers are rough and computers are fragile. Not a good combination.

In terms of physical safety, you don't really want your kid playing with a real laptop unsupervised. There's glass that can shatter and also a large battery that can go wrong in a number of ways, not to mention that it's a 120V appliance plugged into the wall. The keys can be easily pulled off (my kid is expert at this) and are small enough to choke on.

My kid really likes the LeapFrog toys; they have all kinds of little animations and games and not just simple blinking lights and sounds. Not sure if that's what you tried already.
posted by kenliu at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2011

I agree with Lamplighter that surfing the net with an old iBook will be an exercise in frustration, and that you are better off searching ebay, etc. for old software. Your toddler might enjoy Kid Pix, Jumpstart, a title from the Living Books series, and A to Zap.
posted by oceano at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2011

Response by poster: Well, it's a TFT screen so no glass... we trust him (somewhat) not to be too dangerous with computers, as we ordinarily would not let him use it unsupervised. Mostly he wants to play with one when he sees Mom and Dad using theirs. It is slow, yes, but surprisingly not too shabby for a computer as old as it is.

AlphaBaby looks like a winner. There are older versions archived on SourceForge so I should be able to make this work.

Worst case scenario, we have an old PPC Mini running as a home server, and if the laptop doesn't work out I can set up an account with limited permissions and Simple Finder for him there. So keep the recommendations coming!
posted by caution live frogs at 2:03 PM on March 14, 2011

I am writing this on a tangerine ibook with 300 mhz and 320 mb memory. I have tiger on it and it is fine for most things. It is a bit of a trick to get tiger on. You have to get the cd version and do a few tricks, google it. My grand kids love Tux paint. No flash or videos but it is built like a brick shithouse.
posted by JohnR at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2011

One cool feature of AlphaBaby is that it will randomly show photos from the iPhoto library, so if you have pictures of animals and friends and family that will be fun for your kid to identify. It's like an interactive picture book.

iPads and iPods are also fun for kids, they're really natural at getting the whole touch screen concept. My kid keeps asking to see "hungry birds" on my smart phone.
posted by kenliu at 8:48 PM on March 14, 2011

Response by poster: AlphaBaby is now installed on the iBook, along with a bunch of photos of baby and parents. He loves it! I had to install it on every other computer in the house to keep him happy, but he will play with the iBook for quite a while (supervised of course) if we let him. Thanks all!
posted by caution live frogs at 12:21 PM on April 13, 2011

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