Is there anything useful to do with an old iMac?
December 28, 2017 5:51 PM   Subscribe

In my mum's attic I apparently have an old iMac. It's strawberry pink, so my best guess is that it's a 266mhz G3 from 1999. Obviously this is a really old computer, but is there anything useful I can do with it? It seems a shame to just throw it away.
posted by A Robot Ninja to Technology (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is probably about as good as you can do. A $30 Raspberry Pi has vastly more compute capability than that machine.
posted by Alterscape at 6:12 PM on December 28, 2017 [8 favorites]

I wrote many a school paper on one of those things and remember that it had a pretty decent keyboard, so if you're into the whole writing thing, it should serve as a pretty decent word processor that comes with the astounding feature of not being able to distract you with a passable internet but with perfectly serviceable connection abilities. Absent that, it's possibly only a few years from being a collector's item. Unfortunately, in terms of computing power, it's leagues behind even bad smartphones from 2010.
posted by General Malaise at 6:14 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: There seem to be somewhat recent Debian builds for PPC. But it's more of a hobby than something truly useful. It's ewaste.
posted by GuyZero at 6:15 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a guy (can't link right now) who guts them and turns them into aquariums and they are gorgeous .
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:19 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

We used to press one of those into service laying out video game user manual pages in Quark during crunch time (possibly 12 O’Clock High: Bombing the Reich or another Talonsoft title). It wasn’t super speedy, but it did the job. So maybe that’s your answer: Find period software and see what you can do/make?
posted by notyou at 6:46 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The thing is, even if you can use it for something useful, it's so energy efficient it's not worth it. Like Alterscape said, a $30 Pi is vastly more powerful - and it runs off 5V USB.

I have an old Mac Pro that is hypothetically a lot more useful than an old iMac, but I can't bring myself to pay the power bill for it.

I vote fish tank.
posted by bradbane at 6:53 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here's the iMacAquarium guy. He also sells a DIY kit according to this site.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:14 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you decide you don't want it I'd be willing to take it off your hands. :)
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:00 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

It should be able to run MAME and other emulators pretty well, at least for older games. Or you could make it into a cat house. But it's a shame to ditch a working CRT since the world's supply will only decline.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:01 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Portable DVD player?
posted by luckynerd at 8:11 PM on December 28, 2017

luckynerd, IIRC they don't play DVDs, and "portable" is not a word I'd use to describe them...
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:54 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please consider not destroying a working computer!! Load it up with games, iCab browser, and a suitable version of NeoOffice ($10 shareware fee). Then give it to your favorite kids who don't have a computer!!!!!! Have fun getting it set up! A good source for shareware is
posted by 8603 at 10:38 AM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Hunh. That old iMac is probably a lot faster than a contemporary machine in one way: latency between keyboard input and display: This one Gizmodo article with a clickbait headline explains why.
posted by notyou at 10:44 AM on December 29, 2017

For the Aquarium ideas, an iMac will only hold 3.5 Gallons of water, it is generally recommended to have 5 gallons as the bare minimal tank size for even the smallest fish species.

Ebay it, someone out there will want it.
posted by Lanark at 11:15 AM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

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