The Prettiest Computer

2016-10-15 17:10

Our “Blue & White” Power Macintosh G3 got a desk to call home. And some upgrades. I guess I should call it the Blue & White G4.

1999 through 2001 is my absolute favorite era of Apple and this machine exemplifies it more than any other. All the stuck-up professionals complained about the pretty blue case so all the later G4 hardware turned muted grey. The Blue & White actually has some personality!

This is kind of a sleeper system since it collected a few cheap upgrades I ran across while thrifting and online over the years:

  • Swapped motherboard to Revision 02 with the fixed ATA controller
  • It’s rocking a 1ghz Sonnet G4 CPU upgrade despite the label on the side of the machine. Stock was a 450mhz G3. I’d like to find a 700mhz G4 since anything over that requires lowering the bus speed from 100mhz to 66mhz which is a poor trade-off for the extra CPU speed.
  • 1GB PC133 SDRAM
  • Boots from an old SATA SSD adapted to a bootable ATA133 PCI card.
  • Replaced the stock DVD-ROM with an RPC1-flashed Pioneer DVR-109. The 109 was used as the OEM drive in the later MDD G4 towers, so this drive is fully supported by Disc Burning and iTunes in both OS 9 and OS X. No PatchBurn!
  • Installed an internal OEM ATA Zip250 pulled from a later Powermac G4.
  • The GPU is a 64MB PC Radeon 7000 that had a bigger BIOS chip soldered on and flashed with Mac firmware. The largest official Mac Radeon had only 32MB VRAM.
  • Modem replaced with a Stealth Serial Port to regain the legacy Macintosh mini-DIN serial for things like syncing with a Newton or serial MIDI interfaces. I managed to buy the very last one they had in stock after they graciously scrounged the warehouse for me.
  • The remaining two slots hold a Digi001 interface card and a DigiDesign SampleCell II sampler card. I’d like to replace the Digi001 with the FireWire-based Digi002 to free up that slot.
  • Triple boots Mac OS 9.2.2, Apple Rhapsody 5.6 (Mac OS X Server 1.2), and Mac OS X 10.4.11. Rhapsody is my favorite :3

This is the last machine that can use the fabled Apple Extended II keyboard (pictured!) without a USB adapter since it is the last machine ever made with Apple Desktop Bus support.