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Vectronic's Bondi Blue iMac G3/233

Blue Arrow Archives Section:  Apple Macintosh Collection Archive

Originally Published:  Sept. 16, 2008

This is the legendary original iMac, introduced by Apple on May 6, 1998. The "Rev. A" iMac shipped on August 15, 1998. The "Rev. B" iMac was introduced on October 26, 1998. The iMac turned around an ailing company and set Apple toward one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the computer industry. Apple officially christened "bondi blue" the name of the color that highlights the front and back of the computer. "Bondi blue" is said to be named for the color of the water at Bondi Beach, in Sydney, Australia. It can best be described as blue-green. The original iMac has a 233 MHz G3 (PowerPC 750) processor. Max RAM is often disputed (some claim to have been able to install 768 MB of RAM), but officially, the iMac G3/233 Rev. A has a maximum RAM of 128 MB and Rev. B has a maximum RAM of 256 MB. My iMac G3/233 is a Rev. A model with a build date of September 9, 1998. It has 64 MB of RAM and a 4 GB internal hard drive. I purchased it in 2007 for $70.

The iMac has a foot that can be left up or set down to angle the computer to a more comfortable viewing angle.

The iMac G3/233 originally shipped with Mac OS 8.1, but before the end of its production run, Apple switched to 8.5. My bondi iMac has the original Mac OS 8.1 installed. Officially, it is actually capable of running up to Mac OS v10.3 (Panther), but I wouldn't advise installing anything newer than Mac OS 9.1 and I would only advise doing this if your bondi iMac has at least 64 MB of RAM. OS X is a RAM hog and it requires a good amount of video memory to run smoothly.

Adding RAM requires accessing the motherboard. The back of the iMac pulls off using this convenient handle allowing access to the motherboard.

"About This Macintosh" showing Mac OS and RAM

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Bondi iMacs have only 2 MB of SGRAM VRAM, expandable to 4 MB or 6 MB using SGRAM SO-DIMMs. This limited video RAM is just not up to the task of running OS X without significant system degradation. My bondi iMac has 4 MB of VRAM. Native resolution is 800 x 600, but 640 x 480 is possible for those needing reading glasses, and 1024 x 768 is possible for those who like to squint. 800 x 600 is probably the preferred resolution for most users. The built in monitor is a 15-inch Multiscan monitor capable of producing millions of colors. Monitor settings are controlled through the system software in Mac OS.

The bondi iMac not only kicked off a revolution in industrial design, but the bondi also turned the computer industry on its heels with its omission of a 1.4 MB floppy disk drive and sole reliance on USB for connectivity. This was quite a risk for Apple at the time because USB had not yet gained widespread acceptance with consumers. The bondi iMac has two USB 1.1 ports, a 10BaseT Ethernet port, a built-in 56K modem, a speaker jack, a microphone jack, and two headphone jacks on the front in the right speaker grill. Apple offered an optional IrDA infrared link module capable of 4 Mb/s transfer rate at a range of 2 inches to 1 meter. My bondi iMac has the IrDA module installed. It is located on the front of the computer in the left speaker grill. The IrDA infrared link module did not catch on with iMac users and it was dropped after this model retired from production.

iMac ports

IrDA link module - dark area in speaker grill

The bondi iMac is the only iMac to have the colored ring around its port cover hole. The next iteration of the iMac family, the G3/266 did not have the colored ring. The port cover itself was dropped starting with the slot loading iMacs in 1999. These port covers are fragile and relatively easy to break off. It looks cool, but I have found that it just gets in the way. Unfortunately, many pre-slot loading iMacs have lost their covers over the years.

Colored cover ring

The bondi iMac has a built-in 24x CD-ROM disk drive. The drive is opened by pushing the bondi-colored button in the center front of the drive tray. CDs are snapped into place. The tray ejects automatically.

CD in disk drive

The keyboard and mouse also have the bondi highlights found on the chassis. The mouse is the ill famed "hockey puck" that many found to be uncomfortable and clumsy to use. The keyboard is not full sized. It is a compact keyboard with half keys used for the function keys. The keyboard is cramped and many also found it uncomfortable to use. Furthermore, the black keys are hard to read in dim light.

"Hockey puck" mouse

Compact keyboard

The original bondi blue iMac is an inspired design. Its beauty is matched only by its legendary Macintosh ease of use. Currently, bondi blue iMacs can be purchased for very little. However, as good examples become more rare, I expect this model iMac to increase in value. Vectromania

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