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Vectronic's Tangerine iMac G3/400 DV

Blue Arrow Archives Section:  Apple Macintosh Collection Archive

Originally Published:  Aug. 5, 2011

Apple introduced the iMac G3/400 DV (and G3/350), the first major redesign of the iMac, on October 4, 1999. Like the G3/333 it replaced, the G3/400 came in 5 flavors: tangerine, strawberry, blueberry, grape, and lime. The iMac G3/400 displayed on this page is tangerine. The iMac G3/400 has a 400 MHz G3 processor, a maximum RAM of 512 MB, and a 10 GB hard drive. We have maxed out this Tangerine iMac at 512 MB RAM using two 256 MB PC100 SDRAM cards and installed a compatible AirPort Card. It still has the original 10 GB hard drive. This imac originally shipped with Mac OS 8.6, but we purchased it in 2011 loaded with Mac OS X v10.4 (Tiger), the last version of Mac OS it can support. We stepped it back down to Mac OS 9.1.

"About This Computer" showing Mac OS and RAM

Click to view screen capture 1 - About This Computer
Click to view screen capture 2 - Clean Desktop
Click to view screen capture 3 - Macintosh HD Contents
Click to view screen capture 4 - Calculator
Click to view screen capture 5 - Apple System Profiler 1
Click to view screen capture 6 - Apple System Profiler 2
Click to view screen capture 7 - Monitor Control Panel
Click to view screen capture 8 - Memory Control Panel
Click to view screen capture 9 - Appearance Control Panel

The iMac G3/400 has the following ports: two USB 1.1 ports, two FireWire 400-Mbps ports, one 56.6K RJ-11 modem port, one 10/100Base-T Ethernet RJ-45 port, one microphone jack, and one speaker jack. Two headphone jacks are on front of the computer. There is also a video out port on the back of the computer. The programmer and reset buttons, previously only pinholes on previous generation iMacs, are now actual buttons. The iMac G3/400 is the first iMac to ship with FireWire ports. The G3/400 has two built-in Harman Kardon stereo speakers on the front of the computer. A built-in microphone resides on the front of the computer in the center over the monitor. Apple dropped the port cover of previous generation iMacs. The port orifice on the G3/400 is a slanted elongated oval setting smoothly on the side of the computer.

iMac G3/400 ports

Adding RAM to the G3/400 is considerably easier than previous generation iMacs, which required removing the motherboard. Changing the RAM on the G3/400 is accomplished by opening a door on the bottom of the computer. An AirPort Card can also be added in the same place. The G3/400 is the first iMac to be "AirPort Ready".

iMac door exposing AirPort Card and RAM slots

The G3/400 has a modest graphics system that was a slight improvement over previous generation iMacs. The system uses ATI Rage 128 graphics (2x AGP) with 8 MB SGRAM. The G3/400 supports video out. The connector is on the back of the computer. Apple shipped two grills for the video out port, one to cover the port and one to use if you intend to connect an external monitor. Our Tangerine iMac has the grill with video out port installed.

Bottom of iMac showing video port near top of image

The iMac DV was a redesign of the original iMac form factor. Most notably, Apple replaced the tray loading CD drive of the original iMac with a slot loading drive. With the introduction of this model, Apple never again substantially redesigned this form factor. Except for color, minor tweaks and upgraded system specs, the slot loading G3 iMac kept this basic design until Apple retired it in 2003. The iMac DV is so named because it was the first iMac that could play DVDs as a standard feature. It was only a player. It could not burn CDs or DVDs. Apple's marketing for this model stressed its ability to play DVDs. This iMac shipped with a DVD copy of Pixar's A Bug's Life (1998). The iMac G3/400 is noticeably glossier than the previous generation iMacs, which says a lot considering the high glossiness of its predecessor's cases. The outer casing is so shiny that it was difficult to handle the reflection when we photographed the images for this page.

The iMac G3/400 doesn't have an internal fan like previous iMacs. If it were not for the sound of the spinning hard drive, you wouldn't hear anything. The iMac is cooled by convection through a large vent on the top-back of the unit. Built within the large, round ventilation assembly is a handle that can be used to transport the unit. The lack of a fan doesn't seem to put the iMac in danger of overheating, but after a few minutes of operation, we do note you can feel a warm convection current streaming out of the vent holes. Any CD or DVD left in the slot loading drive will feel slightly more than just warm upon ejecting.

Back of iMac showing handle within ventilation assembly

The Tangerine iMac is a stunning computer. Apple's attention to detail resulted in nice touches such as the automatic selection of the "Tangerine Fusion" appearance theme (shown below) upon installation of Mac OS 8.6 or 9, but the user was free to choose any other Classic Mac OS appearance theme desired. The same is true for the other flavors in circulation at the time: blueberry, grape, lime, and strawberry. Each has a unique theme to fit the mood of the design. The slot loaders came about in a time when Apple was crawling back to dominance in the tech world and we think it helped them significantly make up the disproportionate ratio of users of non-Apple computers to users of Macs. Their fruity design influenced a whole slew of aesthetically similar designs on contemporaneous Mac peripherals from USB hubs to printers. An owner of a Tangerine iMac back in their time would have wanted to accompany it with similarly colored tangerine peripherals. The Tangerine iMac makes an aesthetically pleasing addition to our Apple museum and we intend to enjoy its classic orange nostalgia for many years to come. Vectromania


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