Apple iBook G3

Apple iBook G3
22 Jan 20

I thought it was time to look at how tech used to be and to see how far we’ve come. This week I’m looking at one of my most treasured possessions, a fully-working iBook G3.

I picked this beauty up quite a while ago and in my spare time have been restoring it to the best of my abilities and I’m really happy with it.

Released in 1999 I remember supporting these as this was the start of my IT career and my first real experience of Macs and I loved them. They were real luxury items at the time and only very successful researchers had them but surprisingly when I did start in IT Support I was surprised how many old school Macs were in service, which was great as I learnt how to use them very quickly. It would be a few years before I became a full Mac convert but it all started with this device and I am so pleased to have it as part of my collection.

My model is a PowerPC G3 at 366MHz with a whopping 128MB of RAM running Mac OS 9.0.4 (so we have actually now come full circle on OS naming conventions). This is one of the more premium models with a 6GB hard drive which is plenty especially considering that Mac OS only reports as taking up 26.6MB of space.

My baby booting up

It is a beast. Weighing in at 2.7KG it is helped by the iconic carrying handle that when in use makes it look more like a briefcase than a laptop. Build quality, it was far above what was offered by Windows notebooks at the time that were plastic and flimsy but even though the iBook was also a plastic enclosed device it feels so sturdy. Over time the hinge on my screen has become a little loose but that can be easily fixed.

The main thing that with its literal clamshell design it looks amazing, probably one of the most iconic Apple designs ever made and immediately recognisable. It is easy to see the influence of Jony Ive’s design ethos that was derived from the 1998 classic iMac.

Even though it is old it did come with a single USB port which at the time was a game changer. It also sports modem and ethernet ports. It does have an optical drive. Mine does work but only with original CDs. For some reason it doesn’t read copied CD-Rs but that might be something I’m doing wrong when creating them on a modern system (if anyone knows how to rectify this then I would love to hear from you. 

As you can probably imagine the battery is totally dead which is something I will look into with a future update but for now it runs fine which the almost as iconic Apple yo-yo power adapter which to me is one of the best designs ever made.

This is how we do it!

Unlike Macs of today, access to the internals was easy with a simple lift of the keyboard and also had a space for the addition of an AirPort card for wireless connectivity. That’s how we used to roll!

On release you’d pick up this bad boy for $1,599 US (equivalent to $2,454 in 2019) which was a considerable fork out at the time but then again all laptops came at a premium in those days compared to today’s prices.

One thing I love are the fantastic speakers that by today’s standards still sound pretty amazing and even more nostalgic when you use OS9 and hear of all the clicks and beeps that it was famous for.

I know that I could upgrade it to OSX but where would be the fun in that? I’m sticking to classic Mac OS and it will forever be that way because I’m a sentimental sod.

If there is anything else you’d like to know about the system please let me know and I would be happy to share.

An iconic piece of kit and fundamental to where we are today. Ah the memories!


Paul Wright


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