Power Macintosh G3 (Blue and White)

Released : January 1999, Revised June 1999

Price: $1,599 – $2,999

Acquired: Oct 2011 (from friend)

Cost: FREE

About the Machine

The front and side of the tower showing the G3 silkscreen and the sharp teal-blue color.

Following the translucent and colored design of the iMac, Apple released an all new version of the Power Macintosh G3 tower in January 1999.  The G3 replaced the previous beige G3 tower and desktop models from late 1997. The most striking part about the Blue and White G3 (codenamed Yosemite) was its brand new case. The case used translucent white plastic on the sides (with the letters ‘G3’ silkscreened below) and teal-blue plastic on the front, back, and top.  The pinstripe texture of the iMac was used on the front of the machine.  The tower also included handles on each corner which made it easy to carry unlike other towers of the day.  Like the iMac, the Power Macintosh G3 was easily recognized as a Mac.

Expansion was made easy by a brand new pull out door on the side of the Mac.  Simply pull on a lever and the entire side of the case would open exposing all of the internals of the machine. It was now incredibly easy to install a hard drive, upgrade memory, and install PCI cards. Everything was easy to find – you could even run the machine while opening and closing the door!

With the Blue and White G3, Apple began to let the design of the iMac influence the rest of its products.  Like the iMac, the G3 used industry standard IDE hard drives and memory , included USB instead of SCSI and serial ports, and did not offer a floppy drive.  The G3 was also the first Mac to drop the proprietary DB-15 monitor port for a VGA port – another industry standard. The Blue and White G3 came with a 300 – 450 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 64 MB RAM, a 6 – 12 GB hard drive, and a CD drive. A DVD or DVD RAM drive and Zip driver were optional.

The G3 had room inside for up to four hard drives and four PCI cards. While it did not include SCSI or serial ports, it did retain one ADB port for a keyboard and mouse. It was the last tower to include ADB.  The G3 was also the first Mac to include Apple’s brand new FireWire interface, which provided 400 Mbps of throughput for external hard drives and camcorders. This was Apple’s answer to the lack of a SCSI port and it would continue to be offered on Macs through the Intel transition. The G3 had four memory slots that could hold up to 1 GB of memory.

The first version of the G3 (300, 350, and 400 MHz versions) contained a defect on the motherboard that caused issues with IDE hard drives.  Drives connected to the internal IDE interface were unstable and would behave erratically which could cause data loss and corruption.  Some hard drives wouldn’t even work.  This was fixed in a second revision of the motherboard that shipped on the 350, 400, and 450 MHz versions. If you have a 450 MHz version, you have the new motherboard, if you have the 350 or 400, you might have either, and if you have the 300, you definitely have the first generation with the defect.

The innovative side door of the G3 open showing how easy it was to access its internals. It was designed so that the machine could still run while the door was open.

What it Means to Me

I have a long history with the Blue and White G3.  It was the first Mac that I ever owned that could run Mac OS X. I bought it off a friend of mine when I was in college to replace my Power Computing PowerBase 180, which could only run up to Mac OS 8.6.  The Blue and White was the first Mac that I had that could run Mac OS 9 and connect to the internet over ethernet.  As soon as I got it I put Mac OS 10.1 on it and then 10.2 once I could borrow a copy.  I bought a 17″ monitor from Wal Mart and it worked flawlessly with the G3’s VGA port. The G3 was the first Mac I used to rip all of my CDs into iTunes and the first that machine that I experienced the iTunes Store on.  It was eventually upgrade to Mac OS 10.3 when it was released – my first brand new retail box copy of the Mac OS – and served me happily until I bought my 12″ PowerBook G4.  I ended up giving it back to the friend that I bought it from in return for my first iPod – a 10 GB third generation model.

I’ve always loved the Blue and White G3. The case is so eye-catching with a splash of color and the G3 silkscreening on the sides.  It’s easy to carry and easy to open, it’s just a great machine. I always wish I kept it.  Ironically the Blue and White G3 that I have now may actually be the same one that I got from my friend and gave back.  He had collected several old Macs in his cellar and offered them to me, including a Blue and White G3.  My G3 was one of the original models with a 300 MHz processor and an IDE issue and so was the one that I picked up from him.  I swapped out the motherboard for a second gen board with a 450 MHz G3 (part of my first iMac purchase on Craigslist) and it works like a champ. It has an 8 GB hard drive and 320 MB of RAM.  It runs Mac OS 9 well and runs OS X OK up until about 10.3.

Tech Specs
Processor 300 (512 KB L2), 350, 400, or 450 MHz (1 MB L2) PowerPC 750 (G3)
Memory 64 MB PC-100 SDRAM
Hard Drive 6, 9, or 12 GB Ultra ATA/33
Other Drives 24x or 32x CD-ROM, 5x DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, and/or Zip 100 drive
Video Card ATI Xclaim VR w/ 4 MB or ATI Rage 128 GL w/ 16 MB
Screen NONE
Speakers NONE
Expansion Slots 4 PCI – 3 @ 33 MHz, 1 @ 66 MHz (for graphics card)
Ports 10/100 Ethernet, 56k modem, 1 ADB, 2 USB, 2 FireWire 400, 1 VGA, Audio In, Audio Out
Geekbench 204 (350 MHz), 399 (450 MHz)

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