Project PowerMac: B&W G3 added to the collection

PowerMac G3 side

Last week, I added another Mac to my collection: a Power Macintosh G3 blue and white model, running at 350 Mhz with 128 MB of RAM and with OS 8.6 installed.

I knew someone who had a few extra G3 B&Ws sitting around, and they were kind enough to let me walk away with one. I’ve always admired the B&W case design, since it launched the venerable G4 aesthetic – but now that I have one, what do I do with it?

First, having never owned an OS 8 Mac, I wanted to poke around the system and see what came stock on it.


Here’s the “About This Mac” section – showing the basics. Mac OS 8.6, code-named “Veronica,” was the last version of OS 8 Apple released. This PowerMac has less RAM than my iMac G3, but a faster processor and a similar-sized hard drive (6 GB).


This G3 came pre-installed with the basic OS 8.6 software, meaning there’s not much in the way of applications. Sherlock is here, as is QuickTime and all the Apple basics.

A few weeks ago, I wondered what Mac users used to manage their music libraries and multimedia files. I got my answer on the PowerMac:


This is Apple’s own CD player app, pre-iTunes. Lovely, isn’t it?


Web surfing in OS 8 means Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.5 (above). Nice to know that Newton Poetry looks decent even on a 1997-era browser.

Just for fun, I also downloaded the last version of Netscape OS 8 could handle, and Mozilla’s original web browser. I find either of these browsers can handle basic web sites well.

PowerMac G3

Now, what to do with the bugger? My first thought is, it’s nice to have an OS 8 Mac around just to play with. Right now I have a Macs with every version of the Mac OS, from 8.6 up to 10.4.

I’ve also thought about using the B&W as a file server – just an extra place to keep backup files or something. I’ve read a lot about other Mac users doing this, but I’ll have to find a bigger hard drive. A measly 6 GB isn’t going to cut it. A RAM upgrade might be needed as well.

For now, though, the Power Macintosh G3 joins my PowerMac G4 in being a project machine. Any suggestions?


  1. If you turn your B&W G3 into a file server, be careful when adding/swapping a larger drive. The Rev. 2 motherboards allow this; Rev. 1 does not (at least, not without some data errors).

    Here’s a page with a photo that allows you to tell them apart. The page deals specifically with an upgrade to OS X, but the drive problems will be there in Rev. 1 motherboards whether or not you upgrade the OS.

  2. If you have space to hide the unit near your TV, grab an older EyeTV USB unit (around $30 on eBay) and copy all of your music files to it, then grab an ATI Wonder Remote (around $20 on eBay). Then you can use it to watch TV and play music in the room. I have a graphite iMac DV setup exactly this way in the kitchen – the iMac “looks like a TV” more than your G3, but you get the idea.

  3. Thanks, guys. @Middle Aged – I had heard the Rev. 1s were kind of flaky. Kind of like the older G4s will only allow up to 128 GB hard drives.

    @Steve – that sounds like a fun project. I’ve wanted to learn how to hook up a Mac to a TV for some time now, anyway.

  4. This was my first non beige Mac. I had bought mine for $300 from Mac of All Trades and used it to replace my Performa 6200CD. I remember using that CD player in OS 8 many times in college. Before selling this machine I had it up to 10.3 running on it, but it go its most use with 10.2 and classic running back when it was my main machine. I miss it.

  5. A lovely machine…

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