In Praise of the $100 Computer

A nice reminder this week of the value of old Macs, and a bit of crossover between Current and Vintage Macintosh computing. Always an enjoyable Low End Mac experience!emac-sm

I recently acquired several old Macs while working with a client, one of which was an eMac. The eMac is a very capable G4-based system, the descendent of the G3 iMac. Originally designed for the education market (hence e-Mac), it was a good price/value configuration for under $1000 and Apple sold millions to consumers.

Compared to the iMac it’s a rather subdued design, and heavy with a built-in 17″ CRT monitor, but it’s built to withstand abuse. This specific eMac had the tilt/swivel base option, which is quite practical and substantially improves the visual aesthetic of the system. We Mac nerds care about such things…

I reformatted the drive and installed Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” along with OS 9 for Classic and iLife ’06. This combination runs very nicely on a G4 and provides compatibility with a wide range of old and new Mac software – run Classic apps side-by-side with modern versions of Mail, Safari and Firefox.

At about the same time, another client asked if I had any old Macs available for an associate who needed a functional computer for her family’s use. Basically just internet and word processing, but she had a limited budget. eMac to the rescue!

We got in touch, and I offered to sell the computer for $100. She asked “why so cheap?” I said that’s about what they’re worth, and I’m just happy to see it go to a good home. Turns out video editing is one of her hobbies, so having a copy of iMovie and iWeb (along with FireWire ports) was very welcome. A 1GHz G4 running iMovie HD (version 6) is nothing to sneeze at, lots of good work has been (and will be) done on such a platform.

She stopped by one morning this week to pickup the computer. The next day I got this email:

Thanks for the eMac. I am in love with it. I have an external hard drive with video footage on it I forgot about so I will be having fun soon editing.

What one person has outgrown, now provides options for somebody else. There is room at all levels in the marketplace for Macs of all ages. A toast in praise of the $100 computer!

One response to “In Praise of the $100 Computer”

  1. Adam Rosen says:


    Anonymous said…
    Amen! People may not think of eMacs when they picture svelte Mac desktops, but they’re venerable workhorses, and SOLID. They’re also a great upgrade from a G3 iMac if you have kids who tend to be rough on their things. I’m glad you found it a good home!
    – GGeek
    November 9, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    Anonymous said…
    Super article and a much-needed reminder of the value and usability of older Mac models and software in these days when so many obsessively pursue the latest model, revision, upgrade, etc. Some may find that rat race necessary, but there is much to be said for earlier machinery and software which is perfectly viable and not ready for the toxic waste dump just yet! (PS: how many Windows machines of this vintage can still do what this eMac can do?)
    November 10, 2009 at 9:59 PM

    Anonymous said…
    To quote someone else from Low End Mac, “Every working computer is useful to somebody.” That’s a statement I can fully back, even while being all too prone to technolust for the latest and greatest myself (but that’s mostly because I’m into computer gaming, and people who just do basic Office/Internet stuff can get by with much less).
    November 14, 2009 at 7:02 PM

    Anonymous said…
    Good job keeping an older Mac useful!! I still miss using my old Imac G3 500mhz Indigo, my 24″ Imac is nice but the old one was just “different” somehow. Keep up the good work.
    November 16, 2009 at 12:24 AM

    Anonymous said…
    I am entering this on an eMac 1,25 GHz, OS X 10.5.8, 1 GB RAM. It is a backup production machine for my wife, who is an editor and teacher. I use it mainly for web/email, no problem. Too bad you cannot run Snow Leopard on a PPC, or I’d give it a try.
    December 9, 2009 at 2:48 PM

    Jared Schneedle said…
    I have a PowerBook G4 1.33GHz as my main computer. I upgraded it with 1.25GB memory, a 160GB hdd and installed Leopard on it. It does everything that I need to do almost as fast as the MacBook Pros that I’ve tried out in the past. I do web development and movie editing and so far there isn’t anything I need to do that it can’t do. PowerPC G4s are very underrated. I don’t see why people think their current computer is suddenly obsolete just because a new one comes out.
    December 9, 2009 at 3:48 PM

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