While going to rummage sales, I ran across a Macintosh G3 tower. The
seller said it works, and told me to just take it for free. I have
always wanted to play around with an Apple computer, so I took it. I
plugged in the monitor from my PC, turned it on, and it boots up to the
The problem is that there is no mouse or keyboard. I quickly found that
the small round connector, which is called DIN on a PC, is similar on
the Apple, but is called a ADB connector. The weird part, is that
there's only one of them, so I'm not sure how you can connect both a
keyboard and mouse to it. These have less pins than a PC connector, so I
cant just use any keyboard or mouse.
I googled some of this, and found that they often used a USB keyboard
and mouse. The tower only has 2 USB ports, so a keyboard & mouse would
use up both (that sucks).
I dont have any USB keyboards or mice, so I will have to buy something.
But I'm not going to spend a lot, since this computer is old (1999). But
I'd still like to play around with it.
It seems that the original ABD keyboards sell for big money, so I wont
even consider buying one of them. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing
that I could use ANY mouse with a USB plug (is that true?)
But can I use a USB keyboard which is made for a PC? (Knowing that the
specific "windows" keys will be worthless).
Hopefully someone on here uses Apple computers and can tell me what I
can use, and buy for little money.
By the way, it has OS9 for the operating system, so it was apparently
upgraded since they sold with OS8.x (according to what I read on the
On 6/7/2016 12:17 PM, email@example.com wrote:
I don't recall if the G3 used ADB (I'll have to take your word on it).
But, ADB is a beast unto itself. It is a bidirectional ONE WIRE
interface (the four pins are power, ground, "data" and poweron -- you
turn the computer on by pressing a button in the upper corner of the keyboard)
I.e., you can't use anything in place of an ADB keyboard other than
an ADB keyboard!
The keyboard has two connectors on it. You plug a cable into one
to connect it to the computer. Then, you plug the (ADB!) mouse
into the other connector.
USB keyboards can usually be found for $1 (craig's list, auctions, surplus,
etc.). The local university periodically sells a laundry cart full of
these things for ~$7 -- and usually has a tough time finding someone to
The problem you will find is bringing up the computer. A USB keyboard might
work -- but probably only after the OS is running. I.e., if you ever have to
install from scratch, you might discover that it REQUIRES a genuine keyboard
to interact with the machine.
I assume you mean MacOS v9. (OS/9 is a different beast, entirely)
Yes, it does have the ADB. I had to look up the name of it on the web.
They said the G3 (or was it the G4) was the last model to use it. I
think I'd rather use the USB. Especially since I need a mouse too.
Yea, but those are PC keyboards. I unsderstand they wont work properly
on a Mac because the Mac needs some special keys. I read on some website
that there is software to redefine the keys, but that could get
complicated (I guess).
I assume I can use a standard USB mouse though, but I dont have any of
them, so I'll have to buy one.
So I either need a genuine Mac USB or ADB keyboard, for things to work
On 6/7/2016 7:30 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
It depends on how convenient you want the system to be -- how you value time
I've found it easier just to have the "right" keyboard for each machine,
here. One less thing I have to remember (e.g., have caps lock and control
been swapped on this keyboard? or not? where's the "Compose" key?
which key increases the screen brightness??). Especially when I'm
switching between keyboards on the fly (working on two or more computers
at the same time).
On Tue, 07 Jun 2016 22:30:22 -0400, email@example.com wrote:
When a good friend of mine died last winter, his brother went through
his stuff and gave to Goodwill two Mac keyboards, and then I was
supposed to get the data off his computer. We went to Goodwill
together and they had everything in boxes but wouldn't let us look at
the boxes. The brother said they were wide enough they'd be sticking
out so we woudln't have to open anything, but you know how people are.
He called someone and was told that a PC keyboard would work, and
indded it does. At least with this Mac10.4 which is 10 years old I
think, and anything newer.
There are only about 3 keys to worry about, and 2 of them are easy. Of
course I'm only doing a little bit one it but you can at least use a
I looked in the computer for my list but after not finding it I
remembered I put it on paper, whatever that is.
But just google mac pc key substition, there are several pages.
On 6/7/16 3:17 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Seems to me if the g3 has USB ports, you can use a USB keyboard and mouse.
Any USB keyboard should work, be aware that the keys on the bottom (to
the left and right of the space bar) will have different functions than
as they work with Windows.
If you get the right USB keyboard, it will have additional USB ports on
it into which you can plug a USB [wired] mouse.
Any wired USB mouse should work as well. You'll have to set up "the
right button" in the Mac's control panel.
OS9 is the old "Classic" Mac OS.
Not sure if the g3 you have will run OS X, and even if it can, it will
only be an older version of "X" that will run on it.
Does it have an Ethernet port in back?
You can probably get it online without too much trouble.
I'm not sure how well the now-obsolete Classic Mac browsers will work
with today's internet.
Newsgroup reading should be fine, think I used Netscape for it back then.
A site that may be of use to you:
This URL has a lot of useful info. Thanks for the link.
You said "OS9 is the old "Classic" Mac OS".
Being that I have no experience with Mac computers at all, I am trying
to get some idea of comparison of the Mac operating systems to those of
the PC. Based on the year, I'd take a wild guess that OS9 is simular to
Windows XP. (Just a guess), or is it more like Windows 98 or 2000, or
Vista, or Win7, or ????
I know this is like comparing apples to oranges (no pun intended on the
"apples"), but on a level of power and usefulness there must be some
sort of comparison.
One thing I did notice is that the RAM in this computer seems really
small at 256mb (Four 64mb strips). But from what I've read, the Mac
computers dont seem to need as much RAM as does PC computers.
Yes, I do have an ethernet port, but at this point I am not yet sure how
to use it to go online. Until I get a mouse and keyboard, I cant do much
of anything except boot it up and shut it off.
I am curious whether I can download Mac software on a PC, then install
it to the Mac, using a USB flash drive??? Can a Mac even read a standard
flash drive (usually formatted to Fat 32).
Thanks for the help!
On 6/8/2016 11:54 AM, email@example.com wrote:
No. It's a very different "look and feel".
Probably the most noticeable (other than the root-weave "wallpaper")
aspect is that each "window" (application) does NOT have the typical
user-interface cruft along the top (menu bar, icons, etc.).
E.g., in the windows world, a fair portion of the screen real-estate is
consumed (wasted) with these application-specific user interface adornments.
So, if you have three Firefox windows on your desktop, you have three
copies of the "File Edit View History..." menu bar, three copies of the
tabs local to that window instance, three copies of the address bar, three
copies of the bookmark bar, etc.
Even though only ONE of those will actually be "active" and "useable" at
any given moment (i.e., whichever window happens to have the focus -- if
In MacOS, the window with the current focus presents its menu across the
top of the screen. So, if you move the focus to different windows
(regardless of where they are located on the screen), the top "line"
of the display keeps changing to reflect the menu bar that *would* have
been present in that window (*if* it had been a PC).
The graphics tend to be a lot cruder -- more like the DOS GEM interface.
And, the machine will feel sluggish (typically Macs were purchased
"underpowered" to save $$).
Another worthwhile feature (that proved difficult to implement in the
heads of users) is the concept of a "file type" NOT being part of
the file's NAME (e.g., "MyCorrespondence.txt") but, rather, a resource
associated with the file instance.
So, you could have a file named "MyStuff.doc" that is processed via a
spreadsheet program, not a "text editor" (e.g., MSWord). And, another
file called "MyOtherStuff.doc" that is processed by a photoeditor!
(In the Windows world, the "extension" is treated as an indication of
the file's "type". So, "MyFile" has "no" type information associated
with it; "MyFile.txt" is typically considered to be "ASCII text"
handled by the Notepad.exe application (and "YourFile.txt" will ALSO
be handled by Notepad -- regardless of what you actually put inside the
A fair bit of user interface code that windows puts in RAM (loaded off disk)
resides in the system ROMs. E.g., remove the disk from your system and
you'll still get a GUI-ish display with which you can interact. Remove
the disk from your PC and you'll get a couple of lines of *text*, no
mouse support, etc.
Download protocols (FTP, HTTP, etc.) dont care about the content that's
being downloaded. OTOH, the various resources and other "forks" in
MacOS applications need to be handled appropriately as they don't
magically come along for the ride (i.e., you may have to redefine certain
handler aspects after installing the apps)
You might, instead, want to look into a newer Mac -- OSX based.
Perhaps so, but I have an old G3 Mini-Tower that was "top of the line"
when new. I got the fastest processor and filled it with maximum RAM.
It did not seem sluggish at the time.
It definitely runs early versions of OS X.
Yo're speaking from *your* budgetary standpoint. Most Mac users
that I know were disappointed that they didn't "buy more horsepower".
Considering the price premium they were paying for their Mac's
(relative to comparable and faster PC's), it was understandable that
they would want to save a few bucks.
But, folks are ill-equipped to understand what ACTUAL consequences
memory and CPU choices will have on their user experience.
"At the time" also only makes sense if you want to run software of
comparable vintage. I bought a pair of 25MHz 386's in ~1986 each
with hardware floating point and a whopping 13MB of RAM. They
were greased lightning, at the time. Compared to friends still
running 286's at the time... <shrug>
But, each subsequent software release would get sloppier and sloppier
until the same hardware became quite sluggish. And, it's dubious
that those software updates were adding much by way of increased
[OTOH, some tasks were CPU limited even back then; a 3D render
of some of my models would take more than 24 hours of wall time]
And the Quadras "adequately" ran A/UX. I doubt many folks would
want to step back there when they could get a flusher experience
on cheaper and faster hardware, today!
I see only two reasons to support/run old/antique hardware:
- supporting a legacy tool or application
[I've done this in the past to verify some of my devices would
interoperate with particular machines, even those past their
prime -- as expecting folks to upgrade JUST to be able to
use your device is arrogance]
- curiosity (what was XYZ like -- from a user and/or technical view?)
When you can pick up a more powerful machine, second hand, for
$20, that should be an upper limit on how much your time can
be worth chasing history!
I remember GEM. I played with that in the early 90s. At the time it was
I'm surprised that the graphics are crude, when over the years I have
heard time and time again, that the Mac computer was always preferred
for people who do graphical work professionally. And this goes back many
years. (Which would include the time period the G3 was in use). I
recall seeing some business that went to events and would print
photographs onto T-shirts, and they used a Mac. What they produced was
very high quality! This was in the late 90's.
I can understand it being sluggush with so little RAM. I read the G3 can
get up to 1gb of Ram.
Mine has a "Rage" video card, which I guess was (or is) common! I
noticed that as soon as I opened it. Which, by the way, is a great
setup. It opens so easily without needing any tools.
Either way, this is just another adventure with computers. I have tried,
rebuilt, or build darn near every older computer. I probably have about
30 old computers in my collection, going all the way back to the
original XT and on up to the Pentium 4. All are PCs, none are really
new, and I dont care to use any operating system newer than XP.
So, this Mac is my first Apple computer to play with, and may be the
beginning of something new, since I dont really care to continue with
Microsoft's newer bloatware crap, and while I've played with Linux, it's
not for me.
On 6/9/2016 12:55 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
The graphics are in ROM -- the equivalent of the PC's "BIOS".
The difference being that the PC has *no* graphics capability
until an OS is loaded.
An application (under MacOS) can add all sorts of fancy graphics
beyond the "core" graphics that are supported in the boot ROM.
A PC can't "browse the internet" -- or do anything other than
PXE boot, typically -- until the OS is loaded. Yet, the hardware
hasn't changed between the time you powered it up and started
browsing the web.
Rage video (ATI) is a reasonably low end card by today's standards.
No accelerators, etc. E.g., I think a few of my *servers* use
Rage chipsets (and servers are not known for having fancy video
The older Macs were largely "slide together" (I hesitate to even
say "snap" together). Some of the Quadra's had a single screw, IIRC.
I don't believe this is the case, currently. Definitely not for
the MacBooks, etc.
If you are looking for an adventure, you might try building a Hackintosh.
I've wanted to play with a newer Mac but hesitate to borrow one from
any of my friends as that will "void" my "Sorry, I can't help you
solve your Mac problem; I don't know anything about Mac's" excuse.
[The more folks know you can do, the more they rely on you for help.
The adage "Never admit that you can repair TV's" applies to much of
today's technology as folks are increasingly clueless...]
"Crude" is relative! Perhaps someone is thinking of the original
Macintosh. The G3 is not as crude as that. It may not be as sharp as
the best HD TV today, but is close enough.
I understand OS X 10.2.8 will run on the G3 Mini Tower.
Apple released an OS X Public Beta Edition, which was designed to expire
5/14/01. If you can find a disk image of that Public Beta, you can
create a CD that will run on the G3 if you first set the computer's date
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.