Vintage iMac Restoration - Hardware Install

The iMac arrived in a box, a really heavy box. It's easy to forget how heavy these CRT-based computers were. Remember how heavy the keyboard from the iMac is? Well the iMac itself is rated at 34.7 lbs. That's equivalent to more than 6 MacBook Pro Retina 15 computers!

A gift real special, so take off the top. Take a look inside -- it's my iMac in a box

A gift real special, so take off the top. Take a look inside -- it's my iMac in a box

The computer, once unpacked, is in remarkable condition. There are few internal cracks, but overall it looks amazing for a thirteen year old machine. 

The computer, once unpacked, is in remarkable condition. There are few internal cracks, but overall it looks amazing for a thirteen year old machine. 

I booted up the machine to make sure it worked, and it did, but the old hard drive (13 years old!) is struggling. So, time to install the new hardware.

After turning the iMac on its head, I remove the plastic cover.

Next, I remove six screws to be able to lift off the metal shield

So far, so good. I want to pause here to say that I have never worked inside an Apple computer of this vintage. However, I spent a lot of time working inside PCs during this time period. Working on the iMac is amazing. The machine is just as beautiful inside as outside. The parts all fit together beautifully. I was expecting to have to blow a lot of dust out, but as you can see, it looks new and clean. The next step was to remove the old Hard Drive and to install the SSD.

The 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch bracket I purchased did not have screw holes on top, so I first lined up the bracket in the iMac, marked the holes, and drilled new holes. 1/8 inch drill bit worked great.

The 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch bracket I purchased did not have screw holes on top, so I first lined up the bracket in the iMac, marked the holes, and drilled new holes. 1/8 inch drill bit worked great.

Here is the SSD. It's a 32GB Transcend model that has a PATA interface (a rarity among SSD drives).

Here is the SSD. It's a 32GB Transcend model that has a PATA interface (a rarity among SSD drives).

A major challenge at this point was installing the laptop-to-desktop data/power adapter. For those that remember, IDE cables can usually be installed in two directions, but only work with a specific pin alignment. Sometimes there are missing pins to help. Sometimes there are grooves to help. In this case I had to look at the old hard drive and wing it. But I got everything right on the first try.

Here is the SSD with the cable adapter. I do not miss working with IDE cables. Not at all.

Here is the entire SSD assembly. The drive is mounted to the bracket adapter, in the correct direction, and the cable adapter is installed, in the correct direction.

The SSD assembly went right in. All of the cables aligned and fit. The iMac uses custom cables that are just long enough to fit. This is different than PCs of that era, that frequently had lots of extra inches of IDE and power cables all over the place. It was undoubtedly more expensive to use custome cables, but it probably allowed for easier manufactre, and definitely helped with airflow.

Here is the SSD assembly fully installed . Looks great.

Here is the 30GB hard drive that was removed. It's a Quantum Fireball. I think Quantum was acquired by Maxtor, who was acquired by Seagate. It's a beast.

So now it's time to put everything back together. On the way out, I install extra RAM (to bring th total to 1GB), install the airport card, and install a new PRAM battery.

The AirPort card installs easily. Connect the antenna and plug into the logic board like a stick of RAM. The original clear plastic antenna connection holder was still in place.

The RAM and AirPort card can be installed via this handy plastic hatch on the bottom of the iMac. Check out the detail and the materials for the inside of the door.

Old PRAM Battery.

New PRAM battery. Note the fine detail, including the padded metallic material forming the interface between the metal shield and the plastic body. 

Time to button things up and flip the machine over. Now we connect the power cable, kebyoard, and mouse. Will it work? To be continued...

In the year 2000.

In the year 2000. (You need to read both of these in the voice and with the melody of Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter).