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I am going to buy an old iMac G3 Over the next couple of days/weeks, and I want to make sure that I am buying a system with no problems. I usually ask for the serial number and good pictures before buying, but I want to know what to do when I physically meet the person I decide to buy from. What should I do when with the buyer to test the system to know what defects it may have? The system would either be running Mac OS 8 or 9 (classic), or OS X. If there is a set of things I should do, or a program I should run what would that be?

Generic iMac G3 Picture

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I rarely look at more than these 3 things when purchasing a "new" retrocomputer from a local seller:

  1. Cosmetic & mechanical condition: I prefer clean & undamaged cases, keyboards, mouse, etc. Of course, dirt and grime is usually present but easily removed. However, cleanliness is also a good indication of proper storage.
  2. Operational condition: Does it turn on and boot up. If the internal HD is not working, can you at least boot from external media (floppy, or CD-ROM installer disk in the case of the iMac).
  3. Specifications: I like to know what's inside the box before I buy it. For many machines this means popping the lid and having a look inside. Not all sellers have patience for this, but most will not care, if the case is easily opened. For an iMac, forget about opening it, but you can look at the System Profiler to see all the details of the internal electronics.

Of course, you could spend a lot of time quizzing the seller about the history of the machine and trying to pick their brain to see what they can remember about it. This can be entertaining, but its ultimately unnecessary once you confirm the above 3 items. As with any purchase, if the price seems too high, or you feel insecure about the purchase, then just pass. There will be others.

  • Yeah, earlier I had bought a specific Dell model for forensic analysis. Just got it out for retrogaming, and had the opposite problem. Turns out its guts are from a much newer model and they hacksawed in a 450W power supply to run a fat Radeon video card. Its supplied HD has Win7 and it can run Steam. Did not see that coming. – Harper Dec 2 '18 at 20:04

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