In the last eight years or so, I’ve had a total of about ten all-in-one iMacs come through Idiot Central in assorted models and colors. I’ve kept my eye out for them here and there because they are usually very cheap, mostly bombproof, and will still run OS X at a reasonable enough speed to be useful. However, ten-year-old circuitry gets finicky after awhile, and like anything else, exhibits personality quirks. I’ve had a handful of first-generation colored versions with wonky old hard drives and dead CD-ROM drives, and slot-loading models with twitchy video and fragile power units just waiting for a brief hiccup in current to fry the motherboard. All have been purchased from Craigslist and flea markets and rummage sales, all were put to good use for various projects (or resold), and over the years they’ve finally bit the dust in one way or another, except for one.
I bought Purple—named for its case color—through an ad in the Pennysaver (yeah, that’s right, this was before Craigslist made it to Mobtown) from a chain-smoking dude in Glen Burnie, who may or may not have acquired it by means illegal, and who certainly sketched me out. Before I had a music server set up on it, it first ran home-automation software here at the house. Then, it was a production webserver. For a while it was my mother’s stand-in iMac when her original blueberry model bit the dust, until we got her a laptop. For the next four years, I stuffed it to the gills with my music collection, and it sat under my desk, dutifully hosting my music library. It’s been opened and closed so many times, I can’t remember what the original configuration ever was. A few weeks ago I humped it into idfive and booted it up after a year of retirement, and it cheerfully resumed its duties without complaint.
Like the proverbial Timex, it kept ticking, until this week, when it suddenly refused to wake up from sleep. Several attempts to get it to boot from an emergency disk failed, and finally it offered the weirdest possible sign of trouble I’ve ever seen: a shifted, half-blank display of pixels all running for the edges like animals escaping from a zoo. I pulled the drive the other night and booted it from a spare enclosure; it came up immediately and with no problems, which pointed back to problems within the machine itself. Sadly, I pulled the RAM and clock battery out, then buttoned it back up in preparation for a trip to the dump. I have one last iMac in the basement that’s available for a heart transplant; strangely enough, I’ve been meaning to get rid of that one for the last few months every time I trip over it, but providence made sure I was too busy to ever get around to it.
So, farewell, old friend. It’s been a good five years, and you’ve certainly paid for yourself.