New Apple Macintosh G3 Pro - Yosemite

FTLComm - Tisdale - February 27, 1999
This interesting new computer was first released at the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco on January 6th and the first ones began arriving at dealers sites almost two weeks ago. Faster Than Light Communications new G3 Pro arrived Friday and I think it was to early. (some dealers refer to the G3 Pro as "The Blue and White")

The revolutionary new iMac that came on the scene this spring began a new trend in computing as it came as a top of the line computer and all the normal things computer dealers like to talk about were pretty much taken care of. Apple's G3 line of computers (G3 refers to third generation of IBM/Motorola developed PowerPC RISC processor chips) out perform all other computers and their processors cost much less then Intel and Intel clone chips. Apple decided to build its entry level computer, the iMac, instead as a lower performance, lower valued machine these little egg shaped blue computers are in fact, state of the art.

In January the office work station line of computers and the servers which were also G3 based machines were replaced with a new line of equally modern looking boxes, only these are powered with IBM/Motorola copper based G3 processors. The iMac was such a departure from conventional computing designed as an Internet appliance and older technology, floppy disks were discarded and Apple went to the new computer standard of USB (universal serial bus) which makes adding peripheries very easy to install and operate. The new business machine followed this trend and added to it the new exotic standard "FireWire" which is intended to make the movement of data to and from computers faster and more efficient. The consequences of these decisions is going to produce a dramatic shift in the capabilities of modern computers, but also a good deal of confusion, until we all get equipment that will run with these new machines.

The new G3 Pro I got today is of an outstanding design. The translucent box mini-tower (no desktop version is produced) comes with built in handles and at the pop of a latch, the whole side of the machine swings open with the mother board and all storage bays accessible. Fabulous design work.

But, sports fans this is a computer that is definitely ahead of its time. We use the phrase a lot in computer technology suggesting that a particular piece of technology is innovative well before such a thing was expected. In the case of this computer I don't mean that at all, although it is an exciting computer and I have never seen anything move windows, open applications and execute commands with such dispatch and mine is the slowest one available, a mere 300Mhz, which most experts reckon is still faster then Intel's 500Mhz processor machines. But as I said before, this machine was released before its time. If I did not have another computer in my office, I would be out of luck in being able to do the tasks I normally do with my office machine. I sold my G3 266 and shipped it last Thursday so I was relying upon the new machine to take over the various tasks I do each day.

No such luck. My G3 Pro looks great but looks do not get jobs done. The short comings make this machine very close to being a high tech ornament. The Internet has become an important part of computer technology and our business has always relied upon our ability to access it and keep our web pages up to date. My new G3 Pro will in a month's time, have a modem, but as of today, no such modem is available. The machine will be fitted with an internal modem, but since it is not yet available, I will have to make due with an older external modem, no, I don't think so. The new G3 Pro does not have an external serial port to connect a convention modem or any other serial device to, it only has the new USB port. Apple plans to have a very inexpensive serial port PCI card available for this function but it is not available in Canada at this time. For the past month, I have been pressing my supplier, EMJ to find out how I can get this device and they have been unable to find out the answer to that question. Fortunately the G3 Pro comes with built in Ethernet which means I can connect to the old reliable 6150 server in our office which right now has a monitor installed on it for the first time in its life, as it has to handle all Internet work.

Well that seems like a minor inconvenience, in a month I should have the internal modem to conduct my work. But what about scanning, or making a CD, or accessing an external hard drive. All of those devices in my office and in most Macintosh equipped offices use SCSI devices. SCSI became available in 1986 and has been doing a fine job ever since. No sports fans, the new G3 Pro does not have a SCSI port. The plan is for folks like me is that Apple will sell us a PCI, inexpensive SCSI card that will let us hook up these devices, however that card is not available to the supply channel in Canada as yet.

Never fear, the G3 Pro is fast right, and can handle all sorts of chores. No, I don't think so. My digital camera, an Epson PhotoPC 500 transfers pictures using a conventional serial cable, and as mentioned no such connection is available for the G3 Pro at this time.

Well, I can always use video, before I went to the digital camera I could always use my Camcorder for imaging, we did that with our LCIII back in 93 using a Video Spigot, still have it but the LC III is long gone, the 660AV did a fine job of importing video but it too is gone, the 5200 had a great TV system, still have the TV system but the 5200 was sold years ago. When the PCI machines came out I bought an ATI Xclaim VR card that can handle video in and out used it on three or four machines including the G3 266. The great thing about it was it supported a second monitor which gave me outstanding productivity and today I was eager to get the second monitor going and import some video I had taken last weekend. Well that doesn't work either. The progress of time has seen Apple change its ROM system and the three year old ATI video card is not compatible with this new machine. ATI assured me that they would upgrade my card, I just needed to send it off to them by courier and they would make some changes and in a few weeks I would be back in business.

But it looks just great.

New technology should not be a disappointment, it should work and should be able to incorporate the peripheries of the past into its new capabilities. A box for a just over a hundred dollars will soon be available that will let me import video directly into and out of the G3 Pro using the amazing FireWire technology Can I do that tonight, no, not tonight.

I won't be using this elegant piece of electronic sculpture for a month or more. Until then it will sit around looking pretty and the work will be done by a first generation PowerPC 6150 dragging itself along at 66Mhz and crashing about three times a day because I keep over extending the memory utilisation on it, as it shrugs along with three hard drives, the CD burner and scanner connected to it and downloads the digital pictures, uploads the web page and collects the e-mail and faxes.

But the new machine looks great.