I have an old iMac that I got probably sometime in 2000. It's the kind that has a big old CRT monitor built into it, so I dare not take it apart myself. I haven't used it in a very long time, but it has been taking up valuable space for a while. I don't think there is anything sensitive on the hard drive, but I want to wipe it to be sure. After plugging it in again I've discovered that the level of difficulty is as follows:

  • A long time ago, around 2004 I think, I tried to install ubuntu on it. This was a failure, but I can't remember why. The practical effect of this is that the old OS will not boot when powered on.

  • There is no firewire port.

  • I burned to cd a program that would wipe the HD on boot up, but the cd drive will not accept any disk. It is unknown if there is already a disk in there. I've tried several methods of removing a stuck disk and while they produced a lot of mechanical noises from the drive, no disk was ejected. Probing with a paperclip gives the impression there is something blocking the slot on the inside.

  • When I power it on now the screen flickers continuously in a way that makes me nervous.

Has anyone had a similar experience, or know of another way to get at the HD?

Or is this a Kobayashi Maru scenario?

  • Unless it's a first-gen Bondi Blue, it is pretty much valueless, financially - so you could probably take a large hammer to it to destroy the drive (put it in a strong bag for if the screen goes kaboom whilst you're 'gently dismantling' it ;) then send the bits to the proper place for recycling. Those old iMacs are fingernail-losers if you wanted to dismantle it gently, though if you don't care about its preservation, a large screwdriver will do the job, possibly without smashing the screen – Tetsujin Aug 29 '15 at 18:35
  • Important note - don't touch the back of the screen if it's been powered on in the past 12 hours or so - big scary charge on the back of those CRTs. Final note - Kobayashi Maru is always passed by cheating – Tetsujin Aug 29 '15 at 18:40
  • @Tetsujin I have to disagree with you, even though the old iMacs are worthless now, the value of them will likely go up in the near future. So it's a very bad idea to destroy one of them, no matter the color. – RedEagle2000 Aug 29 '15 at 20:50
  • The value of Apple products typically go through stages in the product's life: the value starts out high when the product is brand new, then over the years the product becomes older and less desirable until it becomes obsolete, where it is next to worthless, like iBooks and PowerPC-based iMacs are now. Then, after the product becomes obsolete, it sometimes becomes collectable, kind of like the Macintosh 128k or the Lisa and sometimes becomes very valuable (I've heard one couldn't give a Lisa away 20 years ago, but now it's worth literally thousands of dollars). – RedEagle2000 Aug 29 '15 at 20:54

I would suggest, that assuming you can physically--and safely(!), taking note of the comment about voltages and CRTs--removing the hard drive and taking it apart. Most times you can get the actual platters/discs out without too much trouble and carefully smash them. Most are, I think, a metal coating on glass of some sort, so watch splinters wear eye protection, etc. This can be easier than smashing the metal case of the hard drive which might not actually destroy the platter(s).

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  • Exactly. I believe that the hard drive is one of the first things to come out of the iMac G3, anyway. – RedEagle2000 Aug 29 '15 at 20:56
  • Check out ifixit.com for take-apart instructions on your iMac. I think getting the HD out of a CRT iMac is not that hard, and can be done safely by anyone even remotely handy with a screwdriver – Steve Chambers Aug 29 '15 at 21:31
  • Truly that baby has I think it was 10000 volts when removing the flyback transformer from the back of the CRT. The tool to discharge the device is about 3 feet long. Truly do not repair the machine if you are unsure or nervous. – fingaz Aug 31 '15 at 1:43

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