Cannot Boot iMac from Hard Disk or OS 10.3 CD

I mostly work on PCs but have done some work on Macs so I took this client.  He brought me a graphite iMac G3 with 256 MB RAM and OS X 10.3 Panther complaining that he could not get the modem to dial.  The first thing I noticed was odd was that when I turned it on, it took about 6-8 minutes (every time) to boot up the OS.  It would just show the gray apple and the spinning wheel and then finally go to color and login.  Despite this dragging, it operated fairly quickly once started.

Once booted, The Ethernet connection worked great but the modem would not dial.  I zapped the PRAM, troubleshot the modem settings, and upon recommendation from Apple's web site, attempted to reinstall Panther.

When I insert the Panther CD 1, it shows on the desktop and I click "Install OS x" and it asks to restart the computer.  Done. But all it would do is bring up the gray apple screen and the spinning wheel and sit there.  So, I tried rebooting holding down C.  Same thing.  Rebooting and holding option:  the HD and the CD show up and I use the mouse to choose the CD and then even left it overnight but still spinning in the morning.  Also tried command-option-o-f and the boot cd tbxi (forget exact syntax, though at the time I typed it exactly as showed on Apple's website) but no booting.  Tried that again and got a kernel panic.

Tried various fixes: resetting nvram, reset-all, fsck, which will not repair the drive--says it cannot repair the hard disk, booting to safe mode, and others.  Now, I cannot even get into the OS as when I wait the 6-8 minutes for it to boot it now brings up a login screen and when I click the user, it goes to Darwin and prompts for login.  I type it and it prompts for password.  There is no password so I hit enter..  It says login incorrect.  "Login: could not determine audit condition"

I don't have any other Macs to boot from to make this one the target of a clean install over a network or to download any other utllities or make any other boot disks.  Is there any way of fixing this?
computerdoctortexarkanaAsked:
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juanolleConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Try boot in verbose mode (Command-V) so You can see where it goes wrong...
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strungCommented:
Is the Panther CD a full retail version, or an OEM disk that came with another Mac? Macs will not boot from OEM CD's meant for a different model. OEM CD's are specific to the model they came with.

Your iMac is old enough to boot from OS 9. Do you have an OS 9 CD or the original OEM Cd that came with the iMac?
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computerdoctortexarkanaAuthor Commented:
It is a full retal version of Panther, I think.  It says "Mac OS X Panther Version 10.3 Install Disk 1 Version 10.3.5 2Z691-5133-A"

And no I do not have OS 9.
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computerdoctortexarkanaAuthor Commented:
How do I boot in verbose mode and also boot from the CD?  
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strungCommented:
I am sort of running out of ideas. I don't know what the cause of the problem is, but 256megs of RAM is really not enough to run OS X.  Having said that, if it ran OS X before, allbeit slowly, that is not likely what is causing the grey screen.
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pheidiusCommented:
When you attempted to reinstall did you zero out the drive first as you formatted it. The one thing that I noted in your report that stands out was fsck's failure to repair the disk. if you run fsck multiple times and it still fails to repair then I would start thinking hard drive. Do you have a little, known good hard drive hanging about to pop in. It is not difficult at all to remove the case it is like four screws then just pry it off towards the front side. .Removing the metal shield is about 6 little screws and then you have access to the drive cage. If you also happen to have another 256 of low density pc-1oo sdram then it would not hurt to add it temporarily.
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strungCommented:
Here are disassembly instructions for older iMacs. Note that the instructions differ depending on whether the iMac is one of the older ones with tray loading CD or one of the newer ones with a slot loading CD:

http://www.macworld.com/article/2496/2001/10/howtoimac.html
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computerdoctortexarkanaAuthor Commented:
The weirdest thing happened.  I booted the computer in verbose mode and saw lots of errors as it booted from the hard disk, which is why it was going so slowly.  Then, I rebooted again holding option down and navigated to the OS X Installer disk and then held down command-v when it rebooted.  It did not open in verbose mode, but I'll damned if it didn't boot from the CD.  I got a clue as to what might have been wrong in that after I selected install options, it started to verify the installer CD and said there was an error when it got to 96%. So, I ejected, cleaned the CD and rebooted the same way and it booted from CD again and then I told it to skip the verification of the CD and deselected everything that I didn't absolutely have to have to install OS 10.3.5.  IT WORKED!!  I wiped the HD and it boots up in about 2-2.5 minutes, at least as fast as Vista starts on my 4 month old HP laptop with 1 GB RAM, which is pretty impressive for speed on an old computer with not much memory.
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computerdoctortexarkanaAuthor Commented:
Verbose mode did it but I never did get an answer as to how to boot into verbose while booting from the CD>
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