Hello all. This is my first post, and sorry to say, I am asking for help already!

I have an early-2006 Intel iMac 20" with a 2Ghz processor, 2GB RAM. It has been used almost constantly and has been reliable, more or less, in that period. I have two external USB 2.0 drives of 1TB and 2TB (on which, Time Machine was happily backing up files until .... please read on).

Recently, I noticed that it had started to slow down and take forever to boot, culminating with a reboot into a flashing folder icon. To me, this meant "please replace my hard drive". My Superdrive more or less died about a year ago, and I had ordered a replacement drive. With this event, I ordered a 1TB internal 7200 Western Digital Caviar to replace the 250 WD OEM drive that it came with and prepared for surgery. Again, everything had been backed up via Time Machine onto the external 2TB USB drive that is maybe a month old.

Upon replacement of both the hard drive and Superdrive (the Matsu****a UJ-846 was replaced with a Panasonic UJ-875 with DMA/IDE), I attempted to boot from the Leopard 10.5.6 disk I had used to upgrade from 10.4.11.

So, I insert the disk and boot holding down the C key and at first, the disk spun up and I got the folder icon (not flashing), then the grey Apple logo, then finally, the circle with a line through it. Tried again to boot using Option (to choose my boot order - no menu ever appeared) and various other commands to try and force it to boot from the disk. Finally, I reconnected a bootable FireWire external drive I had and booted while holding down the T key in order to force boot from the FW drive. Same result. I also tried earlier install disks (10.2, 10.3) with no result. I also tried clearing the PRAM (no help). I may even done a rain dance (also no help).

My diagnosis is that, perhaps, because I replaced both the HD and Superdrive at once, there could be an issue with it not initializing the HD and, thus, not being able to "read" from the Superdrive. It also wouldn't read from an external drive plugged into an onboard USB port. Mere speculation, I know. I am going to try and make a bootable USB flash drive, thinking that, because this hardware is already onboard, it may actually be readable by the OS as it boots up.

I understand that it is old (4 years) but does this appear to be more than just a HD? Logic/motherboard, perhaps? Any suggestions are welcome, as I am in a bit of a time constraint, and am willing to just replace the whole thing, but not if I can resurrect it one more time. My hope is that, if there is any way I can just get this thing to see its TM backup, I can get a few more months out of it.

Thanks so much - sorry about the novel but I'm trying to provide as much info as possible!