The post below exemplifies the ebb and flow of the Mac Museum over time. I’ll focus on it for months at a time, purchasing, organizing, and writing only to let it sit untouched for a year. Then I rediscover it and start over. I wrote this post in 2013 and basically forgot to publish it. Here it is in its entirety.
I haven’t written about the Mac Museum very much lately, but things have been happening slowly.
A few months ago I decided that I needed to reorganize my museum. I had some new Macs on their way and I really had no where to put them. As it was I had Macs crowded onto end tables, stacked on top of one another, and on the floor. It wasn’t very pretty. I looked at the space and evaluated whether or not I could move things around at all and decided that wouldn’t work. I could buy some strong shelving and expand… if my wife would let me. Luckily she did and I was able to do a bit of a reorg.
I added a bookshelf in the corner to hold all of my boxed software, boxed accessories, and disks / CDs, all of which were previously hidden away inside various cabinets. Now they are visible to anyone that visits and they show off what I have. My biggest issue was storage space for my Macs so I solved that by installing three 3′ x 5′ shelves, one in the museum area and two in the “annex” area that formerly held shelving for our extra food (since moved to a different wall). It took a couple of days but now all of my Macs are off the floor and I have a little bit of space for future expansion.
- Power Macintosh 8600 – One of Apple’s large tower designs and my first 604-based Mac. I’ve been searching for one of these at a good price for a while now and finally found one in September. I ended up paying about $100 for mine, which is about average for one of these. The 604 and 604e were the most powerful PowerPC chips in general operation prior to the G3 and even held onto their performance superiority in floating point after. The 8600 was one of Apples higher-end machines in 1997, selling for $2,700. Owners were furious when Apple did not support the 604 under Mac OS X. A 300 MHz 604e was as fast or faster than the 233 MHz G3 that shipped in Apple’s early 1998 G3 machines and the original iMac. A group of dedicated Mac users were able to hack Mac OS X to install on the 604, maintaining compatibility up through Mac OS 10.4. I plan to install Mac OS X on it just to see how it performs in comparison to my G3 Macs. I also have a G3 upgrade card for it as well so I can measure the difference.
- Macintosh Color Classic – The Color Classic was the color Mac that users had been begging for… in the eighties. By the time it was released in 1993 there were too many alternatives with larger screens and more expansion. It was not very successful but became an instant collector’s item. It uses an updated version of the classic all-in-one Macintosh design with a 10″ color screen, bottom-mounted speaker, and front-mounted controls. It even has an LC expansion slot. It is a really cool looking machine but it’s hobbled by terrible performance. I scored mine in July for about $100, which is on the lower end of pricing for these.
- Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh – This may be the single most coveted machine for a Macintosh collector. It’s in the same group as the original Macintosh (which I have), the Lisa, the Macintosh Portable, and the PowerBook 2400c. The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (or TAM) was released in 1997 to celebrate Apple’s 20th anniversary. It was intended to show the future of industrial design in computers and features a flat panel display, vertically-mounted CD-ROM drive, keyboard with integrated trackpad, and Bose stereo speakers with subwoofer. It is painted with a dark gold metallic paint that makes it look different from everything on the market. In fact, it was the first machine completely designed under the stewardship of Jonathan Ive, a year before Steve Jobs came back into the picture. Apple only manufactured 12,000 models, eventually selling 11,601 and keeping the rest for itself and/or parts. The original price was an astronomical $10,000 which dropped to $7,500 before it went on sale to the public. Even that price was high for a machine with similar specs to Apple’s $2,000 line of desktop computers at the time. Sales were not that great and the price was eventually cut to $2,500 before the model was removed from Apple’s price lists. The limited run and sheer design of the TAM makes it sell extremely well on the collector’s market, fetching up to $1,000 for a model in good condition in the box. I spent $500 on mine, making it my most expensive museum purchase. I actually won the auction in July the day that I left Ireland. It was a fantastic deal because it came with the box and accessories. The only issues are a missing manual (which I actually already had) and a non-functioning keyboard. Otherwise it is in perfect condition. Part of my reorg was centered around making space for it on my desk so that I could display it to the world.
- 1 GHz eMac – Lynn has been looking out for Macs every time she visits a Savers store and snagged an eMac for me last month. For $15 she found a 1 GHz eMac with 256 MB RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, and a DVD SuperDrive. There is a sticker on it and a note that says that the screen “flickers” but I didn’t see any of that when I booted it up. I’ve already got a 700 MHz eMac but it is nice to have two as there are some subtle design differences between them. Savers is turning out to be a great place for finds!
A Gallery Showing
My original Macintosh made a showing at Matt Wyatt’s art gallery in August. The Rochester Museum of Fine Arts held an exhibition showing some of the work from Susan Kare, the artist who designed the icons for the original Macintosh. I allowed him to borrow my Mac to display at the opening of the show. It sat on a little table near the window, its yellowing case giving it a very vintage look. Ironically I by brining it to the gallery I found out that it can’t really run for more than five minutes before starting to act odd and then shutting down. My guess is that the capacitors are starting to go or that it’s simply overheating. Technically it still works, so I can still say I have a working original Macintosh.
- Zip & Jaz Mania – I had a little obsession with Iomega products over the summer that started with a Zip drive. The Zip drive was a staple in the Macintosh world in the late 1990s; you couldn’t open a Macworld without seeing at least two ads for one. Their 100 MB capacity combined with large files typical of desktop publishing made them immediately popular on the Mac platform. My obsession actually started with an Iomega Jaz drive that I picked up randomly on eBay in the early summer. The Jaz drive is the Zip’s larger brother. It uses 2 GB cartridges that have a magnetic platter inside, similar to a hard disk. I’d never used one so I though it was a good find on eBay. After playing with it I became interested in other Iomega products, which led me to all sorts of things – the 1 GB Jaz drive, the 100, 250, and 750 MB zip drive, SCSI Zip drives, Parallel Zip Drives, USB Zip drives… By the end of the summer I picked up a Parallel/SCSI Zip 100, a USB Zip 100, a USB Zip 250, a USB Zip 750, and Zip CD (an Iomega branded CD RW drive), and a bunch of Zip disks in various capacities. I’m proud to say that I actually didn’t spend a lot of money on it and skipped over most of the auctions that I was watching.
- NeXT Promotional Materials – After Steve Jobs left Apple in the 80’s and before he returned to Apple in the 90’s, he founded and ran a computer company called NeXT. The goal of NeXT was to create a computer even better than the Macintosh but focused on the scientific and education markets rather than the consumer market. NeXT built its own hardware just as Apple did – the computers, keyboards, mice, monitors, and printers. Everything was designed to the most minute detail. It even had it’s own Unix-based operating system called NeXTStep. It was difficult for NeXT products to find a market, eventually causing the company to discontinue its hardware business and port its software over to Windows machines. Apple bought NeXT, and Steve Jobs, in 1997. NextStep became the foundation for Mac OS X and later iOS. I found some beautiful marketing materials for the original NeXT products on the Low End Mac swap list. The materials are from 1990 and are in fantastic condition. They include information about both the hardware and NextStep software. It’s a pretty cool addition to my Apple-related museum.
- Apple Facts – Back in the nineties, Apple relied exclusively on authorized resellers to sell its products. It put a lot of time and effort into marketing materials for the resellers to use to help customers choose products. One of these was Apple Facts, a mini-book cataloging all of Apple’s products at the time. Each book is titled by month and year, i.e. 05.95 for May 1995, and includes a complete summary of all products available at the time. These are a collector’s dream because they span from 1991 all the way to 1998, full of descriptions, product photographs, specs, and handy comparison charts. The only thing not included are prices.
- AirPort Express – Apple introduced a miniature wireless base station in 2004 called Airport Express. It looked almost exactly like the power adapter that shipped with PowerBooks and iBooks at the time, though it was slightly longer. The idea was to provide a super-simple wireless base station that you could use in any room in the house. It has a light on the front that changes color (green, yellow, red) to indicate status and three ports on the bottom – ethernet, audio out, and USB. The Airport Extreme could either wirelessly extend an existing network or create a wireless network by plugging in an Ethernet cable from a router, modem, or existing network. The USB port provided wireless printer sharing across the network and the audio port could be used to stream music to remote speakers. All in all it was a pretty cool little contraption for $129. I found mine at Savers for $5. Somebody probably thought it was a power adapter.