Vintage Mac: What Happened?

To start with, let me assure you that I have not given up on this blog. I received a surprising amount of emails asking about when new entries will surface.
The thing is: I have been very busy with work over the past months. So busy in fact, I often lacked the time to unpack and check some of the vintage Macs I bought. Imagine that.

While a mint condition, upgraded G4 Cube still eludes me, I bought some other vintage Macs and even went so far as get some pieces of the pre-PowerPC era: 68k Macs.

To give you an idea (and at the same time safe some effort to not repeat what I got recently to friends over and over again) here is what I acquired in the past months:

Power Macintosh G4 (MDD)
apple_powermac_g4_mddYear: 2002
2x PowerPC 7455 (G4) @ 867Mhz, 768MB RAM, 120GB HDD
The first “Mirrored Drive Doors”. Not the best choice for a vintage Mac to be honest, but at 25,- Euros I will not complain. The reason I actually got it is because I needed a Mac with ADC port – as cheap as possible and ASAP. In preparation for getting a G4 Cube at some point I got myself three Apple Studio Displays (15”, 17” and 20”). Problem however was, I couldn’t test if they actually worked. This Power Mac did the trick and all displays turned out to be in good working condition. Now I know I am ready for a good G4 Cube 😉

 

iMac G3/500 (indigo)

apple_imac_500_indigo2Year: 2001
PowerPC 750cx (G3) @ 500MHz, 1GB RAM, 40GB HDD, 14” up to 1024×768 built-in CRT
Another cheap buy. I didn’t even intend to get one of the original iMacs, but who could say no to one that’s actually in good shape at 15,- Euros including shipping?
The funny thing about those “second generation” iMacs (slot loading optical drives) is that they don’t use fans and rely solely on convection cooling. This in turn means that they run absolutely silent – if it weren’t for the HDD that in those days was loud, really loud or defeating, dependent on the model…

 

iMac G3/350 (blueberry)

apple_imac_350Year: 1999
PowerPC 750 (G3) @ 350MHz, 320MB RAM, 6GB HDD, 14” up to 1024×768 built-in CRT
Yet another cheap buy and again one I didn’t initially intend to get. But it was being sold locally for 12 Euros so I picked it up on my way from work. The AirPort card inside is worth that much on its own and I bought it for that card and its adapter board.

 

iBook Clamshell (indigo)

apple_ibook_indigoYear: 2000
PowerPC 750cx @ 366 MHz, 12.1” 800×600 color display, first iBook with FireWire
I actually got two of those, both in really good condition with the second one intended for spare parts when the time comes. Quite honestly I find them rather ugly, but since I got both for cheap I figured I’d go for it anyway.

 

 

 

PowerBook G3 FireWire aka PISMO

apple_powerbook_g3_fw_PISMOYear: 2000
PowerPC 750 (G3) @ 400MHz, 768MB RAM, 40GB HDD, 14.1” 1024×768 color display
That’s a real classic right there and after playing with it for a bit I can see why. Easy to take apart and fix, the most expandable notebook Apple ever produced and a keyboard that’s just a dream to type on. This one is actually likely to get some real use due to that keyboard alone. The one I got is in close to mint condition – a real collectable.

 

Power Macintosh 7100/80 & 7100/80AV
apple_powermac_7100Year: 1995
PowerPC 601 @ 80 MHz, 136 MB RAM, 700MB HDD
Never liked those rather ugly, large desktops, but they are really good machines and being able to run a wide selection of Mac OS versions I decided to get one. They are also great as a gateway to transfer files to and from older Macs, be it via floppies or network.
The 7100/80AV I got together with the Macintosh Classic since they were sold together months after I already had the 7100/80.

Power Macintosh 6100/60 & Houdini
Power Mac 6100Year: 1994
PowerPC 601 @ 60 MHz, 16 MB RAM, 250MB HDD
I didn’t really intended to buy this one as I feel that area is nicely covered with the 7100/80, but Houdini did it! Houdini is an expansion card Apple released for this Mac that hosts basically a whole 486 PC sans ports (except display) and storage. It even has a SoundBlaster and its own RAM. This means that you can run Mac OS and Windows 95 or 98 simultaneously and switch between the two operating systems with a key combination. Actually, you can connect a second monitor to the Houdini’s display port. Since the Houdini is basically a PC on a card, Windows runs parallel to Mac OS. Obviously I had to have this one and compared to most of the Macs I bought over the past months this one was rather pricey even though it needs some work to fix it up.

 

PowerBook Duo 270c (incl. all accessories)
apple_powerbook_duo270c Year: 1993
68030 @ 33 MHz, 12MB, 240MB HDD, 8.4” 640×400 color display.
There was a time in early 1994 where I actually looked at a Mac and it was the 270c. I needed a new notebook, something small and light. On the other hand I wanted something with some power and expandability when at home. The PowerBook Duo line has large docking stations where the notebook mechanically slid in (like a VHS tape) and the docking station offered all the connectivity one needed + additional video RAM and 2 expansion slots for card. But back then I decided to go once again with an IBM ThinkPad. Today I wish I went with the 270c and thus got into Macs earlier…

 

Macintosh LC II
apple_mac_lc_iiYear: 1992
68030 @ 16 MHz, 4MB RAM, 120MB HDD
The awesome “pizza box” form factor. Came with a fitting Apple 13” color monitor with one of those half-flat SONY Triniton CRTs. It really looks nice being that slim with that tiny screen on top of it. It does however seem to need some serious work to make it run as it sometimes boots and sometimes doesn’t. I am already looking forward to fix this little guy.

 

Macintosh Quadra 700
apple_quadra_700Year: 1991
68040 @ 25MHz, 20MB RAM, 160MB HDD
I remember this one from when I was young. The Apple reseller I passed on my way to university had it on display boasting about how incredible fast it was. I also admit I really like the case and the rather small size. One of the first Macs to come with build-in AAUI to connect it to a “proper” network. This one is in dire need of HDD replacement. While the Quantum ProDrive inside works well, it produces a noise level beyond bearable. That being said, you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get a decent 3.5” SCSI HDD these days…

 

Macintosh IIsi
IIsiYear: 1990
68030 @ 20 MHz, 4MB RAM, 80MB HDD
This one will need some work, but I do like the slim look of it. I also came with an Apple 13” color CRT. Looking forward to fix it up and do some upgrades. I actually managed to get my hands on a replacement case for it that didn’t yellowed from old age. Like the LC II it would fit perfectly onto the keyboard tray below my desk I don’t use and connected to a beige NEC 20” IPS screen it would feel just at home. That’s the reason the slim form factor Macs stand a good chance to be fixed, upgraded and put into some use soon.

 

Macintosh Classic
apple_mac_classicYear: 1990
68000 @ 8 MHz, 4MB RAM, 40MB HDD
It doesn’t get any more classic than a Classic. Well, except maybe Classic II, Color Classic or a Color Classic II. I would love to have a Color Classic II, but so far I haven’t come across one that’s in good shape at a good price. This Classic on the other hand is in great condition and came at 95 Euros including the 7100/80AV mentioned earlier. Most important though: it is just so cute. You can place it anywhere in the house and your girlfriend or wife won’t object.

 

Since I didn’t have time to make photos on my own, I used pictures of these Macs from EveryMac.com – pretty much the best place to look up detailed specs of all Macs and compare Mac specs with each other.

Along the journey of buying all those Macs I also got a lot of other devices to complement them or in some cases to actually be able to do anything with some the older models. Among those things are:

  • Iomega ZIP drives (LPT for PC and SCSI for Macs) and some ZIP disks.
  • Apple 1.1GB external SCSI HDD (M2115).
  • Multiple AAUI and PhoneNet adapters for networking Macs.
  • AppleCD 150 external SCSI CD-ROM.
  • HDI-SCSI adapter for old PowerBooks.
  • VideoLogic DVA-400 NuBus graphics card
  • VGA converters to connect those old Macs to a “modern” NEC 20” IPS MultiSync display.
  • Various HDI display adapters for old desktops and notebooks as some don’t have the Apple 15-pin video port relaying solely on the HDI port for connecting displays.
  • Griffin FireWave external FireWire sound card.
  • Lots of new batteries for the notebooks. My gut-feeling tells me we won’t be able to buy them soon.
  • Something I never though I would buy ever again: 10 packs of floppy disks…

The odd thing is, that most of those devices cost significantly more these days than the Macs above. A DOS Compatibility Card aka Houdini or an original Apple external HDD cost easily 100,- Euros or more these days!

As you can see from the list above, 13 Macs joined the ranks of my small vintage Mac collection. I plan to put them to some use, set them up in a network and so on. Plenty to write about over the next couple of months provided I manage to find the time.

There have also been massive changes to my modern setups, but more about that in a few days.

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One comment

  1. Henry Rivas

    It feels good to see other people rescuing old macs, I have forgotten how many I have had I lost count in 98 when I use to say over 28, back then Macs were very expensive so I think of my self as one of those rebels that believed in Apple and supported it beyond my real financial ability. I was truly an original mac fan. Sadly when I go to the apple store I do not get that feeling anymore. I keep living the nostalgia of older times when playing strategic conquest over appletalk on my Mac 512Ke was the only way to spend Friday night with a friend. So far my latest project was to resurrect a PowerMac G5 and to my delight Starwars Galactic Battlegrounds works as fast as it will ever be. Other projects included an old Performa 5500, an original Mac Plus that upon connection fumed, and a pizza box Mac LCII. I wish the man cave had more space…
    Thanks a lot for keeping the old current.
    Henry

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