Category: Vintage Mac

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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Vintage Mac: Software & Abandonware

Abandonware_Logo_1_small

Finding software for a vintage Mac is quite an undertaking. This starts with the operating system itself. Apple obviously doesn’t sell those outdated operating systems anymore. What you are left with are specialized dealers, craiglist or eBay. If you look at the prices at some good dealers like LowEndMac or Hardcoremac.com you’ll notice that we are talking serious money here. For popular PowerPC operating systems such as OS X Tiger or especially Leopard (the last OS X capable of running on PowerPC Macs) you are often looking at price tags above $200 or even $250. That in my personal opinion is just too much for an obsolete operating system, especially if you consider that unlike a PC, your old Mac initially came with an operating system that was included in its price.

If you are like me, you are left with eBay and Craiglist or their local equivalents in your country. That doesn’t mean you get your retail version of OS X or Mac OS there for cheap, but sometimes you can spot auctions or ads for far more reasonable prices like $50 or sometimes even less. You just have to spend a couple of weeks looking for a good find.

You also have to pay attention to what you are looking for. In general Apple operating systems are being offered as retail version, but also on gray disks that initially came with a Mac. These gray installation disks however do work with only a very limited selection of Macs, usually the ones they came with and maybe, just maybe and occasionally, other Macs from the same period.

I got myself OS X Leopard and Tiger (both retail) for $35 and $28 respectively, but it took close to 3 months to find them at these prices. I also snatched an old Mac OS 9 retail CD (unfortunately without the box) for mere $10 at a local store dealing in computer repairs and second hand hardware. Having both OS X Tiger and Mac OS 9 I felt I’m being covered in terms of my iMac G4. Wrong.

As it turned out, the Mac OS 9 (9.2.1) retail disk is basically too old for the iMac G4. It does boot, it even starts to launch Mac OS 9, but then the screen goes black and that’s it. Looks a lot like an issue with graphics drivers. What I would need is the original Mac OS 9 installation/restore disk that came with the iMac G4. Except I find it close to impossible to get one of those. Nobody seems to sell them and if they do, they are usually from a much never iMac G4.

If you think going to a forum and ask for help would be a good idea at this point, you are quite mistaken. I did spent some time looking into the problem and reading several related posts on various forums and what I usually found was: whenever someone came up with a problem like that rather than getting offered an image of a disk that would solve the problem he got told off followed by multiple posters telling in harsh words to not pirate software.

I am against software piracy even more than the next guy (I do make my living from creating software), but at least some common sense should be applied. Apple declared these operating systems obsolete, unsupported and doesn’t sell them anymore. At this point what I would expect is being able to download restoration disks for obsolete Macs in the support section. Unlike Windows, Mac OS and OS X are bound to Mac hardware and that’s where Apple makes its money.

What I am left with at this point with my Mac OS 9 installation is turning to torrents and hopefully find the disk I need there. Do I feel bad about? Not even a tiny bit, especially since I actually own a retail version of Mac OS 9.

This brings me to another issue. I would love to try OS X Panther, Cheetah or Jaguar on my iMac G4 just to see how they looked and felt. I do however consider paying upwards of $300 for those systems and especially for that purpose madness. Unlike OS X Tiger or Leopard, the older versions of OS X rarely show up in classifieds or on auctions. And the situation gets even worse when it comes to old software. Check eBay for very popular software like let’s say Office 2001. As I am writing this, eBay.co.uk has tons of books for Microsoft Office 2001, but the only software is an Office 2001 update CD. Finding software that is more rare than Office or games is an exercise in futility. I should know as I am trying for a couple of months now.

This is where abandonware comes in. While from a legal standpoint it’s a gray area at best, when one applies common sense to the issue it is the only viable approach available today.

I love abandonware and have been a big fan of sites offering old software and games to download. As a matter of fact, I was also professionally grateful for the service these sites provide whenever I needed to look at some of the software or games I did in the past. Even if I would find the original game somewhere in storage at the office I would still have to battle the stupid copy protection we shipped our games with. Considering I don’t have an optical drive in any of my notebooks for at least 5 years now, that would be a serious problem on its own.

The company I work at and that I am a majority owner of does not care about our old games or software. We don’t sell then, we don’t support them and many people in the team don’t even remember those products anymore. If there are sites that make those products available to fans, then we are glad about it. If there are gamers or users out there who can enjoy our old work, the better. Should we want to use one of those brands to release a sequel, we can just write those sites to take the old products down and from experience from another company I worked for I know they do it quite promptly. Everyone is happy.

Out of curiosity, over the past couple of years I asked a lot of friends in the gaming industry about their opinion on abandonware. To my surprise, most just didn’t give a damn about the subject. Some were fans of it like I am. Few didn’t like the idea, but couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it either. Very few were really glad those sites exists, because their company does not have the one or other game anymore. They never bothered to transfer their products to new storage medias and put them into their backups. These games would otherwise be lost forever.

With more and more companies taking their old games and developing remakes for mobile (iOS and Android), the situation in terms of abandonware might see a change in the future. Until this happens though, let’s just enjoy it.

Just google mac abandonware and you’ll find the major sites on the first result page.

If you have been using computers for a couple of decades or even longer, you are likely to re-discover software and games you used and played in the past. Chances are you payed for many of the ones you downloading today in your past. I know I do.

I slowly start to seriously regret junking my large game collection a decade ago when I moved from one country to another. I do believe games with their original disks and boxes will become proper collector items within the next decade. Maybe not as large as comics are today, but what comics were for the last generation, computer games are for the current one. On the other hand half of my games back then were already so old, the diskettes could not be read reliable anymore. I did keep the boxes in good condition though…

My favorite site for mac software is Macintosh Garden. When it comes to old games, I usually look at My Abandonware and play those oldies on my modern Macs using Boxer. It is basically a Mac port of DOSBox wrapped into a beautifully made user interface making setting those games up and running them incredibly simple.

Now, some very popular oldies cannot be found on abandonware sites anymore, because they again can be bought. You can find them on Steam occasionally, but there is one site you want to put into your bookmarks: gog.com. What those guys do is they license old games, remove copy protections making these games DRM free and modify them to run on recent computers. Then they sell them at bargain prices, usually only for a couple of bucks. Like Steam, they often have great special offers. They currently offer more than 600 games for PC, but their Mac games section is growing nicely, too.

Vintage Mac: A Time Before Computers

A_Time_Before_Computers

I stumbled across an interesting tidbit I find quite amusing when you consider how the jargon has changed over the last couple of decades:

  • An application was for employment
  • A program was a TV show
  • A hard drive was a long trip on the road
  • A cursor used profanity
  • A keyboard was a piano
  • A web was a spider’s home
  • A virus was the flu
  • A CD was a bank account
  • A mouse was a rodent
  • Memory was something you lost with age

Vintage Mac: PowerBook G4

PowerBook_G5_15_mineFor some reason, when thinking about good candidates for a vintage Mac I focused on desktops and forgot about notebooks. The PowerBooks G4 are actually quite interesting in that regard, especially the earlier ones made out of Titanium. Titanium, ‘nuff said. How cool is that? I started looking into titanium PowerBooks in the summer, but these machines are quite difficult to get these days. As it seems, titanium isn’t the best material to make notebooks out of after all. Finding a titanium PowerBook without major scratches, dents all over the place and especially those ugly paint scrapes is quite a challenge. One that I failed at miserably.

While looking for a titanium PowerBook G4 I came across an auction for an aluminum 15” PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz, mint condition, in perfect shape including the original box and all  that it originally came with. I wanted it, I really did. It just made a great collector’s item. Unfortunately the auction spinned out of control and ended at almost $1000. That’s just way too much for me as a hobby, not to mention you can get a new MacBook for that kind of money.

Participating in that auction did have some consequences: now I wanted a PowerBook G4 15” or 17”, preferably one of the last models from 2005 with 1.67GHz. I figured getting one in a non-mint condition, but cheap, would be quite a good idea (no, this is not the place to discuss my sanity…or rather lack thereof). I want the display to be in great condition, I want the body to be in good shape without dents, but I don’t mind a minor scratch here and there, especially on the bottom. I want the keyboard and its background lighting to be in good condition as well.

Other than that I don’t really care much for the rest like installation disks, manuals, original power supply or state of the battery. As long as I can get it cheap.

Two weeks ago I found one on Allegro, the polish equivalent of eBay. 15” PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz, 1GB RAM, 80GB HDD. It looked good on the photos, only some minor scratches. The battery reached its end of life a couple of years ago, but it had a new power supply. The optical drive was dead, but the keyboard was in great condition even though it had a very odd layout I have never seen before. The display was in perfect condition as well and the display hinges were in pretty good shape, too. I went for it and 5 days later it was mine for not even 100 bucks including shipping.

It came with OS X Tiger (10.4.11) installed, but no installation disks. After having played around a bit with a Mac mini G4 (1.42 GHz and 1GB RAM) with Tiger I figured the PowerBook G4 will be slightly faster, but nothing really noticeable. Boy was I wrong. That thing screams. It’s fast, responsive, boots in a portion of time the Mac mini G4 boots and the keyboard is superb.

I plan to get OS X Leopard installed on it and use for my “research” into how useful a PowerPC Mac is these days for the daily tasks an average user does. Now I am off to find a working optical drive, 2GB of RAM and grab my OS X Leopard disk for it.

Vintage Mac: My iMac G4

iMac_G4_motionAs you might know from my previous posts, I am looking for some vintage Macs. The iMac G4 was obviously on my list as was the PowerMac G4 Cube. The Cube is still eluding me, but an iMac G4 is quite easy to come by. Except when you look for a specific model like I do.

I assume it will take me quite a while to find a G4 Cube in excellent condition so I figured I grab an iMac G4 that is also capable of booting into Mac OS9, a task previously intended for the G4 Cube. Every iMac G4 can run Mac OS 9 in OS X’s Classic Environment. Basically Mac OS 9 gets loaded within OS X (up to and including OS X 10.4 “Tiger”) allowing you to run Mac OS 9 application within OS X, but some applications and especially games have problems with that approach. That’s why I wanted the real deal where the Mac boots Mac OS 9 rather than launching it within OS X. The first iMac G4 can do that, but I wanted one with a 17” display. Here things got a bit more tricky.

Apple introduced the iMac G4 in January 2002. Initially there were 2 models to choose from, both with 15” displays and the cheaper one with a 700MHz CPU while the more expensive one featured a 800MHz CPU and larger HDD. In July the same year Apple added a 17” iMac G4 to the lineup featuring a 800MHz CPU and a GeForce MX4 rather than the GeForce MX2 in the 15” models. This 17” iMac G4 (M8812LL) is capable to run OS X and also able to boot into MacOS 9.

However, in February 2003 Apple replaced the 17” iMac G4 / 800MHz with another 17” iMac G4 / 800MHz (M9105LL). On the hardware side it stayed pretty much the same, but this newer iMac G4/800 cannot boot into Mac OS 9 anymore. Looking for a used one more than a decade later makes it quite tiresome to find the right model when people usually announce their iMacs with CPU speed and display size only.

What Did I Get?

It took me a while to find “my” iMac G4 in a decent condition where the optical drive and the HDD work, the display arm is still firm, the display doesn’t have any scratches or bad pixels and the white of the body is still at least white-ish. I got mine dirt-cheap in a really decent condition. It came without anything except 2 installations disks (out of the 6 it originally came with) which were also really badly scratched and un-usuable in any of the drives I tried them with. Heck, it didn’t even come with a power cord. Thankfully the power cord is the same power cord that goes into the power supply of the old Mac mini so I used that one. Finding a power cord like this somewhere to buy is a lot more difficult that one might think, at least in Europe.

That’s what 80 Euros including shipping got me. Missing a keyboard and mouse is not a problem as any USB keyboard and mouse will do. Apple input devices from that era are usually very cheap, too – if you want to go for the original look.

AppleProKeyboard_mineI got the keyboard (Apple Pro Keyboard) and mouse (Apple Pro Mouse) for it on eBay as there are plenty to choose from. Just to make things a little harder, Apple decided to rename both the keyboard and the mouse some years later to Apple Keyboard and Apple Mouse loosing the “Pro” moniker. That being said, every USB keyboard or mouse will work if you don’t care about “original” condition. And unless you are anal about it, you really shouldn’t. While the keyboard is pretty nice to work with, the Apple Pro Mouse is just awful.

AppleProMouse_MightMouseYes, it’s an optical mouse and works quite well and accurate on all common surfaces, but the whole mouse is basically the mouse button. The lack of left and right mouse button is really unintuitive these days and what’s even worse is the is the absence of any scrolling input. Do yourself a favor and get its successor: Apple’s Might Mouse. While it might not be the best mouse around, it is still very usable from today’s point of view. That being said, don’t buy the wireless Might Mouse like I did. It is just too heavy for comfortable use. The wired model feels so much better and since the keyboard offers two USB ports, you can keep the amount of wires running across your desk at bay.

AppleProSpeakersI also managed to find Apple Pro Speakers on eBay. Some of the more expensive iMac G4s came with those speakers that are pretty darn good for their size. They aren’t really necessary as the iMac G4 has built-in speakers, but due to the size restrains in its body they are mediocre at best. Not to mention the Pro Speakers have quite an unique look. However, you pay for the look with cash as they aren’t cheap these days and they come with a proprietary mini plug rather than the standard headphone jack.

What Do I Need?

I need to get more RAM for this iMac G4. It currently has 512MB and that isn’t enough for OS X Tiger. Yes, Tiger runs quite OK on those 512MB, but an application here and there and a couple of tabs in the browser and it begins to crawl. Unlike other Macs, upgrading to the maximum amount of supported memory on the iMac G4 is tricky. It has two memory slots and that’s where the fun begins. One of these slots is a standard notebook 144-pin SO-DIMM and takes a PC133 memory module with up to 512MB RAM. This memory slot is considered by Apple “user accessible” and you only need to unscrew 4 screws at the bottom of the base to get to it.

The other slot is a standard desktop one: 168-pin DIMM, again PC133 memory up to 512MB RAM. This one however is not easily accessible as it’s located in the upper part of the body and that means taking the entire iMac G4 apart to get to it.

I really don’t feel like taking the whole thing apart just now, so I plan to get a 512MB SO-DIMM and upgrade the memory to 768MB and see it that’s enough. I know Tiger runs really nicely on a PowerBook G4 (yes, I got myself one, but that’s a story for another post) with 1GB RAM, so I hope that 768MB RAM will be close to that experience.

What Do I Do With It?

Well, first I am going to reinstall OS X and then get Mac OS 9 on it. When I get my hands on OS X version before Tiger I plan to install those too to see how OS X evolved over time.  Considering the availability and prices this might take a while though.

I expect to spend most of my time on this iMac G4 with Mac OS 9, old games and apps. I was very eager to see how useful a PowerPC Mac can still be these days (or not), but I will use the PowerBook G4 for that purpose.

Without tricks the last OS X that can be installed on this iMac G4 is OS X Tiger (10.4.11). With tricks you can install OS X Leopard (10.5.8) on it, but due to the slow CPU and the amount of RAM it’s not really a good idea. From my experience so far and from what I have been reading you want at least 1.5GB RAM for Leopard. You want 1GB RAM for Tiger and that’s the maximum these older iMacs G4 can be upgraded to (newer iMac G4 models are capable of being upgraded to 2GB RAM).

So I will leave PowerPC viability in 2013/2014 to the PowerBook G4 while focusing on the past and especially Mac OS 9 on this iMac G4. Expect some posts in a month or so on that subject – possibly even earlier since I just won an auction for a copy of Mac OS 9 Retail earlier today 🙂

Vintage Mac Selection

“Form over function” is the leading motto when it comes to my search for a vintage Mac and after spending a day on some “research“ I arrived at the following choices: iMac G4 or G4 Cube.
I will continue to look for more candidates over the next couple of days simply because I know it will take a bit to find either candidate in good condition on the market.

Power_mac_g4_cubeG4 Cube – I like the look of the G4 Cube. In my opinion it’s beyond nice looking – it doesn’t necessary look like a computer at first sight. It’s one of those machines you can put everywhere and it will look nice. My idea is to have it on a glass table we have in the living room connected to an old Apple Cinema Display. Should look really nice with my Harman/Kardon Sound Sticks that are already on that table connected to an Airport Express. Alternatively I would consider to hook it up to the TV in the living room as it could just stand nearby and look pretty.

Introduced in 2000 it isn’t a piece of hardware that I would expect to be useful these days, but it does have the ability to boot Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X with Tiger (10.4) being the most recent version intended to be installed on it. Apparently Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) can be installed using LeopardAssist.

This one would give me a great opportunity to look into the Mac past beyond Mac OS X. Unfortunately I am not holding my breath to find a G4 Cube in good condition here in Poland anytime soon, but this won’t stop me from being on the lookout.

iMac_G4_motioniMac G4 – The second candidate on my list is the iMac G4. Isn’t it gorgeous and cute? Introduced in 2002 it isn’t much younger than the G4 Cube, except is has been kept in production for some years and has seen several models. I would aim at one of the later 17” models, the ones introduced late 2003. The reasons being that unlike the 15” models which offer 1024×768 resolution, the display on the 17” has 1440×900 and I believe this will be very nice for browsing the web, reading news etc. The second reason is that the late models from that time offer USB 2.0 as opposed to USB 1.1 and due to higher CPU speed allow to install Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) without having to fool around with LeopardAssist.

I wouldn’t mind an iMac G4 20” with 1680×1050 resolution, but they seem very rare, at least here. Preferably the iMac G4 will already have wireless and Bluetooth installed. It was an optional extra which I would really like to have to pair a wireless keyboard and mouse and use WiFi rather than Ethernet.

As opposed to the G4 Cube, these iMacs seem a lot easier to get, just a matter to find one in good condition. Beside the obvious condition of the display, the display arm’s condition is of key importance as well. With years they seem to slouch and become unable to keep the display in position. Positioning the display seems like half the fun on this thing 😛

Having a Mac that runs Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard, an operating system that dates back to 2007, isn’t maybe all that vintage (same year Windows Vista has been released), but on the other hand I believe it’s a good and cheap first step into the Macintosh past. The way I see it the first step should be hardware and software that can still be useful today as that way one gets the opportunity to actually work with the computer properly.

In case of the G4 Cube it gets a lot more vintage with Mac OS 9. That’s an operating system dating back to 1999 – the same year Windows 98 SE has been released.

Then there is always Mac OS X Tiger that would take me back to 2005, that’s around the time Windows Vista was promised to be released, but came 2 years later. That’s smack in the middle of the reign of Windows XP. I am looking forward to find one of those Macs in good shape and have a look at Mac’s old operating systems. It will be very interesting to see how they compare to their respective Windows versions which I still remember all too well.

While looking out for further candidates I will also keep an eye for interesting choices for a cheap way into the Mac world. That’s for friends of mine who are perplexed by my rather recent and sudden 180° turn from PC to Mac and are wondering what would be the least expensive way for them to have a useful Mac. Since I am already scratching on the Mac OS X Leopard era, that shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Vintage Computer Crave

Vintage ComputerI recently started to crave for an old Macintosh and that got me thinking. Why on earth would someone want an obsolete, completely outdated computer and what could it be used for? If it would be an old PC, let’s say like a 486 or a Pentium II, I see absolutely no reason to get one. That led me to the question ‘why not?’

I came to realize that I wouldn’t want an old PC for 3 reasons:

Reason #1: I have been there, I used them on a daily basis and I don’t need a refresh of that horrid time. I didn’t start with a ZX Spectrum or C64 like my friends did, I started right away with the first IBM PC and stuck to PCs ever since – until recently that is.

Reason #2: I would not know what to do with it. I would switch it on and then what? There is just nothing that comes to my mind I could do with it. I couldn’t come up with something interesting even if my life depended on it.

Reason #3: I would not know where to put it. It’s not that I lack space for another computer or two, but the honest truth is that putting a vintage PC somewhere in the den would just look ridiculous and out of place since PCs were ugly as hell. They were working horses and nobody gave a damn about how they looked.

An old Mac on the other hand I would have no problem with:

Reason #1: I haven’t been there. Being a recent switcher I missed, apart from a short stint in the early 90ties, the whole Mac history.

Reason #2: I still don’t know what to do, but since I missed the Mac history, I would like to discover it now for myself. Educational purposes so to speak.

Reason #3: Apple did make some nice looking Macs in the past. That pretty much excludes all the Macintosh II, Performa and Quadra series, because they would look as ridiculous in my living room as an old PC would, but I can imagine finding a spot for one of the old all-in-one Macs. I’ve seen an iMac G4 recently (I think it is now obvious what started my vintage Mac craving) and I wouldn’t have a problem to put it right there in the middle of the room. I find it that gorgeous.

There it is. My quest to find a vintage Mac will be all ‘form over function’ – I can already see that. Time to browse the net to see what other nice looking Macs Apple did in the past and if they still can be somehow useful today. Don’t get me wrong, I would love a 68k Mac like the original one or the Macintosh Plus, the SE/30 or even that newer classic one with the color screen, but I believe they are too old for someone as inexperienced in Mac history as me. I think the best approach for me would be to go back from today and find something vintage, but not entirely obsolete…