January 24, 2009

The Macintosh

Today the Macintosh computer is 25 years old. The Macintosh 128K was released on January 24, 1984. This machine had no hard drive and only 128 kilobytes of RAM (currently available computers typically have 2 gigabytes of RAM, or roughly 16,000 times as much as the original Macintosh 128K). It was the first computer available to consumers that had a mouse and a graphical user interface. While much has changed in the Mac's user interface of the past 25 years, most of the original concepts (mouse pointer, icons, windows, menus, buttons) are still used.

I actually owned a Macintosh 128K, though not when it was released in 1984, but rather when I found one in a pawn shop in rural Virginia in 1999. I had a day off my job at ASP when I was exploring the area. I browsed around this pawn shop when I was shocked to find four "classic" style (the original all-in-one design) Macintosh computers. I had to have them. Even if they didn't work, I always wanted to have a fish tank. The price tags said $20 each. I examined the machines and found that two of them had been completely gutted and had no hope of ever working, but the cases were still intact. The other two seemed to have all the parts, but they were so old the chances of them working were pretty slim. I explained to the shop worker that they probably didn't work, but I would still pay $20 for all four of them. We had a deal.

The two that didn't work were a Macintosh SE and a Macintosh SE/30. I was delighted to learn the two that had all the parts were a Macintosh 128K (the first ever Macintosh) and a Macintosh 512K (the second ever Macintosh). Unfortunately, the 128K didn't work. However, the 512K did work. These machines don't run without a system floppy disk, which didn't come with the pawn shop computers and which I clearly didn't have. So I found one for sale on the internet for a few bucks and once it arrived I had a working 1984 era machine.

Happy 25th birthday Macintosh

Now, this machine isn't terribly useful for anything other than nostalgia, but it still works to this day. It still surprises me how fast these old machines boot up. Here's a video where the machine can go from off to fully booted in 16 seconds.

I have owned dozens of computers over the years, all but two (I think) have been Macs:

Performa 620019951995recycled
PowerBook 5300 CS19951996in my closet
iMac19981998sold to relatives
Macintosh 128K19841999recycled
Macintosh 512K19841999in my office
Macintosh SE19871999recycled
Macintosh SE/3019891999recycled
9 x Macintosh IIcx198919999 x recycled
Macintosh IIci19891999in my storage room
PowerBook G3 (work)20002000returned to work
iBook SE (Melissa)20002001gave to relatives
PowerMac G420002001in my office
PowerBook G4 (work)20022003returned to work
PowerBook 12" (Melissa)20032003in my office
PowerMac G520042004gave to parents
Mac mini20052005gave to in-laws
MacBook Pro (work)20062006returned to work
MacBook (Melissa)20072007Melissa's primary computer, in Melissa's office
MacBook Pro (work)20072007my primary laptop, in my office
Mac Pro20082008my primary desktop, in my office
PowerBook Duo 25019932008in my office


Melissa said...

gin and tonic please. double the gin. with a slice of lime.

Anonymous said...

very impressive!!!!!! What a list, and why does that surprise me that you would have among them a 25th anniversary special!!!!!!!!!! COOL!!!!! You might need to add an addition , just to house current and future COMPUTERS??? ya think??? hugs, nan

Unknown said...

I do believe I recognize a few of those! In fact, one of them may be in my house right now! I may be typing this message from it!

Thanks Robby, for all your "hand-me-downs"...
Don't know where we'd be without you!


Aimee said...

I think I laughed more at this post than the one of you in the short shorts and ski mask.

Ragfield said...

Melissa, Aimee, quit egging each other on. This is far from the nerdiest post I've written.