Best Coverage of the Macintosh Turning 30

So it was quite a whirlwind of activity last week as the Macintosh turned 30. After browsing all the coverage and commemorative efforts dedicated to the occasion, here are a few standout things which I think are worth remembering and revisiting: Apple-Mac-at-30

Apple: Thirty Years of Mac
Apple takes a moment to look back on three decades of their longest running product line. Creating a special mini website with commemorative video, a historical Macintosh timeline, and interactive polling and feedback, the Mothership finally reflects.

Yes indeed, the Post Jobs era has now officially begun.

CNET: The Macintosh Turns 30: Going the Distance
Dan Farber does a fabulous job documenting the birth of the Macs, its initial challenges, and the long road Apple and Steve Jobs’ prodigal son have taken from 1984 to the present. Part of CNET’s Mac at 30 coverage, it’s extensively detailed and well worth a read.

iFixit: Macintosh 128k Teardown
iFixit, Cult of Mac and (yours truly) the Vintage Mac Museum join forces to create an insanely great teardown of the original Macintosh. See how it was all put together back in the day! iFixit notes:

Ye olde CRTs were a mixed bag for repair purposes—easier to access than today’s tight-fitting flat panel displays, but boy were they dangerous if mishandled… Between the CRT and the capacitors, disconnecting this power supply sort of feels like disarming a bomb.

AppleInsider: Apple’s Macintosh has forced the world to change for 30 years
A long and thoughful essay by Daniel Eran Dilger on how the Mac has evolved over time, continuing to innovate and impact computing three decades after its creation. Somehow the Mac is always on the Verge of Doom and going in the wrong direction, yet Apple is now stronger than ever!

Computer History Museum: The Very First ‘Stevenote’
The first public exhibition of the Macintosh took place on January 30, 1984 at a meeting of the fledgling Boston Computer Society. The BCS videotaped the event, and former president Jonathan Rotenberg tells the tale of the remarkable demonstration – the world’s first ever Stevenote!

Shrine of Apple: Celebrate the Mac
And last but not least, Jonathan Zufi (author of Iconic) turns his photographic eye to the Macintosh, and produces another beautiful gallery. Feast your eyes on photos like these of Macinti across the ages…
Zufi 128k and iMac

Happy 30th Birthday Macintosh!

Macintosh 128k

Today is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Apple Macintosh. As we all know, on January 24, 1984, Apple computer introduced Macintosh. And we saw why 1984 wouldn’t be like 1984.

Happy 30th Birthday Macintosh!

As you might imagine, it’s been getting a bit of press. To help with the coverage, it’s also been a busy past week behind the scenes at the Vintage Mac Museum.

Last weekend a photographer from Reuters stopped over the house to take some photos of the original Mac. We set one up and played around with MacPaint and MacWrite for a while, looked at the packaging and accessories, etc.. A few of these photos along with comments were posted to the Reuters newswire for use in support of the anniversary.

Happy 30th Birthday MacThese started appearing yesterday internationally!

• The Baltimore Sun (USA)
• Business Today (USA)
• The Calgary Sun (Canada)
• Malay Mail Online (Malaysia)
• GMA News Online (The Phillipines)
• Kaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)
• The Peninsula Times (Qatar)

In addition to that, the VMM, iFixit and Cult of Mac teamed up to do a teardown of the original 128k Mac as a special anniversary repair guide. The Museum supplied the (non-working) sacrificial Mac for dissection. They did a great job, it’s well worth a read – very entertaining.

Here’s to another 30 years of Macintosh – and hoping it’s insanely great!

Apple’s 1985 Declaration of Interdependence

Sometimes when you open your email, you receive unexpected news. And sometimes that news itself is of an unexpected find. Recently I got a note from a visitor to the Vintage Mac Museum describing a rather unique piece of Apple memorabilia:
Apple Declaration of Interdependence

I found this for my husband’s Christmas gift at a second hand store. It’s a poster titled The Declaration of Interdependence from 1985, and is in what I think is the original aluminum frame. It’s an awesome piece of Apple history […] I don’t know how many were made.

I wish second hand stores in my area had items like this!

I haven’t seen this poster before. I suspect it was a short lived creation. December 1985 was only a few months after Steve Jobs left the company, the Mac wasn’t selling well, and morale needed a boost. You don’t want to piss off your developers when growing a new platform, and Jobs was famous for his temper and demands. This tongue-in-cheek parody of the US Declaration of Independence shows both Apple’s cockiness and acknowledgement of reality in developing their products.

There isn’t much information online about the poster. The New York Times mentioned it briefly in a 1997 article, and the Computer History Museum has a copy in its archives. The full text reads:

In Cupertino, December 1985

When, in the Course of Product Development, a Computer Manufacturer recognizes the bonds (and stocks) which tie it to its Third-Party Developers, it becomes necessary and desirable to Declare our Interdependence.

Therefore We, the People of Apple Software Product Management, do hereby acknowledge our mutual commitments as follows: to call upon Divine Providence to help us find the worst Bugs before Shipping; to approach Slipping Schedules with Head held high and Feet planted firmly in Quicksand; to take up Arms against the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Reviewers; to invoke the Spirit of Alexander Graham Bell in overcoming the Plague of Asynchronous Communications (aka “telephone tag”); to understand and accept Each Other’s occasional Bozosity; to fill our Ledgers with Black Ink, satisfying the Wants of the Venture Capitalists and the Desire for Profit Sharing; and to stand as One against the Blue Meanies and other Forces of Tyranny.

Now therefore we, the Apple Software Product Management Group, in partnership with you, the Apple Third-Party Development community – in order to Form a more perfect Industry, Establish high-value Products for our Customers, Create outrageous Prosperity, Promote Harmony and Understanding, and Secure the Blessings of Success for You and all of your Products – do hereby ordain, establish, and commit to this Declaration of Our Interdependence.

Scribed by out hands on this parchment (and backed up on disk, just in case).

Pithy and Insightful! I don’t recognize most of the signatures, but the first one is Guy Kawasaki. He was an official Apple “evangelist” at that time, helping to rally customers and developers to the cause. I definitely suspect this was one of his projects. Certainly a fun thing to hang on your cubicle wall!

If any readers know more about the history of this item, please leave details in the comments.

Photo Credit: Katie Graham

The 128k Mac Hidden in Plain Sight

128k Macintosh

Things usually don’t happen this way.

Old computers need to be turned on every so often, to make sure they still work and keep the innards from decaying beyond repair. A couple months ago I decided to dust off and go through this exercise with some of my old Macs. Most worked fine, but a 512k and Mac Plus (two of the oldest models in the collection) showed no life on screen after the power-on chime. That usually means a failed component on the analog board.

I gathered up a few spare parts and began the repair process, beginning with the 512k. The rear case on this one just said “Macintosh” rather than “Macintosh 512k”. But this was not unusual for this era, many 128k models were upgraded to Fat Macs back in the day. I removed the Torx T15 screws and popped the enclosure open with my case cracker.

I knew the logic board was OK, so I decided to just remove it and install in another spare classic Mac which had a working analog board. But after disconnecting the cables and extacting the motherboard, I noticed it wasn’t what I expected. Rather than being a 512k logic board, this was actually an original 128k motherboard. The rear case wasn’t a mistake. But it had an 800k floppy drive installed internally, so that threw me off. I must have inherited this model before I knew how to verify the difference, then never subsequently checked.

Wow – a 128k Mac, sitting on my shelf for over 10 years. And all these years I thought it was a 512k. Things usually don’t happen this way.

I installed the motherboard in the new chassis, put the rear case back on, and popped in a System 1.0 floppy disk. Chime, whirr, chocka chocka, and there it was – 1984 in all its glory. Sitting in plain site the whole time!


There are some odd things about this unit. A small daughterboard is soldered next to the Motorola 68000 CPU – I have no idea what this is for. Also I didn’t realize that 800k floppy drives worked with pre-Mac Plus motherboards, at least for 400k disks. That’s good to know.

A very serendipitous find. I really had no idea this wasn’t a stock 512k. Wonder what else I have in my own collection that I don’t know about!

Most Valuable Apple Computer: The Torch is Passed

Apple 1 System

For years the most valuable Apple collectible has been the original Apple 1. Only 200 of these groundbreaking computers were produced, and it’s estimated that less than 50 remain worldwide. Auction prices for working systems have been in the six figure range for the past few years, with one hitting $671,000 in Spring 2013.

Now, the most valuable torch is passed. At a Sotheby’s auction in London this past weekend, a one-of-a-kind Product (RED) Mac Pro was auctioned off to benefit The Global Fund charity for an astounding $977,000! The “trashcan Mac” has yet to even go on sale, but one lucky (and wealthy) buyer can try their’s out immediately – and in high style.

Product (RED) Mac Pro

The Global Fund fights against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Certainly a worthy cause, and the highest price ever fetched by a personal computer. The bragging rights for this rare collectible are considerable!

The Gemini iBook – a Mac OS 9 Touchscreen Tablet Mac

Gemini iBook

A new addition arrived at the Vintage Mac Museum this week, and it’s a part of the Apple universe I never even knew existed before. Behold the Gemini iBook – a clamshell iBook G3 modified to be a touchscreen based Macintosh tablet!

Touchscreen computers using a tablet form factor have been around for a long time. Besides those ubiquitous UPS and FedEx signature devices, and PDAs like the Palm and the Newton, touchscreens have long worked well for assistive technology devices used by the disabled. Laptop monitors have been fitted with touchsceens for this purpose, but better still is a laptop that is converted into a one-piece tablet. A decade before the iPad, a clamshell iBook G3 was married with a touchscreen to create this fully functional tablet Macintosh. The Axiotron ModBook didn’t appear on the stage until 2007.

The (now defunct) company Assistive Technology produced these systems back in 2001. The screen and keyboard of the iBook were replaced with an embedded touch sensitive display panel. A small peripheral interface board along the top edge of the computer sports a USB port (moved from the side panel), a mini-joystick port, a mini TRS input switch port, sound out and sound in headphone ports. The iBook retains the ethernet port, modem, and CD-ROM drive. A popup keyboard (a la iOS) is available to type directly on screen, or you can use an external USB mouse or keyboard. Speech recognition and synthesis software was originally installed, but this had been removed before I obtained the system.

Gemini iBook Top Panel

I stumbled across this puppy during a recent visit to Unicom, a well-stocked vintage Mac service and sales shop in Rhode Island. I’ve generally disliked the clamshell form factor and those garish colors – graphite excepted – but this modified unit in bondi blue actually looks pretty cool. This is a useful form factor to work with, quite small and compact (for the era). With more expansion ports than any iOS device and the full Mac OS running the show, it’s actually a very capable computer.

My unit definitely shows some wear and tear – the handle has a few cracks, the display has some scratches, and the Gemini decal on the front is starting to bubble. But it still runs well on the original 3GB (!) hard drive and 160MB of RAM. I updated the installed Mac OS 9.0.4 to version 9.2.2, then loaded up Microsoft Office 98 and the latest version of the Classilla web browser. With more RAM the system could be configured to run Mac OS X, but I’m happy running the classic OS. The iBook Clamshell website has a video of the system running OS X along with pictures of the interior.

This may be one of the only Mac OS 9 based tablets in the world!

What a cool little system. Originally costing nearly $7500, it was a bargain in the clearance bin at $100. Now I just need something a little lighter – hmmm, how can I add a USB port to my iPad?