As an active collector I suffer from the ailment which eventually affects most people who have this hobby: I am running out of space. Two bedrooms, half my living room (home office) and half the attic are taken up by Mac equipment, spare parts, memorabilia, etc.. I don’t want to move, but the collecting urge still burns hot, so I’ve started to downsize my Macs – literally! Welcome to the growing Miniature Mac Museum.
iMac Alarm Clocks
I was surprised to learn that many miniature Macs of different types and sizes exist. Some of the most popular seem to be iMac Alarm Clocks. Starting back in 1998, the iconic fruit-colored computers started the Mac’s resurgence under Steve Jobs. Apparently they also made good bedside accessories. Several vendors brought out combinations of alarm clocks, radios, calculators and probably a pencil sharpener or two for good measure. Quality varied and useability was mixed, but they are cute as can be. Safe to say these puppies were not sold as accessories in any actual Apple Stores.
Among the most accurate replicas were the Timex iMac alarm clocks made in 1999, which really do mirror the shape and colors of the second generation iMac DV slot loading models quite well. So well in fact that Apple forced Timex to stop production and had existing products pulled off the shelves (it must have been a massive midnight drugstore raid). Few units were sold, and as a consequence this little iClock has become one of the more rare Apple collectibles. Of course I now need to obtain all colors and styles of iMac alarm clocks available.
Strangely, flat panel iMacs never seem to have caught on among the underground replica alarm clock industry.
Doll House Computers
Another popular category of mini Macs are doll house computers. Back in 1996 the American Girl doll company brought out this miniature replica Macintosh Performa, available complete with computer desk and chair. The mouse and keyboard are clickable, and after inserting a battery you can cycle through various different screens. The details are pretty accurate on this model, down to the colored Apple logos, ventilation lines and included miniature mouse pad. American Girl dolls were popular for years, and these mini Performas are regularly available on eBay. Dolls not included.
Today 1/12 scale seems to be the format of choice for doll house replicas, at least those I found on eBay. Here’s another set of dollhouse computers, a tiny little aluminum iMac and a Retina MacBook Pro. These are simple flat plastic parts with decals, not nearly as detailed as the mini iMacs or Performa, but still quite cute in their own way. The Mavericks desktop graphics are accurate, and I love the fact that the product boxes were included. The larger box reads IMAX on the top instead of iMac (which is actually just a different company’s trademark infraction).
Jonathan Zufi’s great book Iconic serves as a fitting base for these rather iconic models.
Tiny Working Replicas
Miniature Macs (or other Apple products) can also be actual tiny working computers. What I call my nanoMac is a 3D printed classic Mac from RetroConnector containing a dock and USB charging cable for the 6th generation (square) iPod nano. Slide in an iPod and pull up the clock app for a quick check of the time, or add a few photos of old Mac desktops for a realistic vintage look. This little replica has fooled several visitors to the Mac Museum while sitting on the computer speaker next to my iMac.
And last but not least, the PiXL is a working Lisa emulator. Co-created by Charles Mangin (of RetroConnector) and Adam Sommerfield as a way to keep the Macintosh XL (aka Lisa 2) computer alive for younger generations, this tiny gem contains a Raspberry Pi computer inside another 3D printed case (Lisa 1 or Lisa 2/Mac XL versions avaialble). After booting into Raspbian Linux the user can run either the Mini vMac or LisaEM emulators and experience early 1980s computing in all its glory. Even better, this miniature Lisa has more USB ports than most modern Macs!
My Steve Jobs bobblehead looks out over it all, sighing in shame at what his enterprise has become…