Why We Collect

People ask me from time to time why I collect old Macs, and devote so much time and space in my home to such an endeavor. Partly it’s fun, a reminder of my own computing past – I am a geek, after all – but mainly it’s to preserve a shared past in a form to study and access in the present. Computer collectors don’t do this for resale profit – it costs money to maintain the collection and acquire new items – but for the spirit of the endeavor.

I’ve been lucky that, combined with my Mac consulting business, the collection has also become useful as a way to transfer and convert old Mac files for people. It helps defray some costs and lets old Macs perform a useful need long after they’ve been “put out to pasture.”

Jason Scott has written a nice post on his blog ASCII about this practice and philosophy of old computer preservation, describing his side of the story of how he came to donate two Lisa computers to my collection recently:

That Time I Gave Computers Away

When I take stuff in, it’s not with the intention to hoard it. It’s to provide the best home for the equipment/data/artifacts, save them from the dumpster, broker a future for them that’s the most reasonable. That might mean continuing to store it, putting it online, or finding it a better place than what I am doing with it. […]

Recently, I attended an open house at a Macintosh Museum. This was interesting on two fronts: first, that there’s actually a Macintosh Museum, and second, that such a place would have a day you could just come and visit. It was just a few towns over from my own.

Looking around, I saw he didn’t have any Apple Lisas…

Jason’s donation was very generous. I hope someday to be able to make a similar contribution to the computing world, and occasionally give away various bits and pieces of my collection when I have spares or things others can use more than myself. Right now what I can share with the world is information about vintage Macs, provide old Mac file transfer and conversion services, and share the experience of working with these old machines.

I am currently attempting to get at least one of the Lisa’s fully functional. For those who’d like to virtually play with a Lisa, check out LisaEm, a Lisa Emulator that Ray Arachellian has put together for Macs and PCs. It’s an excellent tool, very well done, and helps people appreciate an even older, rarer computer than the Macintosh.

Many others have been smitten by the collecting bug too: Mac Collections Around the World

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