My First Mac

My StarMax FrankenMac

Louis van Lammeren - 2001.08.16

My son already had a Mac for a while, but I was still hanging on to my Atari ST: after all, it was only a hobby. Then, in the fall of '97, he told me that there were Mac clones going cheap because Apple was yanking the license. I ended up with a Motorola StarMax 3000 tower, with a 240 MHz 603e processor for less than half the price of a comparable Mac. It came with a 15" SVGA monitor, a 2-button Macally mouse, Mac OS 7.6 installed, Mac OS 8.0 bundled, a SCSI CD-ROM, a floppy, a Zip drive, 10Base-T ethernet, five PCI slots, and a five year warranty. Along with the SCSI port, it has the regular Apple ADB, modem, and printer ports. It also has ports for a PS/2 keyboard and mouse, which I must try someday.

It has now turned into a bit of a FrankenMac with a second monitor on an ATI 128 card, a 300 MHz G3 upgrade card, an ATA 66 MHz hard drive host card - about 40 GB storage on three hard drives and room for two more, a Umax SCSI scanner, an Epson Photo Stylus (6 colour) printer, a Yamaha 8824 CD-RW, a woofer, and speakers that look like little iMacs. I've got an old 14.4 modem plugged in just for the odd web site where you can only order by phone.

The only thing that ever quit was the Zip drive, which developed the dreaded click of death. I'm after Iomega for a replacement. The StarMac has been the 8.1, 8.5, 8.5.1, 8.6, 9.0, 9.0.4 route, and is now running OS 9.1 - very stable.

I burn CDs for nieces and nephews from Napster downloads, fiddle with family pictures in Photoshop, do some email, and surf a bit. I did my wife's reunion pictures on the Epson. I've even been able to help out on a StarMax list. When I retire, I'm going to set up a family history web site, a kind of living family tree, with "cousins by the dozens."

This computer has been more fun than I would ever have thought! I learned to take it apart to install all the stuff, and I'm quite proud of it and of myself. One of these days somebody will write the kernels to let me boot OS X, and then it will be a long time indeed before there is a second Mac!

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