Mac Daniel's Advice

The Flea Market Mac

Manuel Mejia Jr - 2001.11.08

After a few month's break, I have returned to Low End Mac with a new outlook and another Mac. When I allegedly "bit the bullet," I decided that I needed to get a replacement Mac so that I could retire my ailing Mac IIcx, Mac LC, and PowerBook 145B. I had looked into buying a new indigo iMac, but the price proved too much for my wallet.

In order to find a replacement Mac, I had to return to LEM's roots and buy something used or refurbished. One day, I wandered through my local flea market. At that market, I encountered a vendor known as Jejenesu Computer and Video. The vendor sells a variety of refurbished computers and peripherals. Among the items for sale were a set of 100 MHz PPC PowerBook Duo 2300s with Duo Dock, keyboard, mouse, and 13" Apple monitor. As part of the package, a 4x CD-ROM, leather case, external power supply, NiMH battery, and assortment of OS and application software was included. The total cost of acquisition: $400.

I struck a deal with the vendor, and he went ahead and finished some incomplete refurbishment on the PowerBook keyboard before turning the machine over to me. The PowerBook had apparently been junked when its LCD screen was damaged beyond repair. Jejenesu fixed the problem by taking a PowerBook Duo 270c LCD screen off a dead machine and putting it in place of the PB 2300 Duo's screen - case and all. I have a Duo whose top half is PB 270 and the bottom half is PB 2300. This was a very clever repair.

On the OS CD-ROM, I had a choice of System 7.5.5, Mac OS 7.6.1, or Mac OS 8. I decided to install System 7.6.1. I also installed WordPerfect 3 for Macintosh, Graphics Converter, Excel 3.0, and UltraPaint 1.05 as my main software applications. I also bought a few old 1995-96 vintage Mac Addict and Mac Format CD-ROMS for other useful software accessories.

Today I have a relatively new Mac computer that cost me less than $500. It operates as both a desktop and a laptop. It also arrived on time - the 12" monitor connected to my LC burned out just as I was hooking up the PB 2400 Duo at home the very day I picked it up.

In terms of the vendor that I selected, buying a used Mac from a flea market is not for everyone. To be a trusted vendor, the proprietor needs to be very good at refurbishing computers and peripherals. The owner of Jejenesu is a Mac technician. His Mac selection included a number of former LC 575 all-in-one type Macs. Like the Mac Plus and Color Classic, these computers have the CRT and the logic board in one case. They are often thrown out when their CRTs burn out. Jejenesu takes the logic boards and other parts, and then put them into either another Mac case or (gasp !) a surplus IBM PC tower. Jejenesu then plasters the tower with Mac stickers as well as remove all of the Pentium insignias. Seeing these towers in action convinced me that Jejenesu knew what it was doing. Jejenesu also sells software and repairs IBM, Atari, Commodore, and even TRS computers. Talk about a museum dedicated to the computer!

The Duo may not be an indigo iMac, but it is a Power Mac that runs at a clock speed that is measured in 3 digits rather than 2.

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