My Turn

Why I Love Quads

Greta Heinse - Sept. 28, 2000

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

We thought it was dead. It was a Quadra 800, and my boyfriend had been carrying it home to hold for a friend. The story (and he's sticking to it) is that he had it over his shoulder as he crossed Third Ave. near St. Marks Place when a pothole and a jostling crowd sent the Quad into the air.

This particular Mac had been designed by Apple to do any number of things, but flying wasn't one of them. Neither was landing. It wasn't a pretty sight. The bezels had flown off when the Mac met the immoveable object of the curb. Two of the thumbscrews had separated from the machine and the rear panel was completely off. The top housing was still on - sort of - and wobbled with the sound of thunder from a bad radio play. Since I'm the Quad Squad around my house, I got it dumped in my lap, and on my desk were various pieces retrieved from the scene of the crime.

My first inclination was to salvage what I could: hard drive, RAM, VRAM, CD-ROM, cables, whatever. After taking the housing off, I inspected the guts of the Quad. It had suffered a serious trauma, and, while I doubted the CD-ROM would ever play Hank Williams or install Doom again, its internal structure must have been built to the specifications of the 101st Airborne Division. The motherboard was tight in its place. The hard drive was secure. There was no play in the floppy, and all the cables and RAM chips were still deep in their sockets.

On a whim - leaving the housing off - I connected a monitor and keyboard, then plugged it in.

Sounds resonate. For some, it's the "beep ... ka-chugger, ka-chugger" of the SE series. Others prefer the recent Power Mac chord. Some the pathetic "clink" of the x100 series. Me, I'm a sucker for that rich, reassuring sound of the 800 series Quadra. It was like a letter from home or a note in a bottle washed up on a beach.

At that moment I knew that I would save that Mac.

Now I have worked on a lot of Quads, including building a 700 into a IIci case and a IIcx case (get a drill with a reamer attachment and tin snips), and I've had a Quad 650, but my most favorite Mac in the whole universe is the 840av.

For Mac freaks, the 800 series has two drawbacks. The first is that it never needs any serious attention. What fun is that? The second is the dreaded case that has earned it a "road apple" designation. Upgrading can be a drawn-out affair of dismantling and remantling the tedious case. At one point, I was thinking of chucking the housing and chassis and creating a whole new case for an 840av.

Not anymore.

After totally dismantling the 800 down to the chassis, including the brace and the NuBus retainer, the apparent damage to the CR-ROM was only a bent metal flashing. There are nicks in the chassis and scrapes on the housing, and the insertion pins on the bezels were bent. But they worked, after a little attention.

The CD bezel is still loose, but the CD works. Right now, Hank Williams is wailing, "hey hey, good lookin', whatcha got cookin'? How's about cookin' something up with me?"

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

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