A Boy and His Macs

My first Apple was not a Macintosh. It was an Apple IIe with a green screen and an external floppy. It worked; it wasn’t glamorous. I just used it. I did not upgrade or tinker.

Macintosh Plus

Then, in 1988, my life began at 18. I bought a Mac Plus for college with an external 20 MB hard drive. My first Mac. This is where it all started. Within two years I upgraded to 2 MB (from 1 MB) of RAM for $170. As I worked to understand the Mac and my Plus, I became known as the MacGuru. I could troubleshoot anything. The challenge was thrilling and easy.

From 1988 to 1992, I knew nothing other than my Mac Plus. Then tragedy! My monitor quit. The repair was prohibitively costly. I had to “bury” my first child. I was so torn by the loss, I did not see Macs until February 1993.

Trying to move on, I ventured into a Mac store and was born again. This time with color, speed, size, and software! It was an unearthly experience. Nothing prepared me for future I was about to have. About that time Power Macintosh entered the scene with the 61007100, and 8100. These were so fast and strange, I could not comprehend them. I went instead with what I knew and could afford, another 680×0 machine.

Performa 575All 680×0 Macs were on fire sale, and I could not resist the familiarity of a 680×0 – and a color one at that. I adopted a new Mac, the Performa 575. The speed was breathtaking, the color dazzling, the feel sexy, the familiarity greased comfort. I completely forgot and let go of my Mac Plus in spirit. More software than I could swallow, more fun that I could imagine, I spent $2,000 and felt like I bought the world!

I joined user groups and fell into the upgrade trap! 5 MB of RAM was not enough. A 250 MB hard drive was too small. A 2x CD-ROM was too slow. Somehow the processor was still blazing fast, but missing something. After four years of blissful use, my 575 sported 36 MB RAM, an 8x internal CD-ROM, a 2 GB hard drive, a full 33 MHz 68040, a 56k modem, and a 100 MB Zip drive! I could have died if I lost this Mac, my second child.

Then in 1998 something terrible happened. Something wonderful at the same time. I wanted more. But to do more and run the games and applications I wanted, I needed this thing called a PowerPC. If I was a caterpillar before, I was about to molt and emerge new, more colorful, more fantastic than before and would be able to fly to place I could not crawl to before! The sky opened up with possibility. So many options and choices that I could sink the Titanic on principal alone.

Power Mac 7300My aging, yet still fantastic, Performa 575 – as turbo charged as it was – could not sail the PowerPC seas. I ventured on a new Mac, one that would broaden my horizons beyond my earlier expectations. I saved up and bought a Power Macintosh 7300/200. If I could get blisters from the speed this machine had, I certainly did. A 200 MHz 604e was almost a religious confirmation for me. I could not believe my fortune. This Mac was far better than the first PowerPCs I almost bought in 1993. I was glad I waited.

Then something wonderful happened. More money came gushing in with a better job. Soon I felt that I could take this Mac even higher – and I did. Over the next two years I ventured down the upgrade path and have reached a point where I can not go further without a new Mac – and a new Mac would not be much faster than what I have today.

Following fire sales and special deals, I boosted this 32 MB PowerPC to a whooping 256 MB, left the 12x CD-ROM alone, jammed inside two 4 GB hard drives running standard SCSI-2 (from the 2 GB drive, which is now inside the Performa 575), dropped in 12 MB Voodoo2 and 32 MB Rage 128 Nexus video cards, and gently placed a 400/200/1MB G3 card inside – and hoped and prayed. It booted without a hitch. I fainted. I awoke hours later feeling very much like the butterfly emerged from my previous life and began to live health, new, fresh, and vibrant. There was nothing I could not do, try, or experience. This Mac could have steered the Earth through the heavens! And now at 30 years, this boy is a man. Yet the Mac remains.

Macintosh SE/30

In the time since 1998, along with my adventures into my 7300/G3, I inherited an SE/30! Feeling like I have come full circle, the SE/30 is a turbo version of the Mac Plus, my first Mac. With 8 MB RAM, a 40 MB hard drive inside, and a 16 MHz 68030, it was severely slow compared to my 7300, but strangely attractive. The nostalgia overwhelmed me.

One day I saw a neighbor walking a Mac to the curbside to be thrown away. Crying out and feeling like my innards were being devoured while alive, I ran to the scene and asked what in this universe was she doing? She said she bought a 500 MHz Pentium III, and this Mac was just trash to her. Nostalgia flooded my veins. I asked her for it and got it for free. It was hardly used, and it was brand new clean. With 9 MB of RAM and upgraded 250 MB hard drive, 12″ color RGB, keyboard and mouse, I now had a wonderful 20 MHz 68030 Mac IIsi!

PowerBook 100 SeriesThen my wife’s mother’s friend bought a G3/266 beige and offered me her Mac Plus and PowerBook 145B! What is happening to me! My wife claims I have become a dumping ground for old Macs. I feel like I have won the lottery over and over and over again!

Of course I will not keep all this. But I will keep the Performa 575, the SE/30, the PowerBook 145B, and, of course, the 7300/G3. But for awhile I will have a mint IIsi and “my” first Mac again, the Mac Plus. What a life, and all before age 30, just at the dawn of the next century when we are all about to see godly things happening with the G4 in 2000. What’s next?

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