A Rescued Fat Mac

I found my first Mac in the garbage. It was a Mac 512K (Fat Mac) and had been the office computer at my church for about five years. It had developed the vertical line disease (for those of you who don’t know old Macs, when they get too hot, the insides start to melt a little bit, and the first thing to go is always the screen).

Mac 512KThe church figured it wasn’t worth fixing, so they were going to throw it out. I claimed it instead.

At the time, I was 12, and the thing sat on my desk for about six months while I saved up the $50 necessary to get it repaired. In the end, my parents got it fixed for me.

I learned for about four years on that Mac: I learned word processing (MS Word, MacWrite), spreadsheets (MS Multiplan), databases (MS File) and even object oriented programming (HyperCard). I pulled every one of those programs apart with ResEdit. I loved it.

I remember the first time I heard the happy boing and saw the disk with the flashing question mark. I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t understand a system where the graphics were already there.

We used 8086s at school, and I knew most of DOS, but this was completely new to me. What perplexed me even more how “an old piece of garbage computer” could be so much more advanced than any PC I’d ever used. I used to sit in class and imagine what things would look like in FatBits (MacPaint). I managed to make my Mac run System 6.0.3, got a hard drive for it, and a printer, and even a scanner. It got the vertical line disease again from hours of running late into the night, and this time I let it die.

Right now I’m in college learning to program Wintel machines. I run a loaded 466 MHz Intel Celeron, but I saved up for a little while, and I’m picking up the first Mac I’ve owned in five years.

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