Apple Macintosh - 1

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Apple Macintosh

By 1984, Jacquie and I had been using IBM PCs at work for some time. At home, however, we had no computer except for my home-built microcomputers that did not have sufficient capability for general home use. We did not feel that a DOS-driven IBM PC (there was no Microsoft Windows at that time) was sufficiently user-friendly for use at home.


That all changed in 1984, when Apple came out with the 128K Apple Macintosh. Jacquie and I visited a computer store to take a look at one and try it out. We were very impressed and saw its graphical user interface as the solution to our home needs.

In October 1984 I purchased one, together with an ImageWriter printer and five 3½”400K floppy disks, as a surprise Christmas gift for Jacquie. The present was a great hit and on the right is a photo of Jacquie using her new computer. During 1985, we added software including Multiplan, a precursor of Excel (the spreadsheet software) and Microsoft File (database software).

A side effect of having the Macintosh in the house was that I became interested in its capabilities and lost interest in my hobby of designing and building microcomputers.

For Christmas 1985, we added an external 800K floppy drive. Then, in 1986, the company we both worked for sent us to the U.K. for several months. We took our 128K Mac with us (running it from a big transformer as electricity in the U.K. is supplied at 240 volts versus 110 volts in North America). During that year, Apple came out with a new version of the Macintosh: the Macintosh Plus with 1 MB of memory. Apple offered an upgrade to convert a 128K Macintosh to a Macintosh Plus and we took advantage of this. It involved a new motherboard and fitting a new back to the case due to the more advanced ports. Because we had this done in the U.K., our Macintosh had printed on its new back that it ran on 240 volts, whereas it really operated on 110 volts. I had to put a sticker on the back to indicate the correct voltage and prevent it from being inadvertently fried! As of today (2011) we still have this Macintosh, now 27 years old.

In 1988 we added a SuperMac DataFrame XP60 60 MB hard drive and it’s interesting to recall that I got a reduced price on this drive so that it cost “only” $1,700. I recently bought a 1 TB drive for about one tenth that amount!. How prices have come down over the years! This hard drive eventually died and we no longer have it. A year later we upgraded the memory of the MacPlus from 1 MB to 4 MB.

1n 1992 I bought myself an Apple PowerBook 170, one of the early laptops. So Jacquie had the Mac Plus and I had the Powerbook. From this time on, Jacquie and I have always had our own computers. So far, that has always meant a desktop computer for Jacquie and a laptop (now called a notebook) for me. The 170 was the high-end model and had a 10” black and white screen; it lasted me for 10 years.

As the technology improved, the Mac Plus started to seem slow and it’s  9” black and white screen became limiting. So, in 1995, we bought a Macintosh Quadra 605 for Jacquie. It came with a colour monitor; it was our first colour computer.

In 2001, the Quadra was 6 years old so Jacquie upgraded to one of the new iMac G3s: the iMac DV+. With it came an HP Deskjet 648C printer, our first inkjet printer.


The PowerBook 170 internal hard drive died in 2003; the computer was over 10 years old and was on its second battery which no longer held a good charge. Accordingly, I upgraded to a Titanium PowerBook G4 (see the photo on the left) with the result that I, too, now had a colour screen... and what speed! I put the PowerBook 170, in its original packaging out at the roadside for special garbage collection. I put a note on it that it had no hard drive but somebody came by that wanted it and it disappeared.

In 2004, Jacquie replaced her iMac with an eMac, the lower-cost version of the iMac that Apple sold to the schools and universities and which it had just started selling to its other customers. Our iMac was sold to neighbours who later sold it to other neighbours and it is still running.

In 2008 I had broken the hinge of my PowerBook G4 but had done a home repair on it. However, it was difficult to open and close and so I mainly left it open. Recently, I managed to free up the hinge with some oil which makes it more convenient to use and the computer is still in use today (8 years old in 2011). Coupled with an iMic, I use it alongside my stereo equipment to digitize LPs and cassette tapes. Notice that the screen backlighting has become dim.


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