After introducing people to my computer collection, usually one of the first questions I get is: what do you do with all of them?
Instead of giving the same spiel over and over, I decided to write about it.
The thought for this post popped up in my head recently while redoing my “Computer Roster” page in which I list all of my computers and devices. There, I categorized my computers into two categories: “working” and “retired/broken/lost.” (I also listed my devices on the page, including my retired devices like my old cell phones.)
Working computers are, as the name implies, computers that presently work.
I have two “daily driver” computers that receive use on a daily (or near-daily) basis. My 2019 MacBook Pro is my main work machine – all of my homework, graphic/web design, audio/video work and some other things are done on it. I also use the MacBook for editing and publishing posts on my blog.
On the other hand, my Lenovo ThinkPad W541 is my “entertainment” machine. I use it to casually browse the web, play Minecraft, and watch YouTube and movies. For actual work, I rarely use this machine.
Another computer listed on my roster is my early 2014 MacBook Air. While this machine isn’t my daily driver, my dad uses it as his daily driver.
Another machine I own is the Asus Essentio series desktop, which I’ve owned since my 11th birthday. The MintTin is a former daily driver of mine, but has since been turned into a Linux server of sorts. After I replaced it with a late 2014 Mac mini in November 2014, I installed Linux Mint on it and have used it to store files.
However, I haven’t been able to use it as a server since June 2017, when my parents moved. The configuration of my dad’s place and the placement of the router doesn’t physically allow me to easily connect the MintTin to the network.
When I get my own place, I may press the MintTin back into service. However, I’ve been dreaming up plans to replace the MintTin entirely with a beefier machine with way more storage. Since the MintTin only has 290 GB of storage space total, it’s pretty full.
My vintage machines is where this post gets interesting. Typically, people view any computer made before 2010 as something that should be tossed into the electronics recycling bin as its worthless.
Despite that, I’m a firm believer that even the oldest and least powerful of all of my machines – the (stock) 1988 Macintosh SE – can still be useful, even in 2021.
My newest “vintage” machine is an IBM ThinkPad T42, circa 2006. While the T42 doesn’t get nearly as much use as it did a couple years ago, I still use it for working with MIDI files or running old DOS apps and games in DOSBox. When the T42 was still able to connect to the university WiFi, I would regularly use it for telnet.
Truly Vintage Compact Macs
Then there’s my tres amigos – a 1991 Macintosh Classic, a stock 1988 Macintosh SE, and a 1988 Macintosh SE “SuperSE” with a ‘030 accelerator card. I’ve actually been working on writing a series detailing the usefulness of classic, 68000-powered Macintosh machines in 2021.
While each Mac has its “specialty”, I cycle through them each week. (Last week was the SuperSE, this week is the stock SE.)
The 1991 Macintosh Classic is my “middle-road” Mac. I’m currently using it for page layout and very light graphic design by using Aldus PageMaker 4.1, Aldus FreeHand, and CricketDraw. While I mostly run the stock System 6.0.7 on it, I will sometimes break into System 7 – typically to grab some screenshots for a post I’m working on.
My stock 1988 Macintosh SE is the least powerful machine I own. It has the same Motorola 68000 as the Classic, but only has a quarter of the memory – the stock 1 MB. However, it’s not completely useless. In fact, I’m writing this post on it! The 1988 Macintosh SE is a great machine to write posts on, as Word 4.0 runs comfortably on it. I’ve also done some page layout on the SE – creating an entire six-page newsletter using PageMaker 4.1. (It only crashed a couple times.) It’s my go-to machine if I want to tote one of my vintage Macs somewhere, such as when I go home for the weekend.
Then there’s my definitely-not-stock 1988 Macintosh SE, which I acquired late last month. This SE is quite special in a sentimental and literal sense. Not only did this Mac help re-ignite my passion for these old Macs, but it also has a special Mobius 030 accelerator card that ditches the old, slow 68000 processor with a faster Motorola 68030 processor clocked at 25 MHz. Aside from the processor upgrade, this “SuperSE” has a external display port and a larger (>200 MB) Maxtor hard drive.
However, there’s a major issue with the SuperSE. Because it has the accelerator card installed, I cannot use the FloppyEmu’s HD-20 emulation mode to transfer files or create a boot volume like I can with my other Macs. However, I’m hoping to purchase a device that will allow me to circumvent this issue by working on the SCSI bus instead of through the external floppy port. Once I do that, I can make a copy of its internal hard drive, erase it, and do what I want with it.
My goal for the SuperSE is simple: turn it into a “multimedia” and graphic design/page layout machine. I want to upgrade it to System 7 and install QuickTime on it. I’m hoping that Arnold’s MIDI Player and some other software will run on it to playback MIDI and (reduced quality) MP3 files. Because of the enhanced processing capabilities and the whopping 16 MB of memory, PageMaker 4, FreeHand, and other era graphic design programs run much faster than on my stock SE or the Classic.
Lastly, there’s one machine that has been largely forgotten about because of a problem – the PowerBook 165. My goal for the PB 165 is to be able to play around with vintage Macintosh software on the go. Since the PB 165 has the 68030, it’s plenty powerful to run most software from that era. However, currently it’s not working due to the lack of an AC adapter. Once I get an AC adapter, I will be posting an update post.
Although I have 13 computers, only eight currently work. However, all eight see regular use.
This post written on a 1988 Macintosh SE using Microsoft Word 4.0.