Top 5 Most Wanted (Vintage) Computers: 2020 Edition

A couple years ago, I listed my top five choices for vintage computer models I’d like to own. I thought I’d do a follow-up and see what has changed.

So, let’s look at my choices.

5. Apple II

An original Apple II with the monitor and two “Disk II” floppy drives. (Photo: Old Computers.net)

The Apple II maintains its position in fifth place. The computer is the epitome of the early personal computing industry. Introduced in 1977 by the fledgling Apple Computer, this computer needs very little introduction. (Click here to learn more.)

The Apple II is plentiful and easy to find; they were mass-produced over a span of 16 years with many different models (Apple II, II Plus, IIe, IIc, IIgs.) However, the Apple II can be somewhat difficult to use.

4. IBM PC or PS/2

The IBM PC ranks fourth on my list. (Photo: Wikimedia.)

The IBM PC is a landmark computer in computing history. Introduced in 1981, it started the entire PC and “PC-Clone” industry, using Intel processors and Microsoft’s MS-DOS (eventually Windows.) After several iterations of the original IBM PC, IBM introduced the PS/2 (Personal System/2) series in 1987 as a replacement for the original PC, introducing new standards and ports.

The PC or PS/2 is a must for any vintage computer collection. The original IBM PC can run early versions of MS-DOS (and PC-DOS) whereas the PS/2 can run newer versions and even early Windows versions. Like the Apple II, the PC is based around MS-DOS – a command-line interface, making it somewhat difficult to use.

3. IBM ThinkPad (pre-2000)

The IBM ThinkPad T42, one of the oldest computers in my present collection.

The ThinkPad has long been heralded by many as one of the best Windows laptops on the market. Having owned a couple (and typing this on one), I can agree.

While I have the IBM ThinkPad T42, I’d like to have a portable IBM ThinkPad that can run earlier versions of Windows between 3.11 and 98.

2. 486 Gateway 2000

The Gateway 2000 I had as a kid resembled the top one. (Photo: Reese Riverson)

My second choice is a PC-Clone that was my first computer: a 486-based Gateway 2000 running Windows 3.11.

Besides the nostalgia of being my first computer, the Gateway 2000 can run many of the popular games and software of the early 1990s. With Windows 3.11, it is easy to use and features a graphical user interface. However, Windows 3.11 still has the MS-DOS underlay, so I can go into MS-DOS when I want to.

Unfortunately, Gateway 2000 models (prior to the 1997 name change) are somewhat rare and expensive.

1. Macintosh SE/30

Although the Macintosh SE closely resembles the SE/30 on the outside, the SE/30 is much more powerful.

Strangely, #1 in my original post is now my first choice.

Instead of generalizing it as just “Compact Macs” (like I did in 2018), I’ve narrowed it down to the Macintosh SE/30. The SE/30 is old enough that it has that “early Mac” charm, but new enough that it can run many of the games and software of the era. The SE/30 has the Motorola 68030 processor, which places it above the SE and many other Macs of the era.

Unfortunately, vintage Macs are not plentiful in my area… and are expensive when they come up for sale.

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