The year of the vintage Macs continues to surprise me.
A couple of weeks ago, the fellow 68k Macintosh enthusiast from Kansas City who helped me clean and lubricate the floppy drive in my Classic reached out about some items he was willing to part with. I obliged and finally made the hour trip to Kansas City to pick them up last night.
Before I get to the computer I picked up, I acquired some accessories for use with my vintage Mac collection.
Apple High-Resolution RGB Monitor
The first item was an Apple “High-Resolution” RGB monitor. Apple released this monitor in March 1987, alongside the Macintosh II. The Macintosh II was the first “modular” Macintosh model requiring the use of an external monitor, as well as being the first model to support color video.
He acquired two Apple High-Resolution RGB monitors along with two Macintosh IIci computers and likely two Apple Extended keyboards and ADB mice. While both monitors appeared to be functional (more on that below), the IIcis themselves were dead. One was killed by the infamous red Maxell PRAM battery bomb, and the other had other issues.
The “High-Resolution” monitor has a fixed resolution/scan rate – 640×480 at 60 Hz. The resolution isn’t supported by modern operating systems, so testing the monitor with an VGA adapter and a modern computer wasn’t possible.
Although I had my PowerBook 165 with me, the PowerBook has a video connector that requires an adapter to be used with the Apple monitors. I hope to purchase an adapter to use the monitor with my PowerBook 165 in the future, but at the moment we couldn’t even test it.
Although we couldn’t test the monitor’s video output, the high voltage circuitry sounded like it works. Stay tuned to see if it works. Both monitors had asset tags for a large multinational corporation based in the KC area on them, so hopefully they haven’t been worked too hard.
While I would have loved to take both monitors home, I only had space for one. If you’re in the Kansas City area or would be willing to pay for shipping on a 35-pound CRT monitor, please let me know and I can get you in contact with the seller. Otherwise, the other monitor will likely be recycled.
Apple Color StyleWriter 2500
Back in January, I purchased my first vintage Apple printer – an ImageWriter II. Since, the ImageWriter II has seen a lot of use printing out various documents.
While the ImageWriter II is a good printer for text, a dot-matrix printer isn’t well suited for printing graphics. Nor is it well suited for printing out documents at 1 a.m. when your neighbors are trying to sleep.
The Color StyleWriter 2500, which also followed me home last night, is a much newer Inkjet (or “bubble jet”) printer that Apple released in February 1996 – making it one of the last printers produced by Apple. As with many other Apple printers, it was based on a Canon printing engine.
As with the monitor, I couldn’t fully test the printer as my PowerBook 165 didn’t have enough room on the hard drive to install the drivers. (The PowerBook had a generic “StyleWriter” driver that would activate the printer, but ultimately threw an error message and didn’t attempt to print anything.) The Apple-branded ink cartridge inside the 2500 was long dried up, but a test print function allowed us to know that at least the paper feed mechanism works fine.
This printer may see use with the SuperSE once it is upgraded and running properly.
(Almost) Everything Else
Alongside the monitor and printer, I brought home an Apple Extended Keyboard and two ADB mice. I may end up using the Apple Extended keyboard with my SuperSE once I move back home. (The Extended keyboard would also make an excellent companion for a modern Mac with the ADB-to-USB “Wombat” adapter. Unfortunately, the Wombat is pricey.)
Lastly, I brought home an old Ehman external hard drive. The drive inside was dead, but it may be usable for a future project.
Then, there’s the key item I brought home: a Macintosh Plus.
1985 Macintosh Plus
The Macintosh Plus I acquired isn’t any ordinary Macintosh Plus. Taking a look at the front bezel of the computer would fool you into thinking it is a Macintosh 128k/512k instead of a Plus, while the sticker on the bucket clearly labels it as a Plus. It’s actually a mix of both, and let me explain. First, a history lesson.
When Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh to the world on January 24, 1984, it was met with mixed feelings. On one hand, the graphical user interface it incorporated was a huge upgrade over the command-line interfaces used by other computers at the time. However, it lacked a lot. On introduction, it lacked availability of software (outside of MacWrite and MacPaint. It didn’t take long for a software market to develop for the Macintosh.) However, the biggest issue it had was the small amount of memory – which was done in favor of cost savings to make the Macintosh more appealing for the consumer market.
Less than nine months later, Apple released the Macintosh 512k – which quadrupled the amount of memory it had. (512 kb in the 512k versus the 128 kb found in the original Macintosh 128k.) The Macintosh 512k would become the “de facto” Mac during this time because of the increased memory, allowing for the computer to load larger programs without the need for constantly swapping disks. (The Macintosh did not get an internal hard drive until the Macintosh SE in 1987, and external hard drives were not officially supported until the 512ke.)
In January 1986, however, Apple released the Macintosh Plus. The Plus doubled the memory over the 512k – with a full 1 MB installed from the factory. However, the Plus was the first Macintosh that could be upgraded to the full 4 MB. The Plus also introduced support for external SCSI devices, double-density/800k floppy drives, among other minor technical upgrades.
For owners of a 128k or 512k, they could easily upgrade their computer to a Plus with the official Apple Macintosh Plus upgrade kit. The kit left the front bezel, CRT, analog board and chassis alone. It replaced the logic board, floppy drive, and rear bucket. The upgrade was much cheaper than the cost of replacing the entire Mac with a new Plus off the shelf.
That is exactly what happened to this Plus. The Macintosh Plus I purchased was an upgraded 512k that was assembled in the 35th week of 1985. However, the bucket has been replaced and the logic board has the maxed out 4 MB of RAM.
The Macintosh Plus has one major flaw that makes it difficult to use as a collector’s item – the keyboard/mouse interface. Apple introduced ADB (the Apple Desktop Bus) with the Apple IIGS in 1986, later bringing it to the Macintosh line in March 1987 with the introduction of the Macintosh II and the Macintosh SE. Earlier Macintosh models – the 128k, 512k(e), and Plus – all utilized proprietary connectors for peripherals. The mouse used a DE-9 connector and the keyboard used a RJ-11 connector not unlike that used on a telephone. (However, a standard telephone cable will NOT work. The wiring order in telephone cables versus the Apple keyboard cables is reversed, which can fry your keyboard.) The appropriate keyboard and mice used with the early Macintosh models are rare and, as a result, are super expensive.
Therefore, my Macintosh Plus will likely be relegated to being a “display” unit. It won’t see any use until if/when I purchase the appropriate keyboard/mice set. The Macintosh Plus also uses the infamous RIFA caps that like to randomly go “bang” – unleashing tons of magical, burning wood-scented smoke that will leave the area smelling like wood smoke for a couple months. While the computer works, I won’t plug it in until it has been recapped. (Which likely won’t happen until I get he keyboard/mouse for it.)
Aesthetically, this Macintosh Plus is in rough shape. The rear bucket is EXTREMELY yellowed… I have not seen another Macintosh this yellow before. The rear of the bucket is completely brown. The case is dirty and in need of a good cleaning, as there are some torn stickers on one side.
This machine might be a good candidate for RetroBriting sometime in the future.
This haul brings my collection of vintage Macs to five computers, three ADB keyboards, four ADB mice, and two printers.
This will likely be the last computer haul I do for some time. Currently, I’m running out of space for storing my Macs. (I have had to resort to using my living room coffee table to store Macs that are not being used.) When I move back home in May, all but one of my vintage Macs will have to go into storage until I get my own place.
This post written on a 1994 Macintosh PowerBook 165 using Microsoft Word 5.0.