Where great old Macs live again!

Nicholas Cipolla
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  • Los Angeles, CA
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Apple I in the Smithsonian

Started May 17, 2016

Visit to the Mothership store- with pics!
2 Replies

Started this discussion. Last reply by stephen schaubach May 24, 2016.

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Profile Information

When did you get your first Mac?
How many Macs do you own?
5 (Mac Pro 2013, Mac Pro 2009, G5 Tower, 2009 MacBook Pro, PowerBook Titanium)
What's your favorite Mac of all time?
Mac IIci, of course!
How did you hear about RetroMacCast?
Mac Break Weekly

Thanks, James & John

I just wanted to say a bit about my Mac history and how much I like the podcast:

I grew up with Apple II+'s and IIe's in my elementary school's computer lab. We usually learned the Logo language, which was basically a geometric drawing language using a cursor called the "turtle". Not sure whatever happened to that product, but with practice, we made some pretty cool patterns and drawings of houses and such. The prize computer to sit at then had the color display, capable of a few colors on the screen at once. Later on, in the Upper School, the majority of the machines were Apple IIe Enhanced models, and this time the prize was the lone Apple IIgs in the back.

My family got their first computer around 1986, I believe. It was an Apple IIc, the model that was capable of a memory upgrade. I loved the computer and played many games and wrote all my book reports and such with Bank Street Writer and Print Shop. I even bought the mouse and used it with Bank Street Writer and the included Paint application. Enamored with the primitive GUI, I happened to get into Macs just at the same time as the low cost models were announced in the fall of 1990. Previous to that, I had very limited experience with Macs. A friend of the family's, a bishop in Iceland, had a Mac SE and Crystal Quest, which I got quite good at playing. A friend of mine had a Mac Plus and I was amazed at Shufflepuck Cafe and how Where in the World is Carmen San Diego could talk to you. Finally, I collaborated on a science report on a very wealthy friend's IIci with a LaserWriter.

I used to frequent this high-end Apple Dealer, ostensibly looking at the Apple II games, but really lusting at the Macs on display. I took all the literature I could (I still have all the brochures) and memorized all the specs of the entire Macintosh Family. I subscribed to MacWorld and then MacUser. Then I pressured my father for a Mac LC for the family's computer, using the Apple II card as a selling point (something we never ended up purchasing). Finally he relented and/or got sick of me, and got the educational price discount because he was a teacher. Back then you needed to go through a specialized reseller, and it took weeks. I remember calling them several times a week until it finally arrived. While waiting, I bought Microsoft Word with my own money (something like $200-250) and actually read the user manual for fun. I also ordered a free copy of HyperCard for Education. When the computer arrived, it was all I imagined it would be and more.

The LC was upgraded by myself to 6MB of RAM and 512K of VRAM, giving me access to Multifinder and Thousands of Colors. Our printer was a HP Deskwriter which cost $500 and claimed Laser-quality text, but fell way short of that. Still, compared to our old ImageWriter II, it was a revelation. So quiet and fast! Then came System 7. Everything was a bit pokey, but I didn't mind at all. The use of color was a welcome addition. I was so proud to be a Mac user at long last. I went to boarding school and managed to get a Mac LC II and a Deskwriter C 500 or something like that for myself. Very lucky, indeed. Later I upgraded that to a LCIII via case and motherboard swap and bumped up the RAM and even added a cache to the PDS slot. I also got a APS 230MB external SCSI drive, a 3x NEC Multispin CD-ROM, a 28.8bps Modem and eventually an APS 1GB drive. I had absolutely no idea how I would ever fill up that much space. Until the next year, that is. Back then I used the modem to access BBS's using Boardwatch Magazine as my guide. When First Class came out, it gave a GUI interface to the previous Telnet interface and seemed like the future. Boy, how wrong I was.

I brought the souped up LCIII to college, but by 1995, the Internet was emerging into the public sphere and I was unable to connect without an ethernet port. My roommate bought a PowerBook 540c and I used his computer sometimes for email via Telnet and Pine. In the fall of my Sophomore year I got a PowerCenter 166 in a minitower configuration. I souped up that baby as well. I had a ixMicro TV tuner card, extra RAM, and a sweet 19" Princeton monitor! Later that year I was among the first people to get a CD Burner, and I burned mixes for friends for three years until they caught up with me. I got music from my collection and from Web Forums until Napster came along and changed everything.

Technology didn't keep still and nor did I. Senior year I got a PowerMac G3 B&W tower, a revolutionary computer for Apple. With USB and Firewire came new peripheral choices. Since I went to England for a Master's Degree, I got a PowerBook G3 Wallstreet and a Firewire CD Burner and did just fine over there computing wise. When I got back to the states, I went to USC for my Ph.D. Since I was and still am a graduate student, I had to stretch my budget even more. I upgraded both my desktop and laptop to G4 processors and when the bookstore accidentally broke my laptop, I got a Titanium G4 Powerbook as a replacement. Good timing, too, since my Wallstreet was giving out anyway. Two years later I got a dual 2Ghz G5 PowerMac through a grant and having been plugging away ever since. My Titanium is about to die and I've upgraded just about every part of my G5 save the CPU and keyboard. Hopefully I will be able to upgrade both computers this summer as a result of another grant.

I love technology and computers, especially Macs. I know more about them than anyone I know personally, and that's why it's great to find out that there are more like me out there through this podcast. Recently I was in Europe for a 7 week research project and I had an apartment in Rome for 10 days. Because the TV was broken I delved into the podcasts I had brought with me, including all 90-100 odd episodes there were at that point. I have to say, I listened to them all, while cleaning, eating, washing up, showering, you name it. You guys helped me stay sane. I promise to make a donation when my finances allow- which isn't often.

Keep up the good work and long live the Mac!

Comment Wall (3 comments)

At 6:51pm on July 18, 2009, Lars (WhyOSX) said…
Hello Nicholas and welcome !
What are the two Macs you have?
1991 is an early date (from today's view), is that first one still in use ?
At 10:25pm on July 18, 2009, James said…
Thanks for joining Nicholas - so glad our podcast keeps you sane!
At 7:19am on July 25, 2009, John said…
That is a really great story. Thank you for the kind words.

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