RetroMacCast

Where great old Macs live again!

When recently filling out the new RetroMacCast member form, I reflected on my first home computer back in 1984 -- a Macintosh 128k. What a simple yet ground-breaking machine, destined to forever change my view on computing and life in general. No, the Mac does not capture my every waking hour, but it has inspired my love of computers and technology, ultimately leading me to study electrical engineering in college which in turn brought me to Japan.

This first Mac was not actually "my" Mac (at the beginning anyway) but the family Mac, for I was only 13 in 1984. My father was given the option by his board of directors to either take his bonus that year in the form of cash or the "new computer from Apple." Thankfully, he chose the latter, and the rest is history. The new Mac 128k arrived with an ImageWriter I and some absolutely amazing software.

This new computing wonder captivated my attention for countless hours. I still recall first touching this thing called "the mouse" and trying in vain (for an hour anyway) to make it move the arrow cursor the way I wanted it to go. But with a little practice, I had it mastered. Not only did the machine come with Tour disks, MacPaint, MacWrite and MacDraw, the shop who sold the Mac knew my father and threw in a copy of SmoothTalker 1.0, by First Byte. How I loved to fiddle with that! I knew of no one at the time who had anything like this setup. My friends who used Commodore 64's were stunned by the detailed graphics and intuitive GUI.

Over the next few years, this little Mac allowed me to wow my teachers at school with not only typed reports but graphical ones too! In 1989 when I entered college, an engineering professor absolutely loved one of the reports I submitted (my Mac 128k had been upgraded to the equivalent of a Plus at the time) and he asked what version of AutoCAD I used and how many hours it took. I floored him when I replied, "I drew it in Deneba Canvas on my Mac in under an hour."

My original compact Mac is long gone, but I never forgot my "first love" through the years. I grew nostalgic for that old Mac around 2003 while still living here in Japan. An EBAY account and surface shipping from USPS (which sadly is no longer available) were the beginnings of what has now become my classic Mac hobby. I first acquired an SE/30 with PDS Ethernet, then added RAM and ROM and drives and other upgrades for it. Having experienced SimasiMac (horizontal lines at cold boot) with it, I bought some Larry Pina books and began research into the technical and repair side of the hobby. I then purchased a Mac 512k with 64k ROMs, which also came with an external 400k drive, loads of software in their original boxes, and even the original 128k logic board too. I later added an Apple HD20 to round out the experience. Subsequent purchases included a Newton 2000 upgraded to a 2100 (and accessories), and another Mac 512k but with GCC internal HyperDrive 20. (And the old reviews you may have read are accurate -- the HyperDrive really is more than twice as fast as the serial HD20.)

With economical surface shipping no longer available from USPS and with my wife giving me the evil eye when she perceives that I'm pondering yet another computing purchase, I've decided to halt my Mac acquisitions for now. But I still get a thrill out of using these old 68k machines as much as I enjoy exchanging dialog with others on Mac enthusiast sites like this one. The memory of my first Mac is certainly alive and well. James and John, keep up the great work in reminding us just how wonderful these computers were and still are. Long live the Mac!

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