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MacPic of The Day: Before & After September 26, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iPhone, Legacy Hardware, MacPics.
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RTFM September 1, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Documentation, Legacy Hardware, Pics.
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I’m a big fan of instruction manuals, and I find a perverse sort of pleasure in reading them – even though I never really do when I get the gadget first. I wing it, trying to see if I could get it to run and at what point I’d actually have to RTFM.

I believe I once actually had a manual for the first Mac, but of course it’s been filed away in the Twilight Zone. If you’d like a chance to see how user’s manuals for the first Macintosh looked like (yes, Virginia, there were paper instruction books back in the day, made of real paper), check out this Flickr album from a guy named Peter Merholz, who found an original manual in a garage sale somewhere. He blogs about it here.

Dated, but still cool, and designed very nicely.

True or False: The first Apple computer was made of wood. April 21, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Legacy Hardware.
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True. At lease the case was.

The Apple I, circa 1976, was made and designed by Steve Wozniak in Palo Alto, California. Only 200 were made, and sold for US$600 fully assembled as a circuit board, but to get it to work you needed to purchase a case, power supply, keyboard and display. Its CPU was a MOS 6502 running at 1kHz. It came standard with 4kb memory. It was discontinued a year later when the Apple ][ came out.

Today, maybe 30 to 50 units still exist. At an auction in 1999, one sold for US$50,000.

Humble beginnings, and the start of something good.

How it all began for me April 15, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Legacy Hardware, Reminiscing.
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My love affair with Macs began with a dalliance in the early 80s with an Apple ][ Plus that look exactly like this. Well, kinda; only I had just one drive, not two. The other chunky metal floppy drive came much later. Actually, come to think of it, even the first drive came late too; I started with a little cassette recorder to load up apps and games, and to save files. On cassettes, I kid you not. I used to listen to the stored programs, and they sounded exactly like modems do when they try to connect to some slow-ass provider. I remember my favorite program was a game called Space Invaders, a 20k app which took fifteen minutes to load up and start.

The Apple ][ Plus wasn’t a Mac, no. The Mac came later in my life. But this is the computer that started me on Apple, and onto the Mac. This is how it all began.

Later I’d get a Z80 card and a 64k memory expansion card so I could run CP/M, which is a command-line operating system that wasn’t made by Apple (strictly speaking, I wasn’t using Apple software, just the hardware – later I’d live and breathe Appleworks, but in the early days it was Wordstar and dBase and VisiCalc). CP/M was the ancestor of MS-DOS, and CP/M itself grew up to become DR-DOS, if I’m not mistaken. I’d later graduate into a Apple //e, and then an Apple //e-Enhanced, (which was silly when you come to think about it – the e in //e stood for “enhanced” already) – and a color composite monitor and more colorful games like Centipede and Karateka, and then, finally, a Macintosh.

My //e still lives and breathes, by the way, a 25-year-old geezer. I love that thing.

Seemed appropriate to talk about my roots, at this juncture. Great to put things in perspective; there are so many proud, chest-thumping newbie Mac fanboys whose earliest memories start with the Aluminum Powerbooks. Man, you don’t even know the half of it, you young whippersnappers. *grumble* Let’s just say, if you’ve never wrestled with system extensions to get your Mac running, be careful in flaunting your Mac pedigree.

More reminiscing as my memory comes slowly crawling back.