This Old Mac

October 29th, 2008 by Editor B

8600

Alex,

Just wanted to let you know what’s up with this old Mac. I’ve ended up taking it in to work in order to get my old data off of it. The good news is that it’s working. I’ve even scored an old ADB keyboard and mouse from a co-worker. Turns out they’re a little harder to come by than I thought. Anyway, you can have them with the Mac if you’re still interested. You will still need to supply your own monitor, though.

It’s been fun seeing all these old files and messing around with this machine. There’s a bit of a story here — this Mac was the one thing I took upstairs before we evacuated for Katrina. That’s why it no longer has a monitor, keyboard or mouse. All those things were flooded. As for the machine itself, it’s been sitting in our hallway for the last three years. This is the first time it’s been booted up since the flooding.

But even before Katrina this system was showing its age. I handed over to Xy (my wife) in 2002 when I bought a new iMac. We kept it running but it was not exactly the latest and greatest. It’s got a 200 MHz PowerPC chip, a 2 GB SCSI hard drive, and it’s running Mac OS 8.6. Mozilla 1.0 is set as the default browser. As I said, revisiting this old system has been a trip. I was able to move those old personal files to another computer via AppleTalk. It took a bit of research and memory-jogging to even remember how to operate OS 8.6. All those crazy systems “extensions.” How did we ever manage?

On the downside, my explorations in this arena have brought home just how antiquated this box is. It’s a PowerMac 8600. That may not mean much to you but if you google it you’ll find you can buy one of these (in better shape than mine) for about $25. Pretty astonishing when you consider they cost 100 times that when they first came out, but that was eleven years ago after all.

This model sells for $25 for a reason — they’re really not adequate to today’s computing standards. Everything about this box is antiquated. If you’re a hardcore computer geek this might be fun to play with — and I use the term “fun” with caution. If you’re looking to “just get on the internet,” well, I have to say this may not be the best choice for you. Everything will be difficult.

But don’t get me wrong, you’re still welcome to it if you want it. I’m just trying to be realistic. Nothing would make me happier than for this old box to find a new home and be of some use to somebody. Just let me know.

Editor B

OS 8.6 Desktop

6 Responses to “This Old Mac”

  1. pam Says:

    do NOT let george tell you he wants it. ;)

  2. Kent Says:

    I still have a MacPlus purchased in 1986 that runs like a charm. It lay unsued in a dank mildewed basement in Bloomington IN from 1991-1999 and then started without a problem, and has worked fine since. My daughter loves the machine more than her laptop, and still plays some old games on it.

    One more reason to buy a Mac.

  3. rcs Says:

    I have a 6100 up in the attic :) You can still use machines of that vintage to run basic net services (mail, nntp) but yeah, they’re practically unusable anymore.

  4. Infrogmation Says:

    “Hurricane Mix”. Mm.

    My pre-K desktop powered up when the power came back the next October– displaying the weather service hurricane map just before getting everyone bugged out. The machine crashed fatally 10 minutes later. Seems like a lot of machines that didn’t get wet died or never worked right again after the storm.

    I still have my 8088 Dos Box PC Clone from the early ’80s seen in this photo:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/infrogmation/2893603928/ It’s wrapped in plastic in one of the corners of the attic the roof didn’t blow off from. It still worked when last I checked a dozen years ago– though not doing anything that would now be considered useful.

  5. liprap Says:

    Gotta love the relics – even if, these days, they are simply glorified doorstops…

  6. The Mighty Favog Says:

    My relic, stuck under a shelf in our basement closet, is a Mac Performa 450 (same as LCIII), circa 1993.

    With a whopping 120 MB hard drive and a screaming fast 25 mHz processor, we thought it was something. Floppy, no CD-ROM. CD-ROM??? Who can afford one of those newfangled things?

    I haven’t booted it up in seven years, but I bet it would still go. At least I hope so . . . if I ever manage to get another Mac (now that I can make the computers I love work and play with the Windows I need) there’s a lot of stuff I want to salvage from Ye Olden Days of System 7.

    And WordPerfect for Mac was a great word processor back in the day. I think it was better than MS Word is today.

    You know, while I really appreciate the overall quality of Macs — not to mention the always ahead-of-the-curve industrial design and ease of use — I wish Apple would throw those of us with solid Wintel boxes an OS bone.

    I have a couple of decent Dells, and I would jump at the chance to run Leopard on one of them in a dual-boot environment. Though I love the Mac styling and OS, I also love that Wintel boxes are so eminently futzable — that I can easily upgrade all the hardware and continually make the machine better and better, all within financial reason.

    Heck, I just saved my main audio-production machine from catastrophe as the hard drive started a (blessedly) slow death spiral. I copied the most crucial work files and Adobe Audition settings to another machine on my network before finding software to clone the dying drive to a spare USB outboard drive of the same size.

    Then I swapped the erstwhile portable hard drive for the dying original drive. Yeah, all told, I got derailed for a few hours, but otherwise, it’s as if nothing happened to the computer. Never missed a beat.

    I think I’d be freaking out if I had to do that with an iMac. Though they sure are cool.

    What are your thoughts as someone who’s stuck with Macs all along?

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