30 years ago seems like yesterday

Okay, no, it seems like 30 years ago. 20 years ago seems like yesterday. My spouse has wanted a Macquarium for years, and maybe three or four years back she got an old mac on ebay. And finally the other day she was down in the basement with the 10-year-old (who knows his way around a Torx set) opening the case. Then yesterday evening after dinner he and I went back down to pull apart the circuit boards. (First he tried to puzzle out some of the names on the inside of the case, asking all innocently questions like “Who was Jef with one ‘f’ Raskin?”)


If I read that motherboard serial number right (and the 1983 copyright date) it would have been in the first few thousand built, back around the time my office got one for review, long before there were printers.  Whoever owned this mac must have liked it a lot, or else been in a particular sour spot between early adopter and actually able to afford a new computer on a regular basis. Because they kept the machine around well after there were newer models to choose. On top of that motherboard are not one but two expansion boards (with a couple of jumpers soldered ever so delicately to the legs of chips on the mainboard). I have no clue what one of them does; the other appears to increase RAM to the then-magnificent level of 512K (that would be 48 single-inline-pin packages in six banks of eight each).  The board also has sockets for another two banks of DIPs — a potential megabyte in total? I spent years doing real work on machines way less powerful than this.

Oh, and the clock runs at 15.667 Mhz. A Teensy 3.1 with an SPI memory chip and a tiny LCD display backpack would beat the crap out of it. A raspberry pi or a beaglebone black would outcalculate a whole campus full of these machines. No wonder the 10-year-old sometimes asks if there were dinosaurs around when I was a kid.

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