Ryan Cunningham is 16 years old and volunteers at RICM. Ryan is assisting the museum in troubleshooting the collection of Apple Macantosh systems. He also is learning about the museum's DEC PDP 11's and powers up the system 11/34. Ryan wrote the following article on his work with the museum as a school homework project.
7 November 2010
A few weeks ago, I visited the Rhode Island Computer Museum and had an in-depth conversation with the owner and he asked for my help in repairing some old computers. I visited a second time to bring the computers home with me. Upon leaving, the owner insisted that I take something with me to keep for myself so I chose 2 Macintosh
computers from the 80s and 90s, along with a 20mb external hard drive and carrying case. To be honest, I felt like I was stealing from a museum, but I realized it was okay, At first, I was going to leave with an Apple II (1977), but then I saw this old Macintosh 512K (1984) right next to it, so I took it, but before I left, he also gave me a newer mac, a carrying case, with a newer Macintosh Classic II, and a mac hard disk20SC. In all this, I forgot to grab the keyboard and mouse for the macintosh 512K, so immeditely i knew that it was useless, but it was the only Mac that worked, so I didn't know what to do. The macintosh Classic II wasn't working for an unknown problem.
When I first powered on the Macintosh Classic II, I got a screen with 4 large vertical lines, and I thought that it was a memory problem, but it just happened to be the PRAM battery, which keeps the clock set. It also turned out that if you leave it on for a while, it would boot up. The Macintosh 512K always worked, but it needed an operating system, so I installed Mac OS 4 on the Mac SCSI hard drive with thehelp of the Mac Classic that I got at the museum. when I plugged the hard drive back into the 512K, and it booted right up.
The Macintosh Classic 2 is more powerful than the 512k, with more ram, and a larger hard drive. Both macs have black and white screens. They can literally only display 2 colors, black and white. Apple cheated this by having a white pixel right next to a black pixel on their desktop backgrounds to make different shades of gray. For storage, both macs have floppy disk drives, but the classic uses a 1.44 MB drive, and the
512K's drive is only a 400KB drive. Both Macs suopport modems for appletalk networks.
I prefer the Macintosh 512K over the classic, because it works better, and because it is older, making it worth more money. Believe it or not, the 512K boots in only 5 seconds, leaving the mac classic in the dust with a boot time of about 25 seconds. The 512K boots so fast, that it even beats most modern computers in a boot time race. The reason it boots so quickly is that it's operating system is much simpler than
Windows, having only 9 core system files, while windows has thousands of important system files.
After the repairs I did, both Macs out performed themselves in their own
ways, one being more powerful, and one being faster. The owner said I could keep them if I repaired them so now I am the proud owner of 2 MacIntosh computers that are older than me, and maybe even some of my high school teachers!!!