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Thread: Using your pre-00s Apple equipment in the modern day (and not just for goofing off!)

  1. #1
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    Default Using your pre-00s Apple equipment in the modern day (and not just for goofing off!)

    Hello all, and apologies if this is not quite in the right place/title as it's my first time making a thread. I'm a rather long-time collector and recently got my hands on a QuickTake. Given the recent energy and time to work things out, I've now almost got what I'd call a "retro mobile office" of a Newton MessagePad 130, a QuickTake 150, and a PowerBook 165c. I've got a printer and a dialup modem both coming soon on the to-do list. While the constraints of my needs prevent me from doing everything on it, I'm considering taking the latter two or all three with me traveling to another country, and trying to change a lot of my creative writing and perhaps music composition (which I'm trying to get back into) to be on retro machines. I used to use my Newton as a regular calendar/contact book/notepad, until the calendar issue became too much. Seems that the best updates are for the 2000, not the older ones.

    Besides just enjoying the equipment, I've found that some of it is better for my productivity than using modern smartphones or laptops. My newer digital calendars are so full of alarms, lack of organization/notes, and other issues that they're becoming more useless, especially given how much goes on with my smartphone. I've found using a dedicated PDA to be closer to having a paper calendar as far as keeping me on the ball and organized on my calendar. I can't multitask ten billion open 'net tabs and get distracted by pings constantly if I can't even open much of it on my older computers, let alone all at once.

    Given how far behind we've been left by now, especially as Mac users, I know it's considered a bit of a nutty thing to try doing, but I know other people do use their retro equipment—classic B&W Macs seem to be particularly popular with writers. I'd just like to talk to other people who have an interest in or do this specifically with older Apple equipment, although since I'm probably going to extend this to older non-Apple machines (older DOS portables and 70s minicomputers...) I may want to rephrase/rewrite this thread for more of a general audience.

    So: how do you like using your old Apple equipment for productivity or other things that aren't games/just goofing off?

  2. #2

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    Does archiving software count? I regularly use my vintage computers for archiving my vintage software.

  3. #3
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    Does annoying a tech support scammer count? He was quite flustered when he finally figured out that Netscape Navigator on my SE/30 wouldn't run his remote desktop application.

  4. #4
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    I briefly attempted to use my PowerBook 5300c on the 'net. Found an Asante (IIRC) ethernet PC card at a yard sale, installed the driver, and got it working. A vintage copy of Netscape Navigator was on the hard drive, and I attempted to use it to surf the 'net, but most pages I tried to visit would rack up dozens of 'errors' which would cause it to crash. One of the few which didn't cause it to crash was Google's main page. Another was my own website, which made me proud since I've kept its coding simple to allow it to be browsed on pretty much any computer. I tried to get a better browser on it, but was unsuccessful. I may return to futzing around with it at some point, but I dunno.

    With regards to non-internet applications, I made much use of my Mac SE for typing up papers and whatnot when I was in high school in the early '00s, equipped with an external hard drive which had been pulled from another Mac. Used Microsoft Word for regular word processing, and also made use of Print Shop for printing up greeting cards and banners used my Imagewriter II printer and its color ribbon. One of the banners I printed using it can be seen here:

    After I graduated from high school, I continued to use the SE in my 'home office'. Equipped it with an AppleCDSC external drive, which I mostly used for playing music CDs through a pair of computer speakers. Unfortunately, I soon found that the drive would overheat if I played more than a couple of CDs in a row, so I eventually lost interest. Here's a picture of what it looked like on my computer desk:

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamAnt316 View Post
    I briefly attempted to use my PowerBook 5300c on the 'net. Found an Asante (IIRC) ethernet PC card at a yard sale, installed the driver, and got it working. A vintage copy of Netscape Navigator was on the hard drive, and I attempted to use it to surf the 'net, but most pages I tried to visit would rack up dozens of 'errors' which would cause it to crash. One of the few which didn't cause it to crash was Google's main page.
    Oh man, how long ago were you trying this out? It seems like about mid-00s this became much more difficult. Sad that at this point pages are so loaded down with scripts that a G4 is now too long in the tooth—things have bloated up quickly enough that computers seem to be getting obsoleted more quickly for browsing due to dropped support and RAM requirements. Even things a bit newer than that, running Linux, seem to be running into problems. At this point I'm happy to use it for just text-based browsing, IRC, etc, and perhaps for reading sites like yours; I think my PowerBook may do just fine on it.

    Your "office" also has some striking similarities...I own a similar type of clock, the exact same type of floppies, power switch under my SE, etc., just some of it is in different parts of the room. My desk is significantly more cluttered, though. For stuff like playing CDs, I'd probably prefer to just use a stereo outright, likely an 80s one, but I used my G4 pretty extensively for that. It was obsolete at that point but not quite "vintage." (I still feel like it's a stretch, even given that mine is 17 years old...so in years, it is getting up there even if it doesn't feel that old.) I believe I alluded to this in my original post, but it seems like the architecture changes and dropped support make Macs that are "newer" in terms of age, compared to their PC peers, seem older, just because their support cycles were cut off sooner or developers dropped the architecture.

    I'm doing some research into vintage MIDI and FM synthesizer controls and composers. Macs had a decent number of them, it's just finding them first, as well as getting a MIDI adapter for a vintage Mac within a reasonable price range. Found some MIDI programs, but the editors for FM synths seem harder to find. I have a period correct synthesizer that could pair nicely with an SE.

    Also, RE the banner...I actually received a birthday banner made in the same way, this year! That was a pretty great gift from another collector. Should put it up for a party. There's something unique about dot matrix-printed banners. I'm curious to try printing out my photos on an impact printer. Have been doing photography on the QuickTake 150, still getting the hang of lighting/color balance, don't have a color impact printer, however. The camera does seem to draw some questions or attention, since it looks more like binoculars than a camera until you actually pick it up and take a photo...

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