Buying the 128k
Right. Home from hospital. My advice is to avoid septic pre-patella bursitis if you can.
Something those of you in the US won’t necessarily be aware of is that vintage Macs aren’t as available elsewhere in the world. Obviously the US being a bigger market than anywhere is a factor, but there are more proportionately in the US than elsewhere in the world. At any given time there seem to be at least half a dozen in-box 128ks for sale (some, admittedly, for insane prices). They don’t come up often in Australia.
Then one did, and I happened to have some money burning a hole in my pocket. The price was mad, but it was in its original box. The price was insane, but it came with an in-box Imagewriter I (which seems not to work, but that’s okay — I have four). The price was mental, but it came with Sargon III and freakin’ Mouse Stampede!
In the course of emailing the sellers I had, of course, asked some questions;
- Does the machine say “Macintosh” or “Macintosh 128k” on the back?
- Does it boot?
- Have you had it serviced?
Through this conversation I determined that the Mac was booting to a sad mac error. The sellers got its analogue board repaired by local guru Bruce Rayne and had its floppy drive cleaned and lubed. We negotiated for a while, I steeled myself and committed, and started the three hour drive from Canberra to Sydney to collect the thing. A pretty cheerful drive, listening to nerdy podcasts and Bruce Reyne’s Mac Plus recapping guide on YouTube (without watching — I was driving!). They were clearly honourable sellers — after I had paid a deposit they had received an offer for severall hundred dollars more, but refused on the basis that (a) they’d taken the deposit, and (b) I obviously really wanted it.
The packaging isn’t in perfect condition, nor is it entirely complete, but it’s pretty close. It came in the original Picasso (actually Matisse) box, with the Picsso (actually Matisse) keyboard and accessories boxes inside. Original foam. The mouse box is missing, but the original MacWrite/MacPaint box was included. The Imagewriter accessories box with a Picasso (actually Matisse) logo of a parallel (or is it some sort of wide serial?) cable on the front was included.
The machine came with some interesting software. I’ve mentioned MacPaint and MacWrite. They’re obvious, although I was pleased to find it included the “disk-based” version of MacWrite which can cope with documents longer than eight pages. The full list of software:
- System software
- The Guided Tour of Macintosh disk and tape(!). If you’ve never listened to that tape, do. It’s beautifully produced with a lovely classical soundtrack, and is a really interesting study in what it’s like to teach someone to use a GUI from scratch.
- MacWrite/MacPaint, in the (original?) combined box.
- Transylvania (complete with some 1985-era gameplay maps and notes on Imagewriter carriage paper)
- Sargon III (chess)
- Mouse Stampede (centipede with Mac-themes icons)
- Mac Fun Pack
- TOPS networking hardware and software.
All of which I’ll look into later.
Once I got the beast home, I found the machine boots beautifully. It hasn’t skipped a beat yet. The geometry of the screen could do with some adjusting — I think Bruce did some, but the geometry changes over time with heat and so on, I think. I reckon it’s about 2° rotated anti-clockwise from the user’s point of view, and has a noticable inward barrel distortion (or is it pincushion if it’s inwards?).
The Imagewriter doesn’t work — it starts, the lights light up, but the carriage never moves and it doesn’t do anything when I try to print. That’s okay, because it’s my fourth (including the 15 inch wide carriage version, which is basically only useable in MacProject and a couple of spreadsheet programs).
The mouse and keyboard work very nicely, the floppy is a bit stiff but works, and the voltage out of the mouse port boots my FloppyEmu perfectly. Winner.
I have it set up with the working Imagewriter, FloppyEmu, an Apple modem (like the ones sitting under the phones in the 128k manual) which is either 300 or 1200 baud (I can’t test it because it’s 2022 — I don’t have a landline), and an external floppy case with no drive inside. The last two are obviously just for the looks (for the moment).