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Looking to have a working Compact Mac system again!

Tek466

New member
Hello everyone! Please forgive any mistakes as this is my first time posting, it took forever for the verification email to finally come in!

I’m 20 years old and very passionate towards vintage computing, antique and vintage electronics, life safety systems, mechanical equipment, etc. 68K Macs in particular. I enjoy my PB 180 so much, and at one point I had a 1400c.

I grew up with very fond memories as a young child using my mother’s Macintosh Plus system. It was her computer in the 80s and through the 90s when she worked in the City as a graphic artist and used it for drafting and art. It ran System 6, had 1MB of RAM, a “Cutting Edge” brand external SCSI drive, LaserWriter II printer, and the original mouse and keyboard. I consider it as being what sparked my interest in computers and electronics in general as I got older. I loved that machine and the sounds that old drive made spinning up so much. I have very fond memories of using it when I was little as it was the first computer I had ever interacted with.

My parents are a little older and thus never got into modern computers much until around 2008, so that’s why even by the early 2000s they didn’t have anything besides the Mac Plus. I think it’s cool that it was the first computer I had ever used, as by that point most people were using much newer systems.

Sadly, over the years the peripherals to the system were lost and all that’s left is the Plus itself, yellowed and with a bad internal floppy drive (mechanical issue), so I’ve saved it as a parts unit, mainly due to the difficulty of finding a keyboard and mouse for it and my current inability to open the case to fix the floppy drive (I need a longer screwdriver!) I know they can be fixed easily, but I’d rather try and get a unit in better shape but I’m not against restoring this unit if I can get the keyboard and mouse and cables and a hard drive. The floppy drive I can repair and I can also recap the analog board. There’s a couple “Cutting Edge” brand external SCSI hard drive units on eBay like what we had, so I may be able to pick one up depending on budget. I know I don’t need a certain brand drive, but it would be nostalgic and neat for both my mother and I to have the same one we had.

I simply do not have the budget right now to acquire all of the parts and peripherals I would need to complete this project online since my family isn’t in the biggest budget right now (mice and keyboard alone are hard to find) although I would really love to give this system the life and appreciation it deserves once again as it’s important to me. I think I’d love to surprise my mother with a running complete system again, I think it would be so neat to preserve a piece of history while at the same time, being able to sit down together and hear that old drive spin up and initialize and enjoy some classic software she used back in the day and some Macintosh games. At one point I had a whole box of floppies with some software on them but I can't seem to find them, so that's annoying haha.

I figured bringing my intent of this project to this excellent community would be a great first start, in case anyone had any peripherals or parts to spare towards this project and even just the knowledge pool alone is so helpful. I may decide to document it on my small YouTube channel I have. It would bring me so much joy to be able to use, enjoy, and preserve this piece of Apple history again and see it sitting proudly upon my cozy desk space, getting used every few days and being reminded of the 80s. I am very knowledgeable and fond of these vintage Macs, and may be getting a few more PB 100 series machines. I like knowing that I am preserving a piece of history while enjoying it at the same time.

Now, I also was suggested this other idea...

Due to the better reliability and relative ease of finding ADB peripherals, and also the better cooling design and reliability, I would also be open to acquire a Mac SE to use instead of the Mac Plus if possible, unless someone has a keyboard and mouse for a Plus that they’d be willing to part with. An internal HD on an SE isn’t a requirement due to the intent on getting the external SCSI drive. I was happy I was able to find that one because it’s a neat external drive. She’s gone through a lot the last few months, and I figured in addition to my own personal interest in enjoying these machines, that it would bring her some joy to see some old Mac software running again on a compact mac with the same equipment she used.

So if anyone happens to have a Mac SE that they would be willing to part with, I would really love to take on this dream of mine and project to get a system up and running again. I figured that asking here with people who have the same interest in these old Macs is a lot easier to potentially find something rather than trying to find one on eBay or something, and I really enjoy this community. All I’d need is to find a (hopefully period correct) ADB keyboard and mouse, and hook the SE up to the SCSI drive that I have and I will have made up the same configuration that I remember using when I was little.

Then it would be time to get some floppies out and transfer some software! I used to have a ton of floppies but I can’t seem to find them.

These compact Macs and vintage Macs in general mean a lot to me and it would make me really happy to be able to enjoy one again. Thanks for your time.
 

volvo242gt

Well-known member
Welcome to the asylum... I would try to get an SE FDHD or SuperDrive model (same machine, different silkscreening on the front bezel). It'll be easier to sneakernet files between it and a more modern Mac, especially one like a B&W G3 or a G4, etc, that needs a USB floppy drive, which can only read/write to HD floppies.

At the same time, I would go ahead and hunt down the parts necessary to refurbish the old Plus, since it does have sentimental value. Just take your time with getting the keyboard, mouse, etc. That way it won't break the bank.
 

cheesestraws

Well-known member
Welcome to the forums! Here are some random thoughts that might help (I will be of little use for parts, as I am across an ocean from you):

but I’d rather try and get a unit in better shape

There's a real advantage in fixing a machine that's in really bad shape as your first attempt: it's easy to make it better, and it's less annoying if you muck something up. The first machines I got up the courage to work on were so knackered that I couldn't make them worse, and it made the whole thing significantly less stressful. And the sense of reward for making them better was really high: and yes, I had to come back a couple of years later when I'd learned more and touch some bits up, but that's OK.

mice and keyboard alone are hard to find

The mice and keyboard are probably the hardest bits to find, to be honest: I think partly because everyone goes 'oh look an old keyboard let's charge a small fortune for it'. But they're not actually rare. They do sometimes go affordably, but patience is your best asset here. You have a couple of other options here to think about to get the machine going and working while you wait to be able to get other parts:
  • There's nothing particularly special about the Mac Plus mouse, it's just a quadrature mouse basically of the same kind that the Amiga, Atari, Acorn and a number of other machines used. If you are electrically minded, you can build an adapter for a different quadrature mouse easily: there aren't any components needed, generally, it's just a matter of adapting the pinouts.

  • If you are into Arduino type stuff, you can make your own mouse device easily and it's a good learning experience. I made one based on a cheap joystick from eBay and an Arduino Pro Mini: https://68kmla.org/bb/index.php?threads/joystick-mouse-replacement-for-lisa-128-512-plus.35763/

  • The deluxe option here is the Quack, which is a dongle to use bluetooth mice on quadrature machines.
For the keyboard, you have options like https://github.com/trekawek/mac-plus-ps2 (which I haven't used personally) which will allow a more available PC keyboard to be used for the moment.

I need a longer screwdriver

You're going to need this for any of the compact macs. They're all basically the same design in that respect.

acquire a Mac SE to use instead of the Mac Plus if possible

An SE would be a very pragmatically sensible choice. SEs are common and—especially if you can find one locally—reasonably cheap (or there may be someone on here trying to let go of one). They're also very reliable, and generally easier to look after than Pluses, partly because the PSU is a discrete unit that you can swap independently of the rest of the AB (or do an ATX conversion on, which is basically impossible for a Plus), nd partly because, as you say, they have less of a tendency to cook themselves. And yes, ADB peripherals are much more common.


You're probably going to have to resign yourself to the fact that this is just what time does to plastic (or, at least, these plastics). Most SEs you get will also be quite thoroughly yellowed. There are some environmental factors, though I'm not sure anyone has totally pinned down what they are. Retrobrighting is an option, but it basically boils down to 'soak it in hydrogen peroxide', which sounds like it'd have deleterious effects on the stability of the plastic—and even if you retrobright, the plastic merrily goes back to yellowing anyway.

Some people do it because they don't like it that old things look old; it's probably healthier to embrace and accept the passing of time.

I figured that asking here with people who have the same interest in these old Macs is a lot easier to potentially find something rather than trying to find one on eBay or something

I'd suggest starting by working out what your plan, and what you actually want to do. I think @volvo242gt 's plan of getting an SE in the short term and then slowly hunting down the bits for the Plus is probably your best approach here, but others may disagree. Hang around the forums, chat about stuff, work out what you're doing, keep an eye on the trading post for people trying to get rid of SEs. But also keep an eye on local classified ads; people selling locally are more likely to have reasonable prices than people selling worldwide.

You have options :).
 

LaPorta

Well-known member
If you go the “stay with the Plus” route, I may have a mouse and keyboard I could source to you. I am in the midst of moving, though: it could be a bit before we could work something out.
 

Tek466

New member
If you go the “stay with the Plus” route, I may have a mouse and keyboard I could source to you. I am in the midst of moving, though: it could be a bit before we could work something out.
Sorry for the late response, I still need to get back to the others. I got a bit busy haha. I think going that route makes the best sense right now, as the Plus isn't in too bad of shape really other than needed it's floppy drive serviced. I think I'd take you up on getting a keyboard and mouse from you, when you find the time of course to work through it. You can take as much time as needed.
 
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