Skip to content

Retro Viator Posts

Apple Macintosh IIsi

The original Macintosh design is timeless, but by the end of the 1980s, Apple decided it was time to break the Mac out of its cute beige all-in-one enclosure and expand into a series of “snow white” cases with separate CRTs.  The Macintosh II was bold for a Mac but conventional for its time. In 1987, the original Macintosh II delivered fast processing power, color graphics, and expandability in a big-box format. A few years later, Apple provided similar features in the smaller footprint IIcx, IIci, and then the IIsi. The IIsi is perhaps most notable for being intentionally hobbled. Slowed down with limited expansion, the IIsi was a modest utility player that filled a gap in Apple’s lineup. I…

2 Comments

Apple IIe Platinum

In 1987, the Apple II was ten years old. It had ably carried Apple through the dramatic rise of the personal computing revolution. By the mid-80s, Apple suspected the end was near, but the Apple II faithful—with stacks of software—were not ready to let go. In response, Apple released the Apple IIe Platinum, providing an “enhanced” IIe with an expanded keyboard and a new greyish-colored case. In 1987, I was still exploring the wonders of CP/M thanks to my venerable Osborne One.  I could only dream of color graphics and a mountain of gaming titles.  Instead, I passed the time learning WordStar and SuperCalc and enjoying the text-based Colossal Cave Adventure game. The Apple IIe Platinum was a follow-up to…

2 Comments

Apple IIGS

The original Apple II first rolled off the assembly line in 1977, and Apple offered only modest improvements for nearly a decade. While the IIc provided a new form factor, the introduction of the IIGS in 1986 took the Apple II family to another level. While I remember a television ad or two, I never had the opportunity to use a IIGS in its prime. Only recently did I realize how capably it bridged the 8-bit and later 32-bit eras of home computing.   Apple begrudgingly advanced the Apple II platform after the collapse of the Lisa and Apple III (and with a sluggish start for the Macintosh). A new wave of personal computers emerged in the mid-80s that eclipsed…

14 Comments

Apple IIc

The Apple II is an 8-bit wonder and was Apple Computer’s first success. It was also arguably the first big hit of the personal computer revolution. Steve Wozniak famously hand-built the original Apple computer kit in 1976, then he and Steve Jobs became tech darlings after the introduction of the Apple II. Part of the “1977 Trinity” when introduced that year, the Apple II significantly outlived its contemporaries: the Commodore PET and TRS-80. Until discontinued in 1993, the Apple II line defined home computing. I watched the Apple II from afar. I saw the ads and software reviews in magazines, toyed with one or two briefly in school, but I only had direct access to CP/M and DOS machines in…

4 Comments

Gateway 2000 Nomad 325SXL

Known for its cow-patterned boxes and solid yet affordable equipment, Gateway 2000 (later just Gateway) was an early staple of the PC industry. Founded in 1985, the same year as its made-to-order rival Dell Computer, Gateway grew swiftly as the personal computer transformed from a hobbyist and gaming device into an essential business tool. The Nomad was Gateway’s first notebook computer. It was a rebadged Texas Instrument TravelMate–a relationship that lasted for a few years. Coming in either a 386SX, 486SX, or 486DX version, the Nomad was designed to support the DOS and Windows 3.1 needs of tech travelers. This Nomad was my first laptop computer. Purchased in the summer of 1992, it was my digital companion at college. Due…

3 Comments

Apple iMac G4

The iMac G4 was the memorable follow-up to Apple’s revolutionary iMac. Upon the return of Steve Jobs in 1997, he boldly transformed Apple’s products and inspired a historic line of devices. This “Flat Panel” iMac was built to highlight its attractive LCD monitor, which turned the traditional Macintosh all-in-one design on its head. I first encountered an iMac G4 when I helped a friend set one up in 2002. Every experience was new. From taking the alien-looking device out of the box, to seeing OS X, to launching Safari, it was my first exploration of a now common-place world. The Bondi Blue iMac released in 1998 demonstrated Apple’s renewed prowess. It ushered in a series of bold decisions, including using…

3 Comments

PiDP-11

The PiDP-11 is a modern replica of Digital Equipment Corporation’s influential PDP-11 minicomputer. Before, we had a computer on every desk and in every home–and long before they were in every pocket–computers were large, intimidating, and locked in special rooms at universities and corporations. The PDP series paved the way for making computers more accessible. PDP stood for Programmed Data Processor, and this distinguished line of computers was produced from 1957 to 1990. Each PDP model was numbered sequentially from one to sixteen (skipping PDP-2 and unlucky 13). The PDP-1, PDP-8, and PDP-11 are best remembered today. The PDP-11 was DEC’s first 16-bit computer and cost $20,000 when released in 1970. Reportedly, 600,000 units were sold over its long life,…

2 Comments

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Unibody

This is not a satisfying tale. I was asked to repair a damaged MacBook Pro. Made in 2009, it is not exactly retro, but it’s also not something easily serviced at your local Genius Bar. When I received it, the laptop would not close properly as the screen housing was damaged, and the display cable was popping out when the notebook was open. More troubling, the display showed odd color patterns, shifting certain blacks to green and inserting pink lines over some white areas. This MacBook Pro belongs to my sister. It was given to her by a friend, and its had a hard life. Obviously dropped, spilled on, and used regularly, it is still fairly capable of handling daily…

Leave a Comment

Apple iPod 3rd and 4th Gen

If you have more than one pocket, why not have more than 1,000 songs in each? After building confidence restoring the 6th and final version of the iPod Classic, I was ready to take on a dual restoration of a 3rd and a 4th generation iPod. The 3rd generation iPod belonged to a good friend who insisted on only including full albums from different genres and shuffling between them with abandon. The 4th generation iPod was my first. A gift from my wife given shortly after we were married. This iPod was my daily companion for many years, allowing me to enjoy custom playlists and introducing me to a steady rotation of podcasts. Apple’s 3rd generation iPod was the first…

2 Comments

Compaq Deskpro 386s

Compaq was a bold and innovative company, producing some of the best computers of the 1980s. Founded by a trio of former Texas Instrument employees, the company famously (and legally) reverse-engineered the IBM PC and created the first successful portable PC. After making a name for itself, Compaq pivoted to the desktop. The Deskpro line of computers was known for quality, speed, and a steep purchase price. In 1986, the Deskpro 386 was the first computer with Intel’s groundbreaking 80386 processor, ushering in the 32-bit revolution. The later Deskpro 386s, manufactured in 1988, had an updated form factor and another first–this time, Intel’s new 80386SX processor. I was visiting a friend’s house in the mid-80s when I was introduced to…

7 Comments
© 2023