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Tag: Capacitors

IBM Personal Computer XT

With Apple, Tandy, and Commodore’s early microcomputer success, the industry speculated how IBM would respond. The mainframe giant had dominated computing for decades, but its initial efforts to make a viable microcomputer had fallen flat. That changed when Bill Lowe and Dan Estridge set out to develop a micro outside the usual IBM bureaucracy. Just twelve months later, in August 1981, they unveiled the IBM Personal Computer (5150). The PC was made from off-the-shelf components with a custom IBM BIOS. Though it could run the popular CP/M operating system, it came packaged with BASIC and a new disk operating system from Microsoft. The early 5150s were a high-priced competitor to the 8-bit micros of the day, but IBM quickly iterated…

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Apple Macintosh LC III

The Macintosh LC III is the (not surprisingly) third version of the LC computer introduced in October 1990. The original LC was part of a trio of low-cost Macintosh computers intended to challenge the growing dominance of PCs and also stand up against the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST. The low-cost trio included the Classic, the LC, and the IIsi. The Classic carried on the original Macintosh form factor, replacing the venerable Macintosh SE, and the Macintosh IIsi was a scaled-down Macintosh II. But the LC fit nicely between the two. In its small pizza-box case, it included many of the characteristics of the Macintosh II family, including color graphics, but offered limited expandability. I attended college during the early…

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Apple Macintosh 512K

In January 1984, Steve Jobs triumphantly unveiled Macintosh. An “insanely great” computer for the rest of us. And while the original Macintosh was amazing, it also struggled to complete basic tasks. Limited to 128K of RAM and a single 400K floppy drive, the computer was a contradiction, with state-of-the-art software and limited hardware. The Apple IIe (with 64K of RAM) was Apple’s most popular product when Macintosh was released. But the Mac’s bitmapped graphics and robust operating system devoured memory. Jobs was committed to keeping the original Mac at 128K of RAM to control costs. Burrell Smith knew it was a trivial matter to replace the 4264 DRAM chips with 41256 chips instead, and he surreptitiously modified the logic board…

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Apple Macintosh SE SuperDrive

Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985.  In a now-famous boardroom brawl, Jobs was outmaneuvered by his chosen CEO, John Sculley.  Directing the Macintosh team had been Jobs’ most meaningful accomplishment to date, but Jobs and the team were exhausted by the rush to launch the Mac in 1984.  Exhaustion, coupled with Apple’s management confusion, led most of the original team to leave Apple to pursue other interests.  John Sculley knew the Apple II line was far from state-of-the-art and would not sustain the company much longer.  He also recognized the genius of Macintosh.  Though he resisted lowering its price (solidifying its reputation as an impressive but expensive computer), he did support enhancing the Macintosh to ensure its…

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Apple iMac DV (G3)

During the mid-1990s, Apple’s products were largely derivative and uninspired. John Sculley ended his ten years as CEO in 1993, and Michael Spindler did considerable damage during his two-and-half-year run. Profits were crashing, and by 1995, Apple had reached its revenue peak. Not surprisingly, the introduction of Windows 95 magnified the company’s problems. Apple was desperate for new ideas. Gil Amelio stumbled but did his best to save the company when he stepped in as CEO in 1996. One of his first actions was to authorize the development of a new low-end computer. But it took the historic return of Steve Jobs in 1997 to turn this project into a seminal success. I was transitioning out of my early IT…

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Apple Macintosh (128K)

Apple’s Macintosh computer changed the trajectory of technology. The hobbyist systems of the late ‘70s had grown into the gaming and productivity platforms of the early ‘80s. IBM focused the industry when it debuted its PC in 1981, but Apple hoped to upend the definition of the personal computer with the Macintosh. I used an original Macintosh at my first job. In 1988, I was a teenager working for a boutique furniture store. The Mac was a cool but limited computer housed in a small office shed behind the store. While the owner had a newer Macintosh Plus at home, I used the original Macintosh to make product labels and price lists with the connected ImageWriter II printer. Many websites,…

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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…

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Apple IIɢs

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…

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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…

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Apple Macintosh SE/30

I suppose I should thank YouTube’s recommendation algorithm for getting this started. Sometime in 2018, I ran across several vintage computer repair videos that got me thinking about the great computers of the past. The videos both scratched a nostalgic itch and fed a need. I’d been looking for a hobby to get my mind off the daily grind, but I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t feel silly or uninteresting. Then I saw YouTubers explaining and repairing computers I’d spent countless hours hunched over in my youth and many others I only saw in magazines. As these things go, a few videos turned into a series of weekend binges, and before I knew it, I was on eBay bidding…

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