Some Apple collectors gather one of every Mac, iPod or iPhone, while others specialize in portables or all-in-ones. Then there are the outliers, the super-collectors who search out the incredibly rare items most people never get a chance to see.
“I’m always on the hunt,” says Henry Plain, a California man who specializes in tracking down impossible-to-find Mac prototypes.
Plain owns some of the rarest, most unusual Apple machines ever produced. These are the speed bumps, works in progress or developer’s editions that the secretive Cupertino company never intended for outside eyes. His vast knowledge of Apple’s production gave him a role in facilitating the sale of the Storage Wars-esque Macintosh collection of Marion Stokes that came to light last month. I like to think of him as Prototype Man.
What’s in Plain’s amazing Apple menagerie? Transparent versions of the Macintosh SE and PowerBook 140. A Mac mini with a built-in iPod dock. Prototypes of the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (TAM), the Power Mac G4 Cube and iDevices too numerous to mention. Even to other collectors — and I have a Mac Museum in my house — his inventory is crazy-impressive.