RIP Adam Rosen: Remembering one of the most passionate Mac fans ever

By

Vintage Mac Museum
Rosen would turn down 80 percent of what was offered to him because he only wanted the important models. He also couldn't let his collection outgrow another living space.
Photo: Adam Rosen

Adam Rosen was happiest standing over an old Mac computer, all pulled apart with wires sticking out and components scattered across his kitchen table.

Rosen knew this part of him might never land him a wife. Who could appreciate a home where each room was a gallery of old working Apple computers?

This private Vintage Mac Museum lost its devoted docent on Aug. 31 when Rosen, 53, died from pancreatic cancer.

A memorial service at the campus chapel of his beloved alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be held Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.

Rosen was an Apple-certified consultant and IT specialist in the Boston area who also contributed to Cult of Mac. He wrote the MacRX column from 2010-2014, offering readers advice on everything from common startup problems to easy-to-understand tips on transferring data from one machine to another.

Adam Rosen thought Performas ‘sucked’

Vintage Mac Museum's Adam Rosen
Adam Rosen.
Photo courtesy Robert Rosen

He loved Apple design and was especially fond of Macs the user could work on and upgrade themselves.

However, Rosen was a specific kind of collector: He only cared about the most important Macs.

That meant no Performas.

“They sucked,” he said.

“This is our generation’s version of collecting vintage cars,” Rosen told Cult of Mac in 2017. “The car for so many people was the center of American life. You souped it up and it defined you. You are preserving that part of your identity. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, the importance of collecting.

“In a way, it’s nice when Apple is done with a product because then it belongs to us.”

The Vintage Mac Museum

His Vintage Mac Museum was only open to visitors online. He had about 100 working machines with all the software and peripheral devices. Every operating system was represented. It started with one computer, which he bought at an MIT swap meet in 2001.

Soon, they piled up in his kitchen. Within a few years, Rosen had Macs in two of the three bedrooms in his house, part of the living room and attic. That’s where he stored another 100 for parts.

“He loved all of these things that were very optimistic and utopian, like Star Trek or science fiction by Isaac Asimov,” his best friend, Jill Susarrey, said. “One of the things with Apple is that the design was human-friendly and it integrated with our lives much like the way the tech blends in on Star Trek.

“One complaint he had was that more people could not afford what he saw as these beautiful machines.”

Susarrey said that while Rosen’s work supported small business clients using modern computers, he was always willing to help individuals with more esoteric problems involving classic machines. He helped an author whose writing stalled in 1993 recover a project from a stack of floppy disks. One woman had lost her husband, and Rosen helped her retrieve old emails they had exchanged.

“He was very sensitive about some of the more nonsensical asks,” Susarrey said. “He kept ancient computers working for people who could not afford a new one.”

Adam Rosen: A longtime Mac fan

Vintage Mac Museum
The Vintage Mac Museum has about 100 machines that run on every operating system ever issued by Apple.
Photo: Adam Rosen

Rosen grew up in Long Island and became interested in Apple when he saw the original “1984” Macintosh commercial his senior year in high school. His roommate at MIT owned a Mac. And from that point on, there was no other computer Rosen would rather use.

He graduated from MIT in 1988 with a degree in physics. Additional coursework in acoustics, computer programming and circuit design led him to a job as an engineer with the Bose Corp. He later worked in a recording studio before starting Oakbog Professional Services in 2006.

“His degree was in physics but he had an incredible background,” his father, Robert Rosen, said. “This whole Mac thing, Steve Jobs, Jony Ive, this is what he loved. After he died, I sat down and read every single thing he wrote on his website. I was blown away by how much effort, time and care he put into this. This was a real labor of love for him.”

Adam Rosen’s family plans to find a new home for his vintage Macs. For now, you can see them as he lovingly displayed them here.