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How to start a collection of classic Macs

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Collecting vintage Macs: My Macintosh Classic with matching ADB keyboard and mouse.
My Macintosh Classic with matching ADB keyboard and mouse.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

What makes people start collecting vintage Macs? There are many reasons. Some folks want to play abandoned games or use old software on original hardware. Some simply don’t know how to transfer files, and thus keep their old machines as a giant backup, just in case.

I collect old Macs because I care deeply about history. I want to have an informed perspective on the past so I can better understand trends of user-interface design and the evolution of technology.

My first vintage computer was a Macintosh Classic I bought on eBay for about $80. After lifting it out of its shipping box, I reached around the back to flip on the power switch and watch it boot. I loved hearing the whir of the hard drive, the fans humming and the delightful blip!-blip!-blip! noise the disk drive made when reading a floppy.

Apple computers are highly collectible. They span the entire history of personal computing. The company’s unwavering design philosophy, always pushing ease of use, means even the oldest and weirdest Apple computers are never hard to figure out. The historical lineup spans all different kinds of form factors and designs. Not to mention, they look rad.

So, you want to collect old Apple computers, too? Where do you start, and what do you want? Here’s a quick guide to buying classic Macs. These tips should get you started and help you avoid common pitfalls. (If you want to go even deeper, we also provide some links to further reading on the subject.)

Today in Apple history: The elusive Macintosh Color Classic II ships

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The Macintosh Color Classic II never shipped in the U.S., which makes it hard to find today.
The Color Classic II never shipped in the U.S., which makes it hard to find today.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

October 10: Today in Apple history: The elusive Macintosh Color Classic II ships October 10, 1993: Apple ships its Macintosh Color Classic II, the last of the 9-inch compact Macs.

Also known as the Performa 275, the Color Classic II will eventually become something of a collector’s item, since Apple released it only in Canada, Asia and Europe.

Today in Apple history: Mac Centris 660av is an audio-visual masterpiece

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The Macintosh Centris 660av was astonishingly ahead of most rival computers at the time.
The Macintosh Centris 660av was astonishingly ahead of most rival computers at the time.
Image: Apple

July 29: Today in Apple history: Mac Centris 660av is an audio-visual masterpiece July 29, 1993: Apple releases the Macintosh Centris 660av, a computer packed with innovative audio-visual features. These include an AppleVision monitor with microphone and speakers, and a port that can works as a modem with a telecom adapter. It also comes with the first Apple software to recognize and synthesize speech.

At the relatively low price of $2,489, this was one of the first great affordable multimedia Macs.

Artist uses vintage Mac to re-create Flatiron Building, one pixel at a time

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Wahyu Ichwandardi image
Imagine the hours it took to draw this.
Photo: Wahyu Ichwandardi

Using a 1984-era Macintosh 128K and various retro tools, Pinot W. Ichwandardi painstakingly crafted a beautiful pixel art drawing of one of New York City’s most stunning skyscrapers.

Ichwandardi created his stunning image of the Flatiron Building one pixel at a time, a process he calls “pixel knitting” due to its time-intensive nature. But the incredibly detailed artwork isn’t even the point.

“The most rewarding thing from it is the process,” the 50-year-old designer told Cult of Mac.

It just goes to show that even a Mac that’s nearly 40 years old can still be used to make amazing pieces artwork. And you can buy a print of Ichwandardi’s Flatiron Building art — printed on a vintage dot-matrix printer, naturally!

Buying used Macs on eBay is YouTube gold [Cult of Mac Magazine 332]

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Luke Miani might be eBay's ultimate Mac bargain hunter.
Luke Miani might be eBay's ultimate Mac bargain hunter.
Cover: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Luke Miani isn’t afraid to take a header when it comes to buying used Macs on eBay. He’ll scoop up piles of Apple laptops in various states of disrepair, then swap out parts or fix them up as needed. His ultimate goal? Scoring a sweet deal — and dishing out some serious knowledge.

Miani dutifully documents his eBay adventures, then shares the fruits of his labor with a growing audience on YouTube. We talked with Miani about his operation, and you can get the scoop in this week’s free issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. Also inside: All the latest Apple news, plus helpful how-tos for iPhone, iPad and AirPods Pro owners.

Contraband Apple II computers still power old Soviet museum

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entrance to the Lenin Museum
The Apple II has been a faithful comrade to the Lenin Museum.
Photo: mvstang/Flickr CC

The Soviet Union may have collapsed. But Vladimir Lenin, the country’s first leader, lives on, thanks to an audiovisual show still running on a small network of Apple II computers at a museum outside Moscow.

The Apple II is as revered by geeks as Lenin is by nostalgic Communists. Both proved revolutionary. And while the carefully edited story of Lenin might seem interesting to museum-goers, the unvarnished tale of the vintage Apple tech is more compelling.

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

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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.

How I kept my iMac running for a decade

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Believe it or not, this old iMac still has a lot of life left in it.
Believe it or not, this old iMac still has a lot of life left in it.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Yesterday, I wrote about the massive conceptual difference between Mac and iPad, and mentioned that I still use a 2010 iMac. Today, I thought I’d explain how I managed to keep it going for so long.

Spoiler: It was pretty easy, although it required some simple home surgery from time to time. The only sad part is that the current lineup of iMacs almost certainly won’t last as long, at least not without professional attention.

Here’s how I kept my Mac running for a decade.

Hacker knits Mac ROM scarves to boot up your fashion game

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Mac ROM scarves
Code to keep your neck warm.
Photo: KnitYak

You could safely assume that computer hackers and people who knit have little to talk about. One activity is clearly analog and seemingly old-fashioned while the other pre-occupies the mind of a tech geek.

Fabienne Serriere blows up that assumption by being both. She combines the two rather different activities to make eye-catching scarves imprinted with Mac ROM code.