Episode 4: Big Mac: One Man’s Obsession With Vintage Apple Computers

Adam Rosen is an Apple Consultant and collects Macintosh computers, software and Apple nostalgia. He is curator of the Vintage Macintosh Museum which he runs out of his home outside Boston.

Our discussion covers rare items in his collection, and photos are from his website, VintageMacMuseum.com Adam also speaks more broadly about the Apple ethos and the future of the Macintosh platform.

Restoring legacy Apple systems to a functioning state is a labor of love for Adam, he writes:

“I inherited two models just about three years back, both of which powered up but that’s about it. Neither one contained a working floppy drive, hard drive, or keyboard. The last two items are (of course) non-standard parts. At the rapid rate of about a half day of effort every 18 months, I’ve ambled through a slow odyssey that’s included buying two keyboards, an external Apple ProFile drive, and a rare Lisa X/ProFile hard drive adapter, in order to get a (mostly) working system.”

Read more about his Apple Lisa experience at VintageMacMuseum.com

His collection was bolstered by a donation from an ailing collector, Joe Story, who lamented, “I just want to see it go to a good home.”

“A few weeks ago Joe learned that he had pancreatic cancer. It’s incurable, and he doesn’t have long to live. Understandably, this brings focus and clarity to one’s efforts. Along with attending to personal matters Joe felt it was important that his archive of vintage Apple items go to a place where they could be appreciated and enjoyed, rather than recycled or otherwise disposed of.”

Read more about Joe Story’s contribution to The Vintage Mac Museum

Fighting space constraints, Adam has started collecting Apple miniatures.

“As an active collector I suffer from the ailment which eventually affects most people who have this hobby: I am running out of space. Two bedrooms, half my living room (home office) and half the attic are taken up by Mac equipment, spare parts, memorabilia, etc.. I don’t want to move, but the collecting urge still burns hot, so I’ve started to downsize my Macs.”

Read more about the “Miniature Mac Museum” on VintageMacMuseum.com

Adam’s collection includes several repurposed Macs by Jake Harms, a converted Macintosh/aquarium or “Macquarium,” and iLamp built from a iMac G4 computer.

Read more about the iLamp on VintageMacMuseum.com or JakeHarms.com

“In 2006 Apple stunned the world (again) by announcing they were going over to the Dark Side: the Macintosh was going to switch to Intel processors. Apple had been secretly compiling Mac OS X on Intel chips ever since it’s evolution from NeXTstep, and the G5 marked the end of the line for the PowerPC Macintosh. To allow developers to prepare their software for the change, Apple provided special Macs with Pentium-based motherboards inside PowerMac G5 cases for testing purposes. Called Developer Transition Systems (DTS), these Trojan horse “PowerMacs” came with a special developer version of Mac OS X 10.4.1 for Intel and were leased, not sold, to developers. The mothership required all DTS units to be returned after one year, so very few of these hybrid Macs survive outside the gates of Cupertino. This DTS is in working condition but does not have a copy of 10.4.1 for Intel.”

Read more about the rare items in Adams collection on VintageMacMuseum.com

As part of his consulting work, Adam maintains vintage systems and software to perform file transfers for clients who can no longer open their old files:

“The Cube contains my repository of pre-OS X Classic Mac software, over 7GB worth of vintage word processors, graphics programs, database software and utilities. Some of this is installed on the other workhorse machines – the Mac Plus, Quadra 840av and PowerBook Wallstreet – with the remainder accessible when needed. The Cube also contains a shared folder within which I copy the elements for file transfer and conversion work – original files, intermediate stages, and final versions.

With this set of machines I can read and copy files from nearly any Mac generation and common storage format – floppy disk, hard drive, Zip and Jaz, MO cartridges, etc.. Really old files from the Mac Plus get relayed to the Quadra via LocalTalk, then from there to the Cube via Ethernet. The Wallstreet handles most of the file conversions, and once work is completed files can be copied to my Mac Pro to burn to CD or left on the Cube for direct access via FTP.”

Read the original post about the G4 Cube on VintageMacMuseum.com or visit Adam’s consulting page at OakBog.com

Adam left us with a word of truth for all collectors:
“Leave enough room – be careful: it starts to add up quickly…”

All photos property of Adam Rosen