All the Great Features of Early Macintosh Computers That You’ve Forgotten About

early macintosh computers

Are you a lover of vintage computers, looking for more info on early Macintosh computers?

Perhaps you’ve still got an old Apple Macintosh stowed away in your attic. Have you considered that it might be worth quite a bit of money?

According to a recent feature on CNBC Money, that old Apple computers might be worth up to a million dollars! While the rare Apple computers from the 1970s are more likely to attract higher collector prices, we’re going to take a look at the vintage Macintosh line from the 1980s. Even Macintosh models from the 1990s can still sell for several thousand dollars today.

We’re going to cover the first Macintosh computers that made a name for Apple. We’ll be covering the Macintosh 128K, II, Portable, and Classic, so keep reading!

Macintosh 128K

Previously, you asked, “What are old Apple computers?” We covered these 1970s forerunners in a recent blog post. Now we’re going to take a look at the next chapter in the Apple computer timeline, and it starts with the Macintosh 128K.

The introductory retail price was $2,495, with the 128K launch supported by a “1984”-inspired Super Bowl spot directed by Ridley Scott. A built-in CRT monitor sat inside the beige case, with a handle at the top. A keyboard and mouse were also included.

Also referred to as the original Macintosh, this machine was introduced in January 1984 and was discontinued in October 1985. Weighing in at 16.5lbs, the Macintosh 128K had a floppy size of 400K, with a manual inject.

The ROM size was 64K, with Mac OS software versions 1.0 through 7.0.1P supported. No hard drive was present on the Macintosh 128K.

RAM was fixed at 0.125MB, but third-party upgrades could increase the system RAM to 512K. The Mackintosh 128K required 60 watts of power, with ports included for a printer, modem, and speakers. The processor on the logic board was the Motorola 68000, 8, with a 16, 8 data path.

Succeeded by the Macintosh 512K, this model was originally released as the Apple Macintosh. The release of the 512K model triggered the rebrand.

Macintosh II

This model was the first Macintosh computer that could be displayed in color. The basic unit, when bundled with a monitor ranged from $5,498 to $7,145, dependent on monitor size, specs, and optional display card.

The early Macintosh II by Apple entered the market in March 1987 and was withdrawn in January 1990. This 24lb machine came with two 800K floppy drives, featuring auto inject functionality.

The internal hard drive size ranged from 40-80MB, via SCSI. Software ROM size was 256K on the Macintosh II, with Mac OS versions 2.0 through 7.5.5 supported.

8x 30-pin SIMM RAM slots allowed 1-20 MB of memory to be installed. Certain RAM configurations required a SuperDrive upgrade installation.

The maximum power was 230 watts, with 2x ADB ports for a keyboard and mouse. Additional ports also supported a printer, modem, and speakers. On the logic board, the processor was the Motorola 68020, 16, with a 32, 16 data path and 0.25K of L1 cache.

A year and a half post-release, the Macintosh IIx was released with a better processor. A more compact model, the Macintosh IIcx lowered the price more in line with the original Macintosh II offering.

Macintosh Portable

What were old macs like? Big and bulky until the Macintosh Portable arrived on the scene. As the first battery-powered computer in the range, the Portable created a buzz that was never quite matched by the sales numbers.

Unveiled in September 1989, this early laptop was finally retired in October 1991. Weighing in at 15.8lbs, a 1.44MB auto floppy drive was installed, along with a SCSI hard drive of up to 40MB. As with the Macintosh II, the software ROM size was 256K, with Mac OS 6.0.5 – 7.5.5 supported.

The single MB of RAM on the logic board was expandable to 8MB total via one slot.

Just 5 watts of power was required, using a lead-acid battery. One ADB port was available, for pairing with a peripheral, such as a mouse, with an HDI-15 video port also onboard. Other ports included printer, modem, and speakers, as with other models.

The CPU on the logic board of the Portable was a 68000, 16, with a 16, 16 data path.

The folding mono LCD screen was an impressive feature but increased the cost and weight. The low-light performance of the display proved to be a significant drawback to the Macintosh Portable.

Macintosh Classic

Of all the old Macintosh computers, the Classic was the first to retail under $1,000. Since the featured specifications weren’t radically new and impressive, it was mainly the lower price that made this model stand out.

The Macintosh Classic arrived in October 1990, and production stopped in September 1992. It weighed 16lbs and came with a 1.44MB auto floppy drive, like the Macintosh Portable. Software ROM size received a boost to 512K, running Mac OS 6.0.7 – 7.5.5.

The 1MB of memory on the logic board could be augmented via 2x 30-pin SIMM slots. The maximum installed RAM could total 4MB, requiring the 1MB Memory Expansion Card and two SIMM connectors. 

Powered by 76 watts, a 3.6V lithium battery was also installed. A single ADB port was available on the Macintosh Classic, with an additional Omni mic port. As with the other models, the printer, modem, and speaker ports remained.

Like the Macintosh 128K, the processor on the logic board was a Motorola 68000, 8, with 16, 8 data path. The lack of a new CPU or higher RAM failed to impress critics, though the Classic proved popular for education. This was mainly due to the lower price and wide software availability.

Only one question remains: What are old Apple products still doing collecting dust in your attic?

Early Macintosh Computers

We’ve highlighted the early Macintosh computers from Apple that paved the way for the PowerBooks and PowerPCs. Want to know all about the 8bit and 16bit computers that dominated the 1980s?

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