Day 1491 – Spring Cleaning
Finally. I’m finally getting rid of as much of the crap i’ve been hauling around. Annette and i don’t own all that much, but we’re going to lighten the load as much as possible before the summer begins in the banana belt of Idaho.
Three of the first things to be tackled will be my old computers. The oldest is a Quadra 840av. This was the first “Apple Workstation” i bought with my own money. I paid over $5,000 dollars for it from a retailer in Tom’s River, New Jersey. The 840av was a magnificent machine that, like most of what comes out of Apple, was ahead of its time. Well, sort of ahead of its time. It was the first computer i knew of to have S-video in and out, plus a host of other i/o offerings. The only down side was it cost a freakin’ fortune and was woefully under-powered.
After i got the machine home i learned that if i actually wanted to *use* all those AV bells and whistles i’d have to invest twice what i’d just paid in dedicated hardware and software. But if i had the money, and the clients, i could have put together the equivalent of a Quantel system for about 1/3rd the price. Back then the big thing was the Quantel “Harry.” Quantel was the gold standard, but people who did industrial videos found the 840AV with the requisite add-ons was a viable alternative that set the stage for desktop video.
One of the almost totally overlooked contributions of the 840AV was the internal design. The was the first computer designed to be modified by the end-user without needing any tools. The chassis could snap apart, the drives were on sleds, everything was easily accessible. In fact, the plastic chassis of the 840AV remains a work of casting art. It’s only fitting that it bears the signatures of the designers (click for a larger view). Find me another computer where one of the ribbon cables had a cast-in channel for it to run. This computer set the stage for the later tower Macintoshes that hinged open revealing unobstructed access to the motherboard.
The next computer to be dealt with is my old Power Computing 604e. Yes, this was from the dark days of Apple Computer… when the clones were created. I bought the 604e because it was cheaper than the equivalent Apple product, but mostly because the CPU was on a daughtercard that could be swapped out. Remember, this was a time when CPUs were one upping each other seemingly week by week. The last thing i wanted was to buy another computer with the CPU soldered to the motherboard.
Ironically the clones died off before a chip faster than the 604e was released, or maybe i stopped paying attention. Either way i never took advantage of the swappable CPU. I did add three large (for their day – huge) hard drives. The machine served me well and faithfully for many years and started right up, booting Mac OS 9.1, when i unboxed it the other day and plugged it in for the first time in over five years.
But now those computers are all disassembled, their metal sent to the recycler, their motherboards broken down into parts and re-boxed for hauling to either a special waste collection or just to sit on the shelf some more. The hard drives are still sitting on my kitchen table… i’m not sure what i want to do with them. Their SCSI drives and nearly all of the current server or NAS solutions use SATA drives. So, they’ll probably go back in a box… or maybe i’ll take them apart and make a collage out of the parts. Don’t know.