Remember the old Mac Plus (pictured at right)? This compact Mac released in 1986 was on the market longer than any other model Apple made; nearly 5 years. This Mac originally shipped with 1MB or RAM,built in 9" black and white display, 8MHz 68000, no internal hard drive, and one 800 K floppy drive. The Mac Plus is capable of running System 3.2 through 7.5.5, and can be upgraded to 4 MB of RAM.
Under normal operation, the Mac Plus was nearly silent, except for floppy reads and writes. It accomplished this through a combination of no internal hard drive, and no fan (just like the Cube and iMacs). While these machines originally sold for $2,600, you can easily pick one up today for $5 or less. Just go to local rummage.garage sales, check eBay or watch the classified ads. There are still thousands of these things out there, finding one shouldn't be too difficult.
This old Mac is still very useful, if you get an external hard drive (or Iomega Zip drive with the right software), and the 4 MB of RAM. While this Mac can be run entirely off of floppy disks, swapping floppies can quickly become cumbersome. I recommend going for System 6.0.8 on the Mac Plus because it uses little RAM and hard drive space, but still has tons of software available for it on the web (links below).
|RAM:||1-4MB (4 slots; 30-pin SIMMs)|
|Hard Drive:||None (SCSI port)|
|Systems:||3.2 - 7.5.5|
While the Mac Plus may only have an 8 Mhz CPU, it can still handle older applications and games like a champ. While you will not see stunningly 3-D graphics, or digital surround sound, you will get vintage gameplay, something newer games can't give you. Furthermore, with a copy of Microsoft Word or MacPaint, and an older printer, you can actually make that Mac Plus into a word processor or desktop publishing workhorse. Who needs a 1 GHz CPU just to write a letter anyway?
Not only can you run older programs and games, but you can also get on the web with your Mac Plus. Using the links provided below, you can get that Plus surfing the web in no time. Some people have even turned their old Mac Pluses into web servers, serving small personal websites on them!
Software is all and good, but what can you do with the hardware? This mac has room for up to 4 MB of RAM, can be upgraded via third party cards, and has a full array of ports. Those ports include printer and modem serial ports, a mouse port, external floppy port, sound out, old style (looks like a telephone cord) eyboard port, and the first Mac to feature an external SCSI port. This SCSI port is most commonly used for external hard drives (mine is 20 MB), and sometimes Zip Drives, which are an excellent substitute to hard drives.
But, what to do if your Mac Plus doesn't work anymore, or if you buy one that turns out to be DOA? Many people have turned there Mac Pluses into Macquariums (see this page for an example). Or, if you don't want a Macquarium, you can turn it into something else such as a planter, lamp, or table. Just be careful, as those CRT displays can keep their charge for many years after being unplugged.
All in all, the Mac Plus is still a useful system. My recently acquired one is used for games, trying out old system (I have a System 3.2 startup floppy), and watching screensavers (what a great waste of time). They may be 16 years old, but they are still great machines.
- General Mac Plus sites
- Download Software
- System 6