My Mac Plus arrived a couple of weeks ago. Ex University of Otago, Platinum, 2.5MB of RAM and in absolutely mint condition. Question became - can it be put to use?
First job was to give it a clean and remove those bloody cable locks from the keyboard and Mac. Both of those required splitting the keyboard and Mac to remove them from the inside. I needed to fix a couple of unresponsive keys while the keyboard was apart - strangely the switches are almost identical to the Apple II keyboards. Easy fix. Next, RAM. The Plus shipped with 1MB of RAM made up of 4x256k 30 pin simms. The most common upgrade was to take out two of the simms and put in 2x 1MB simms to give a total of 2.5MB (and cut a resister to tell the motherboard we have >1MB). A quick look on trademe found 2x Mac Classics which didn't work and were ex University of Auckland. $20 later I had 2x 1MB simms and a nice quiet 40MB SCSI drive. Upgraded the RAM in the Plus, adjusted the display a bit (small boost to the brightness cutoff, refocus and resized back to original size) and we were away.
The next trick was to locate a SCSI case as the Mac Plus just won't house an internal SCSI drive of that size or power draw. The power supply and cooling are right on the edge on that model. A work colleague of mine had an old SCSI case which he was just about to bin. Mount up the drive, re-learn SCSI termination basics and we were ready to go.
With the hardware done, it was a matter of figuring out the OS. It comes down to System 6 or System 7. In the end (after a fair bit of testing) - System 6 won out because of speed. It is an order of magnitude faster on that old 68000 hardware than System 7. Add in MultiFinder and you have a nice little co-operative multitasking computer with a huge software library at macintoshgarden.org
With that done, I have ended up with a very quiet, good looking, fast little computer which has one of the best keyboards I have used in a while - but probably one of the most average mice. Can't have it all. On the hard drive, I have MS Word 5.0, Clarisworks 2.1, Pagemaker 3.0, MacLander, Wolves, MacWrite Pro and lots of other little tools which time has forgotten. For me, MS Word 5.0 runs like a trooper. I have started to use the little Mac as a writing tool for some short story ideas I have - and I must say that I enjoy using it for that purpose. The screen and keyboard make you sit upright (as opposed to modern laptops which have you hunched over) and the sound, or lack of, makes for a nice quiet computing experience.
So I'm putting the Mac Plus to work as a word processor for the short term - lets see how I go using a machine manufactured in 1987, running an OS from 1991 with Word from the same era. So far, so good, but backing my work up onto 800k floppies makes me a little nervous... Go the plus!