Macintosh M0001 (128k)

The first in a new line of computers, later called the 128k, but originally just “Macintosh“, this is the computer that really started the revolution in 1984. An appliance-like machine, not intended for tinkerers, but to remain sealed, the Mac project was guided primarily by Steve Jobs. Famously created by a talented team in a remote building flying a pirate flag, this little box really did change the world.

My first commission, this unit came from a sell-off of Syd Bolton’s Ontario, Canada PC Museum after he passed. When I first got it, it would power up, but the floppy drive was missing, and after a couple starts the screen stayed blank and the happy chime wouldn’t play. I started with the usual suspects, re-capping the logic board and re-soldering the flyback transformer, but to no avail. Finally I swapped in my own Mac Plus logic board… and the unit booted right up. Culprit found.

I replaced a few chips on the original logic board but continued to find no signs of life, so after months, finally found a replacement board on eBay for $45. It was sold as original, but turned out to have a (fairly expert) 512k upgrade soldered on. While I waited for it to arrive, it was time for a gentle retro-bright soak in the sun — a little liquid peroxide and a lot of hot water rendered a consistent look everywhere…except the space bar.

After-market 512k upgrade

When the logic board was replaced and the system was stable, I set out to do some burn in… and found the picture deteriorating after an hour or so of run time. A replacement flyback was required, which I pillaged from a parts machine, along with a floppy drive — although I needed to buy a new mounting bracket online for around $20. Finally the machine was happy with extended run time.

I lubricated floppy drive — a little different on the old 400k drives — and cleaned the heads. The client sent a keyboard and mouse he found online. The mouse turned out to be for an Apple IIC, so I traded him for my own spare mouse, and I had a complete, mostly original unit that functioned fully!

Building a boot disk was the next challenge. I have a cache of old System disks from my youth, but I didn’t want to ship those away. With only a single floppy drive, a lot of disk swapping would be in order, so I leveraged my Floppy-Emu and my own restored Mac Plus to set-up a 400k floppy that had a bare System and MacPaint and MacWrite on it, with about 4k to spare.

As you can see in the pictures above, the screen size was initially a little bigger than stock. Adjustment proved difficult, since the pot had crumbled with age. Eventually I managed to shrink it a little with a carefully carved stick (a scary experience that prompted me to buy some plastic adjustment tools!)

The M0001, and the parts machine I drew from each cost me $20, and with parts bought online, the project cost was roughly $115, a solid new cardboard box and shipping cost $100. The client provided an Apple IIc and Apple IIGS, both in need of service, in trade for the commission. Whether or not I came out ahead has yet to be seen…

This video shows the unit in action (before screen adjustment and mouse swap) along-side some audio from the original tutorial cassette that shipped with the Mac:

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