Apple Macintosh Plus  
Written by AnubisTTP on 2006-09-24  


The Macintosh Plus was released in 1986, shortly after Steve Jobs , one of the founders of Apple Computer, was exiled from the company due to 'questionable design views'. Steve Jobs had saddled the original Macintosh 128 with a tiny amount of ram and no hard drive; he felt that the sound of a hard drive spinning would detract from the overall ascetics of the machine. As an end result, the original Macintosh, while quite attractive in appearance compared to it's competitors, was not very useful as a computer. The Plus was a stopgap attempt to rectify the situation, it had one megabyte of ram, compared to the original Macintosh's 128 kilobytes of ram; a huge amount of memory for the time. In fact, the Plus was one of the few computers of the era that had more ram than mass storage; the Plus still had no hard drive, only a single 800K floppy drive was available for secondary storage. Despite this, it was the first Mac that was actually usable, and vast quantities of them were made and sold.


Apple Macintosh Plus personal computer, normal operation.

The unit pictured above is shown with an Apple HD20 external hard drive. The HD20 was the first Macintosh hard drive released by Apple, and could store 20 megabytes of data, a very large amount for the time. The original Mac 128 did not have a SCSI port, so the HD20 is designed to connect to a floppy drive port. This made the drive sluggish compared to other computers, and required the use of special formatting software. A drive like the HD20 is practically mandatory to complete a vintage compact Mac setup, since the Plus and earlier Macs did not have internal drives.

A moment should be taken to mention the current situation regarding mice and keyboards. The Plus and earlier Macs used proprietary mouse and keyboard connectors and cannot take the more common ADB peripherals used by Apple machines of the late 80s and 90s. The special mice and keyboards, are often far harder to find than the computers themselves. There was also a separate, even rarer, numeric pad made for the early Macs. The numeric pad was inserted inline between the keyboard and the host computer; it would mimic a keyboard when communicating to the computer, and a computer when communicating to the keyboard.

A note from the author about the origin of the example photographed here.

The first Mac Plus I ever owned I bought from an electronics swap meet when I was still in high school. This turned out to be a questionable life choice, as I did not have a ride home and I had to carry the thing around for the next two hours. The temperature was about 100 degrees that day, and by the time my ride showed up, my arms were about to fall off and I had a big white Mac Plus-shaped spot on the side of my arm from where the computer had blocked the sun. This, I think, is the ideal way to identify true collectors, they are those who are willing to have a Mac shaped silhouette burned into their body just to get their hands on another old computer.

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