A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

[Retrocomputing: Why Bother?] Witness Me On My Way to Machalla, Turtlenecked and Beige!

(Part 1 of ahh.. we will see!)

Well a thing happened on a week where it was very handy for me to have extra money.

  I got a mysterious box in the mail.  A large box.  A massive box.  A Something Awful Goon/Facebook Friend/IRC pal messaged me just as I got up to check my email that there was a box on my back porch.  And that I could guess who it was from.

  So after opening a box to open another box and pulled it out, what was in the box?  (Not Gyneth's head.)

A gift unasked for but sent nonetheless!  No cables or peripherals or software but.. its a 68000 series black and white Macintosh. Otherwise known as the bane of my high school vocational electronics course existence.  I swear I spent more time writing and making diagrams of the course projects than I did actually doing said projects.  It was very frustrating!

Let's see who it was from, eh?
Ah.  The infamous insane woman known and feared by Something Awful goons who really want their retro stuff NOW as Acid Police amongst other nom de plumes.  Anyone who has ever gotten anything from this mad pot fueled retrofan knows many wonderful if somewhat frightening things can be found within her packages.  And somehow she remembered my appreciation for the mother of one of the main characters from the first Gundam Build Fighters series.  DAWWW!  :3

The top shows this was owned by a Massachusetts company.  Also some minor crack damage to one of the top vents.  No big deal.  It was free and possibly free to Acid originally.  Outside of retro computer dorks who would want a 1986-87 made computer that while 2600 bucks in that era's money, is still merely a single 800K floppy drive 68000 CPU 9" black and white screened computer with nothing to actually make it do anything?  And it is one of the early models being beige and not the light grey the later releases and follow up SE models used.  That or it just got really dirty and yellowed either at the company it was at or an electronics recycling place.

One side has a pair of "programmer buttons" that let said people do development type work on the machine.  Interrupt what is going on, or Reset.

The other side has what is presumably the company's information code they put on to protect their expensive computer from being stolen easily.  And below it is an 8 dollars shipped pickup for my retro computer game collection.  

The back shows us we have what is presumably a 1 megabyte of RAM machine.  The battery compartment which I presume is for a clock/calendar function is nice and empty so no exploded battery goop like a number of my Robotix building kits have.  On the bottom we have our SCSI Hard Disk port, mouse, modem, printer, and all that malarkey.  Thankfully it uses normal modern PC power plugs so a quick rummage found my extra one so I can test it and at least see if it powers up!
(Otherwise it would be 13 bucks at Staples, or 20!!! at Wal Mart for another one.  20 bucks would get me some fun toys or a DVD or something.)

 In the words of Sinistar: I LIVE.  I HUNGER.  

Screen seems to work fine, it seems to want a disk to eat, it seems to want a mouse.  It makes noise so the speaker works.  I gave the screen a little microfiber screen wipe cleaning so it will be pretty.

  Well BALLS.  I guess its time to research and ebay hunt!

  For this generation of Mac I need one of the earliest styled keyboards which used a phone jack styled connector, and a serial port mouse.  

Some talk on IRC and ebay hunting netted me shipped what should solve the input deficiencies.  All for about the same price as a Star Wars Millennium Falcon kit I have been wanting for months.  (Snap tite with core painting done.  Big. Would be great for tabletop gaming!)  Or 15 bucks less than a different place had for a big construct your own Robot kit with motors and app driven programming.  (On sale!  Half off!  If it is still there in a week or two it will be mine dammit!  IT MUST BE MIIIINE!)

But what about software?  Well some research lead me to the obvious, especially given the age of old computers and how even my beloved Atari 800's 1050 drive is beginning to act up:  FLASH SOLUTIONS.

There are various solutions available for nearly every old computer and the old Macintosh machines are no different!  And while in most cases I am totally cool with just buying my games legit and playing on an emulator, the EXPERIENCE of playing on an actual Macintosh is one of those things that matters, a lot like the mighty Vectrex game console.  And given how much of a pain and expense getting an actual SCSI Hard Disk for the machine would be and how rare Mac software is a flash solution is probably the only sane way.  And in the long run as disks and the machinery starts dying maybe the ONLY way.

http://www.bigmessowires.com/floppy-emu/  I am lead here and well?  As I have no genuine need for Apple II family compatibility (Or at this point space for more computers anyhow!  As is I am thinking about putting Frankenstein away and just doing some tweaks to make my Windows 98SE rig properly run whatever DOS I don't feel like just running in DOSBOX.  http://www.philscomputerlab.com/ms-dos-mode-tutorials.html  has some solid instructions for this.) so I get the cheaper Model A version and the acrylic enclosure so it looks classy.

Oh wallet.  One day we will save money.  But we don't go into debt and we possibly have a 20,000 dollar lot of land once two town probate courts and other town halls explain and get their act together.  But until that day the courage of 41 year old manchildren who still buy Transformers and who watch pastel horsie cartoons shall not go into debt for crap.  Like not touching sweets and pastries and candies since one final piece of cheesecake on Christmas day.  WE ARE STRONG.  (Though exceptions shall be made for a single box of conversation hearts and either jelly beans or a Cadbury Cream Egg.  Only one of each though.)  Also luckily there hasn't been a lot of hobby gaming or toys I have genuinely wanted.  (Or ebay offers accepted. It and holiday pay is the ONLY reason I can do this so fast!)

  Obviously I can buy some low storage SD cards myself and I have a card reader already.  I even found some DOS formatted lower density floppy disks I could possibly use on the Mac as well.  Now I haven't opened the machine up yet to give it a dusting and to see if it is just 1 megabyte of RAM or if it has been upgraded with more of said RAM or a CPU upgrade but I will check it over the next week or so as I await the components I need to actually make use of the machine.  (And given the gifter, the possibility of there being marijuana or anime porn hidden within it.  Acid is.. SPECIAL.  Kind of like the retrogeek version of Tara Strong.  And she is so getting a gift or two from GOG or Steam sooner rather than later!)

  Besides, it is always good to give it a good compressed air dusting internally and check for solder or capacitor issues anyhow.  Plus I can then give the dirty case a good Magic Eraser scrubbing and not have to worry about water and muck getting onto old and sensitive electronics.  And part of me wants to maybe even repaint the case instead of Retr0brighting it.  I don't have any UV lights nor the massively strong hydrogen peroxide cream one needs to restore old plastics.

  So whenever I update this little project again we will see if the new components work, if their interfaces to the computer work, or what is in this little box of Jobsian 1.0 joy.  (Or was his douchey ass kicked out by then?  Don't really know.  Don't really care.  Steve Jobs was a tool.  One incredibly good at marketing and getting people to do what he wanted them to, but still a tool.  Unless you held stock from the 90s when the company was in the toilet.  Then he came back and made you stupid money and is your lord and savior you 1%er you! )

 Until then imagine me as Megatron and the Mac as the Orson Welles voiced planet that eats planets:

  The oblivion is of course my wallet.  Oh well, its a butt ton better than all the money idiots wasted on Powerball!  Worse comes to worse I can probably make 50 bucks over all the cash spent via eBay flipping.  But we all know me.  I want to play GAMES on this bugger!  In all their black and white 9" screened glory!

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I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/