The Low End Mac Mailbag

Wasteful Consumerism, iPhone Plus Apple TV, and Laurence Gartel on the Joy of Old Macs

Dan Knight - 2007.04.19

Old LaserWriter Pro vs. Wasteful Consumerism

Jean Lee writes:

Hi, my name is Jean.

The funny thing is I found the article [Satisfaction the Answer to Wasteful Consumerism] ironic, because I found something this weekend that was the answer to wasteful consumerism.

This past weekend I planned on buying a new laser printer for home use. However, I decided to go to storage to get some of my spring clothes when I found a box with my dad's old Apple LaserWriter Pro 630 in it. To my utter shock, I plugged the thing in and it worked. So I brought it back to my apt with the AsantéTalk box, enabled AppleTalk on my MacBook Pro, and hooked the printer up to my ethernet jack. Even more shocking was that my MacBook Pro recognized it!

The best part of the weekend was I didn't have to buy a laser printer, and I found it amusing that something old could be used again. The laser printer is a little slow when printing out my PowerPoint notes for school, but I can deal with it. Sure, it's not as fast as today's printers, but it's good enough for me.

The funny thing is the Apple toner is still inside my printer, but I will probably be needing a new toner soon. My father was amazed that "that old thing" still worked.

I guess the point of my story is that your article was right; I thought about purchasing a new laser printer and whether I really needed it after I found my old one. I guess just because it's a little slow it doesn't mean I have to waste $200 for a new printer whose toner cartridges probably wouldn't have the output this printer has with its toners.

In the end, I like using that old thing (it's from 1994) with my MacBook Pro.

Oh yeah, I have another question. Any suggestions in what to do with my green iMac? It has a busted hard drive. I've been using it as a stool, but I thought about disposing of it. What's your alternative to this?

The sad thing is that I wish old Macs could be as useful as my old printer . . . sigh.

-jean

Hi Jean,

Sometimes old hardware lasts a lot longer than expected. When I worked in publishing, we had several old Apple LaserWriter II models with well over a million impressions, and my HP LaserJet 2100TN survived about 8 years of heavy use. They used to build 'em like tanks!

When the HP finally gave out, I was amazed at how much printer I could buy for $200. The Brother HL-5250DL I ended up with is rated at 30 pages per minute, prints double-sided (my default setting), works on a network, and works with the classic Mac OS.

It's hard to make a recommendation for your green iMac without knowing a few more details. Hard drives are cheap, but installing them in G3 iMacs isn't especially easy. And there were two different "green" iMacs - the lime green tray loader (in 266 and 333 MHz versions) and the sage green slot loader (450 MHz).

All of the G3 iMacs are decent under the classic Mac OS, but if you're running Mac OS X, the slot-loaders have a clear advantage: They support 1 GB of RAM (vs. 256 MB), have a 100 MHz system bus (vs. 66 MHz), have better graphics processors, and include FireWire (except for the 350 MHz model).

Without knowing which iMac you have, how much RAM it has, and what you plan to run on it (which OS and which apps), I can't even begin to suggest whether it's work putting back into service or not.

Ballpark figures, if it is a sage model, $40-50 should buy a 120 GB or smaller hard drive (you run into problems if you pass the 128 GB mark), and $50 should give you 512 MB of RAM, which is adequate for OS X.

Dan

Hi Dan.

Thanks so much for responding. I guess this printer is a tank. It's probably the only thing from that long ago that is still useable. I was talking about with my dad; he was telling me that printer and those Macintosh II series cost several thousand dollars. I guess Macs were more expensive back in the 90s as compared to now. Not sure. That printer has gone through 3 Macs already, and that was in the 90s.

The iMac G3 I have is the group of Macs that came out after the turquoise iMac. It has a loading tray, and it was like $1,200 when I got it. If the hard drive is busted, I'd prolly have a hard time paying someone to replace it.

The thing is that computer is so slow now. I never put OS X on it, because by the time it came I bought my mirror door. It's not wireless capable and won't even run Tiger - from what my friend tells me. I remember buying all these external devices for it were getting so expensive, ha ha. I still have the external Zip drive, external Iomega CD drive, and my external 3.5 floppy disk drive!

I'm guessing the labor and parts are too much to bother? I'm no Mac tech.

Today for fun I made a "sit on me" sign. I guess I can use it as a chair.

-jean

Hi Jean,

You're right, it's probably not worth upgrading. Add a hard drive, enough RAM for OS X, and the cost of labor, and you can buy a better Mac for the money. I'm sure it's a real conversation piece as a chair.

Dan

iPhone Plus Apple TV Could Make a Great Hotel Computer

Michael Hammermeister writes:

Great article!

I have been musing along those lines myself. I loved my Velo and will love the iPhone for all the same reasons, many that you mentioned.

And yes, the other shoe is Apple TV. With larger hard drives and network mobility it becomes a road warrior's tool operational through your iPhone on any hotel/motel room TV.

But seriously, the last piece for my purchase is the way cool factor - and at 60 years being way cool gets harder and harder.

Sincerely,
mrh

Thanks for writing, Michael,

Yes, the cool factor will be a huge part of the iPhone's success. A preposterous number of high school and college students intend to buy one.

I'm intrigued by its potential. All the technology in such a small package! If Apple made the next gen iPod like an iPhone without the phone part, I'd get in line. And if they made one with a larger screen - say a 7" 800 x 1280 display - I'd want to be at the top of the list.

As it is, unless AT&T/Cingular buys Alltel, I'll be sticking with my Motorola cell phone and 60 GB iPod photo.

Dan

New Is Boring, So Back to the Old

Laurence Gartel writes:

Dan,

Good morning.

One of my shelves in my closet was just about to collapse so I had to remove all the software boxes, digital cameras, etc., etc. - some of which is over 15 + years old.

What wonderful treasures! Too bad the freakin' [Intel] iMac won't run any of it. Too bad Adobe has kicked everyone's ass so that nothing but their software is out there. It's the complete homogenization of society, as if it were a Stanlinist plot.

I'm wondering if you know where to purchase an old Mac IIci, or perhaps an 8100? While Photoshop CS3 is about to be released, I'm thinking to go backwards about 18 years and load up all my software and start again. Old is definitely new!

My greatest art work to date was produced in 1982 using analog systems. If you don't know who I am, I think you might find this note rather interesting, albeit humorous. "ART is not dependent on the latest technology but on the greatest active mind!"

Thanks for your attention.

All the Best,
Laurence Gartel
Digital Media Pioneer

Hi, Laurence, and thanks for writing!

I just popped over to Wikipedia (after visiting your website) to read that you helped pioneer digital art and have exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, have works at the Smithsonian, and taught Andy Warhol how to use an Amiga. Quite the resume!

My favorite source for older Mac gear is the Low End Mac Swap List, which we've been overseeing for almost 7 years now. You'll generally be buying from people who know and love the old gear.

Although I started out on a Mac Plus and later used an SE/30 in my work at ComputerLand of Grand Rapids (MI), I spent a good long time working with Quark XPress and FrameMaker doing interior book design on a Mac IIci. It was a real workhorse. That said, moving from a Quadra to a Power Mac was a revelation of just how much power the then-new CPU family offered.

May you go boldly into the past with whatever hardware you choose to use.

Dan

Dan,

A pleasure to meet you indeed.

Gotta love the Internet to find like minded people. Thank goodness we aren't concocting bombs and other forms of mass destruction. Yikes! Just happy geeks trying to get computer systems to work. - lol.

Absolut Gartel adI was going to send you some images in my last email but I thought if you saw an attachment, you would delete it. (I know I might.) So I held off till I heard from you. Thank you for writing back.

Yes. I've been around since the days of Nam June Paik and pioneering this field since the 70s. I'm not that old . . persay, I just started young. It's taken a lifetime, but the truth of the matter is, I could do more experimental things in the early days than you can now. Granted the printers of today have soured. I'd like to make "new/old" images and then transport them to the new HP machines.

Yes. I know of FrameMaker, early Quark, and I certainly remember ComputerLand. I'm in a quandary as to what to buy. I'm on a iMac G4, and it suits me just fine for everything. I've actually made theatrical release movies with iMovie. I have a love/hate relationship with Apple as much as anyone who has been with them for years.

The ol Mac Plus made great images, and many of the works I have created on that machine are included in my art history books. But going through my software, I have Bryce 2.0, Color It!, InfiniD, Stratavision, and every single Kai's Power Tools known to man. (None of it working on an iMac.)

I tried to load up the software even though I have Classic on the desktop. The software refuses to load into Photoshop 7 plug-ins. (What a pain in the ass.) If I start to think about the hours (and bottles of wine) I had to give/drink with my systems techie, it scares me how many hours went by with nothing accomplished.

Still in all, people paid good money for art back then. Today it's hard to give it away. Every idiot has a digital camera . . . "And the scary part is that their pictures look great too!" Digital Artists have gone the way of the "spit can" at the beginning of the 20th century. A glutted commodity I helped invent. Crazy.

Lets keep in touch.

Yours truly,
Laurence

Laurence is bidding on a Power Mac 8100 on eBay. Once he gets things up and running, we may see an article about it here on Low End Mac.

Dan

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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