The Mac Webb

Happiness Is a New Power Mac 7600

- 2002.03.12

During a weekend visit, a longtime friend mentioned his desire to move to a Macintosh. He is far from a power user, needing only a machine which can handle email, browsing, and word processing.

To give you an idea as to his needs, his current machine is an older Toshiba Tecra running at 100 MHz with 16 MB of RAM and a 750 MB hard drive. The machine runs Windows 95 and has been fairly stable for him over the last five years.

We moved to my upstairs study and began to rummage through some of the machines I maintain in the event a time disturbance shunts me back to 1997. I quickly moved toward two pieces I have been looking to remove from service for a few months.

On my desk was a Power Mac 7600/132 packed with 64 MB of RAM and a 4 GB hard drive. This machine was used simply to fill the slot in my computer desk, as the desktop case was the perfect fit. I grabbed an 8.6 updater and got the machine back to a base configuration. We then proceeded to load a few of my favorite applications to let him get a feel for the machine.

Word processing: I installed ClarisWorks 4 as his office suite, adding Word 5.1 for the times he needs to deal with .doc files. I also installed a copy of Nissus Writer and BBEdit (both light versions) for him to try.

Web browsing: I made sure he had access to Netscape 4.x and iCab. To be on the safe side, I installed Anarchie for his FTP needs (although he has no idea what FTP means) and FaxSTF for his faxing.

Email: I added Eudora (his PC choice) and Claris Emailer to give him a few options. The benefit of Eudora should be the ability to migrate his current mail to the new machine. He can also make use of Netscape for mail and news.

Entertainment: I really impressed him when I added GrayAMP to allow him to play MP3s. He had not been able to run an MP3 player on his Pentium box and is excited about the capability. I also gave him my well worn copies of Civilization II and Heroes of Might and Magic. Great strategy games like these are timeless and still enjoyable on older hardware.

Accessories: His current PC rig does have a Zip drive, so I added an old Mac Zip drive to help him move his files. I no longer have a printer that will support this machine and told him to grab an older HP or Apple machine on eBay to complete that piece of the puzzle. I was happy to include a 17" Apple Monitor that was simply taking up space in my office.

We spent the better part of an hour making sure the machine was set for his dial up accounts, that all of the applications worked, and that the peripherals were in place. I was struck by just how quick the machine felt as we went through all of the applications. He commented that the machine felt faster than his Tecra (it should) and that he really felt like he was getting a new machine.

I grabbed a copy of an OS 8 book to make sure he had a source of answers about the OS. He was extremely excited to make the move, and I was happy to move someone to a Mac. I was very happy to clean up my room a bit (down to three computers and one monitor).

The only twang of remorse I felt came as he eyed one of the Newton 2100s I recently purchased on eBay. The Newton had long been my favorite PDA, providing incredible functionality in a small package. Unfortunately, time had forced me to move on two years ago, and I had regretted the move every day since. Last week, I had found extremely low prices on a few machines and grabbed two for my collection. As the machine was not to be my main PDA, I decided to let him take one on the condition that I could pull it back in an emergency. We then spent another hour getting the connection utilities installed and setting up the Newton with the large amounts of software I had stashed away.

At the end of the night, he left an extremely happy Mac user. Only with a Macintosh could you give a good friend a six-year-old system and peripherals and have him thank you.

When running applications from that time period, the system runs as fast as any new computer. The total cost of buying a similar rig would be under $300 (including the Newton and peripherals) and would give typical users all of the computing power they would need.

In contrast, I had a five year old Pentium 166 I was looking to unload to free up some closet space. I could find no one in my circle to take the machine off my hands for free. I was eventually able to find a buddy who needed a DOS machine to play some older DOS games. This was a machine which debuted at the same time as the 7600, but it is virtually useless five years later.

When you tell your friends about the benefits of the Macintosh platform, don't forget to point out the total cost of ownership as a major plus for the platform. LEM

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