Friday, July 18, 2008

My $19,399 Bookshelf

Don't know what to do with an old Mac? Over the years I've acquired several for free. For a time I thought of making one into a Macquarium, but decided to turn them into a bookshelf instead. All of the systems still work, though one of them has issues. They all date from the 1980s, with the exception of the Mac Classic II (1991).

What I find particularly interesting is the original cost of these computers. In adding up the original retail prices, the total for all 6 Macs comes to $19,399. The most expensive system is the Mac SE/30 (1989), which had an original cost of $4900.

For those interested, the models that make up the bookshelf include the SE, SE/30, SE SuperDrive, Plus, Plus, and a Classic II.

At any rate, they are now computer art - or something.


Mark J. Pearson said...

Nice! I like the symmetry and the history. If only my old Macs we so symmetrical!

Question: which has more storage, the bookshelf or the Macs that make up the bookshelf? And, which is/was a better means of storing and retrieving information?

And maybe more practically, what would you do with the $19,399 if you had it today? Thanks for the clever idea.

Robert Velarde said...

Thanks, Mark. Some good questions.

I'd have to say that the Macs have more storage. As I recall, the SE/30 was modified to have a 120MB drive and some of the others have hard drives, too. That's room for a lot of text-only books.

The second part of that question is more difficult to answer. Some years ago I had to make a decision to either get the Oxford English Dictionary in print or on CD. I opted for the print edition, albeit the one volume one that reproduces 9 pages of text per page from the 19 volume series. I did this thinking long term as well as regular usage. In short, the hefty OED is not only a very useful research tool, but has become a sort of family heirloom. I couldn't picture myself handing down a CD to my children in quite the same way. Books are sensory, real, we must use our hands to turn the pages, experience the tacticle sensation, etc.

Now, I readily grant that computers are far better at storage and retrieval for certain purposes, but I still love the feel of books.

Ah, what to do with $19,399? Probably pay off the family vehicle, save some money for gas (!), and give the rest away.