Welcome to Dr. Francintosh where I recreate the look and feel of vintage Apple computers, but with all the power of the M1 Apple Silicon processor (and MacOS 11). I maintain as much of the original vintage computer (displays, ports, dvd drives, keyboards, power supplies, cameras, speakers, and microphones) as possible creating a retro feel but with modern power.
My daughter is returning to college at the age of 32. She made a special request. After seeing a vintage iMac G3 on TV, she wondered if I could convert one to a monitor for her Macbook Air. I’ve sourced three deceased iMac G3 computers (Grape – as requested) and hope to recondition them and cobble together a single HDMI monitor from the parts.
The Mailstation project has been on hold for months while I worked out other projects. In the meantime I’ve been researching the Raspberry Pi Pico. It’s hundreds of times more powerful than the Arduino and costs only $4 (a total of $6 with WiFi). I plan to use it to drive the LCD display and keyboard, and possibly a DVI / HDMI monitor. If all goes well, the Mailstation will become the basis for a distraction-free writing device and possibly a TRS-80 model 100 emulator.
I’ve started buying up a number of vintage computers as I expect the prices to start climbing as Boomers yearn for their 8-bit computer origins, and as Millennials become aware of the beauty of these old-school Apple products.
- Apple iic – and original monitor
- iMac G3 – I have three. One will become an HDMI monitor, the others will be fitted with a M1 Macbook Air main logic board (MLB)
- Macintosh Classic – I don’t know if the custom display can be convinced to run a M1 Macbook Air MLB, but I’ll try
- iBook G3 Clamshell – these translucent computers are all the rage. I have several that I hope can be combined with a M1 Macbook Air MLB
- Mac G5 “Cube” – this is a unique and classic looking computer. I hope to put an old M1 Mac Mini inside it
I’ve also started sourcing broken M1 Macbook Air computers to act as the “brains.” (The vast majority of offerings are iCloud / Activation locked – they are useless to me). It’s surprising how much people want for them considering you can buy one for $850 on Apple’s refurb page.
I also am starting to get repetitive stress problems in my elbows and wrists from operating a mouse. I found the Magic Keyboard and Trackpad combination to help. But even with a custom tray to keep the trackpad centered below the keyboard, I have a lot of trouble positioning my palms and preventing “ghost” trackpad touches.
I thought about how comfortable my Macbook Pro keyboard feels and wondered if I could convert an old Macbook Pro into a USB Keyboard.
I’ve sourced an old Macbook Pro 15″ and Macbook Pro 13″. I’ve gutted them and am working out the details of the keyboard and trackpad signals. Note that these are pre-force-touch trackpads, so I don’t expect it to be too difficult.
As I gut these vintage devices, I carefully save the internals and post them on eBay for sale. This offsets my costs and returns the valuable parts to be used in other Apple computers.
I don’t know where this journey will take me. My hope is that I’ll be able to sell these devices on Etsy for a profit. I think there may be a market for “boutique” vintage computers that perform like modern devices.