The 30th Anniversary Macintosh

It’s been just over thirty years since the original Macintosh was released, and [hudson] over at NYC Resistor thought it would be a good time to put some old hardware to use. He had found an all-in-one Mac SE “on the side of a road” a while ago (where exactly are these roads, we wonder), and the recent diamond anniversary for the original mac platform convinced him to do some major hardware hacking.

Inspired by a six-year-old project from a NYC Resistor founder aptly named the 24th anniversary Mac, [hudson] decided to replace the old hardware with more powerful components – in this case, a BeagleBone Black. Unlike the earlier build, though, the original CRT would be salvaged; the analog board on the Mac SE has pins for video, hsync, vsync, and power.

To get a picture on the old CRT, [hudson] needed to write a software video card that used the BeagleBone’s PRU. The CRT isn’t exactly “modern” tech, and everything must be clocked at exactly 60.1 Hz lest the CRT emit a terrible buzzing sound.

With a software video card written for the old CRT, the BeagleBone becomes the new brains of this beige box. It runs all the classic Linux GUI apps including XEyes and XScreenSaver, although flying toasters might be out of the question. He also managed to load up the Hackaday retro site with xterm, making this one of the best ways to make an old Mac SE useful.

17 thoughts on “The 30th Anniversary Macintosh

  1. The last time I was poking around the yoke of a mac classic, it looked like it would only take bypassing a few parts to convert from 1bpp to greyscale.

    Alternatively, using a white noise source and a comparator to automatically dither would be nice too.

  2. I’ve seen plenty of Apple computers at my old home town’s dumps. I left them where they belonged too. I rescued plenty of PCs though. That is all I miss about my old home town. What a great dumps!

  3. The Micron Exceed internal video card had an optional component (IIRC it replaced the board plugged onto the neck of the CRT) to get greyscale on the internal screen.

    BTW, 30th anniversary is Pearl. 60th or 75th is Diamond.

  4. I still use my Mac SE FDHD as a serial console (with Zterm) for my headless linux server and any project that has a serial port. It has a great form factor and footprint for leaving on the bench besides the instruments and I store the keyboard and mouse on top of it.Zterm will happily connect to anything reliably at up to 57600bps, which is quite nice for a 25 years old computer.

  5. There are still macs ‘on the side of the road’, it just takes persistence (and often a very dodgy looking van). There aren’t nearly as many as there once was though. I found an SE (with internal HD) just around the corner from mine a few years ago. It still boots fine. Not too sure about the floppy drive though.

    Gutting a classic mac isn’t very pleasant for the collector, but if it’s the only way to make good use of one… so be it.

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