The retrocomputing community are experts at keeping vintage Apple iron running, but if you’re looking for a simpler way to pay homage to the original Mac, check out this Raspberry Pi powered ‘desk accessory’ by [John Calhoun], fittingly called ‘SystemSix’.
Housed inside a delightfully Mac-shaped piece of laser-cut acrylic, SystemSix is powered by as Raspberry Pi 3, with the graphics displayed on a sizeable 5.83″ e-ink panel. While it resembles a kind of retro-futuristic take on the ‘classic’ Macintosh, SystemSix is the illusion of a fully interactive computer. While non-interactive, the fake desktop is every bit as charming as a real Macintosh display, albeit scaled down. The desktop updates automatically with new information, and presently includes a calendar, dithered lunar phase graphic, and a local weather report.
Clearly calling it a ‘desk accessory’ is a neat play on words. The original Macintosh implemented simple desk accessory programs, such as the calculator and alarm clock, that could run alongside the main application in memory. This was the only way to run more than one application on the Macintosh, before MultiFinder added rudimentary cooperative multitasking in 1987. As such, SystemSix is a functional, stylish and quite literal ‘desk accessory’.
[John] has the full project write-up over on GitHub, and goes into great detail about maintaining the Macintosh aesthetic. For example, the lunar phase graphic uses ‘Atkinson’ dithering. This technique was pioneered by Apple programmer Bill Atkinson, the author of MacPaint and the QuickDraw toolbox on the original Macintosh (and later, Hypercard).
And in case you were wondering – yes, this is the [John Calhoun], who programmed Glider for Macintosh. Now recently retired from Apple, we’re really excited to see what other Macintosh-inspired creations he comes up with. Maybe he will come back around to his Mac-powered MAME cabinets that we covered all the way back in 2005. Or perhaps a sleeper battlestation, like the iMac G4 lampshade that was upgraded with an M1 processor.
9 thoughts on “‘Desk Accessory’ Pays Homage To Macintosh”
I know a bunch of people who’d buy something that implements Talking Moose
My youngest calls these sorts of things “deskorations”. I like the word. :-)
All these people with space to put things on their desk boggles my mind.
My Desk is about an inch per decade. The 2000’s is about two inches down. The 1970’s 80’s is about 4 or more inches downs, things like Z80’s 6502’s down that far. Saw a SPO256 down there somewhere a couple of years ago.
There’s a KIM 1 down there somewhere to. I dug out a CPC 6128 and got that going.
Yeah, so I’m one of these people that still have plenty of room on my desk.
Sleek design, he should ask Steve Jobs for a job, gonna be an expensive call though.
I’ve always wanted to have the Macintosh as a home decoration, but found it very difficult to buy one where I live. I’ve never really thought that using a piece of board material to resemble it would actually look nice. Might get busy this weekend!
This is very cool. I wonder if we can do it using old eReaders such as Nook or Kindle. I have a Nook but its white is nowhere as white.
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