Awakened by a blast from the past
I moved recently and have more room to spread out, so in addition to hooking up my two MacBook Pros and older 17" PowerBook G4s, I set up my G3 PowerBook "WallStreet" and my even older 7100.
The others had all been used on occasion in recent years (the WallStreet is the last of my native-OS9 boxes and can therefore run a pair of scanners for which no OSX-native sw exists). (Yeah I've tried the SANE scanner sw, doesn't work with either one). But the 7100... it's been in a cardboard box in the back of a closet since 2006, when I stopped working at a company that still ran FileMaker 6 databases. The 7100 was in actual workplace doing-useful-things deployment, running MacOS 8.6 and Timbuktu and I'd remote into it from my PowerBook to copy huge slews of large TIFF files from one volume to another. It did faster AppleTalk file copies than the PowerBook, in fact. But then they cut me loose and I boxed it up along with my other office supplies and it hasn't seen the light of day (or office fluorescents or lightbulbs) since.
I hooked it up and hit the power button with very low expectations but it booted and once I snapped on an ethernet transceiver to the AAUI port (yeah, remember those?) I got it on my home network. Informed it of the real date (no working PRAM battery of course) and all is well. Shut it down until I have some reason to read floppy disks or have an itch to play with the ancient environment.
Next morning when I came in the loud zzzingg of elderly SCSI drives alerted me to the fact that it was booted. WTF? Thought I'd shut that dinosaur down. Remoted in and did so for sure this time.
Next morning when I came in... yep, ol' Lazarus is ready to go to work again.
A very dusty memory flickers to life in my head. Before I worked at THAT company I worked at a different company and the 7100 did real-world work duty there, too (another FileMaker 5/6 shop, and I could remote into the 7100 from home and run FileMaker to do after-hours field def changes and etc). But before THAT it was my home computer, the latest and greatest. And back then I was commuting a long distance in each morning and had to wake up at 5:30 AM. And, yep, I used my 7100 as my alarm clock, it was one of those models that was supported by the Auto On/Off control panel.
So after a 15 year hiatus, it was once again turned off but plugged in at 5:30 AM and was obediently binging to life on schedule.
Great machines. My dad, who is in his late 70s, still runs a number of beige Macs on a network, all running OS 9. There's a beige G3 Desktop and a 8200.
I've often wondered whether advances in hardware -- transistor density, etc -- have made hardware more or less long-lived. In other words, is the simpler, basic kit more rugged than the precision stuff of today?
I'll be impressed if my 2012 MacMini will still be running in eighteen years' time. 2030! Hey. I'll be impressed if I'm still running.
I do think different eras of Macs are more or less reliable than others, and that the beige G3 was one of the most reliable ones. Mac plus is another Mac that lasted a long time. The bubble iMacs seemed fragile, but the aluminum frame ones seem reliable.
I own a Mac SE/30 that still starts up and runs nicely. Bought it in 1986.
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