While killing time during the two-hour drive to Tulsa for the Oklahoma Video Game Expo (OVGE) last weekend, I reminisced to the passengers in my car (Jeff and Robb) about the time I “accidentally” bought 300 computer keyboards. I just searched robohara.com and can’t find a post dedicated to that story, so later this week I’ll correct that omission. The gist of the story is, while not paying attention at an auction one time, I bought 300 (mostly useless and broken) computer keyboards for $10.50. As I often say, I told you that story to tell you this one.
One of the treasures I was in search of at OVGE was an Apple IIgs. The IIgs was Apple’s first true 16-bit machine. The “gs” stood for “graphics” and “sound”. It’s a neat computer, one I’ve spent almost zero time with. Although the IIgs had decent graphics and exceptional sound capabilities, the reason I want one is because it has the ability to create physical Apple II floppies from virtual disk images. I already have the ability to do this for the Commodore 64, and I’d like to be able to do it with Apple disks as well. Thus, the hunt was on.
The three of us arrived at the show around 8:15am. With the doors set to open at 9am that didn’t leave us a lot of time for pre-show shopping, but I did make one quick lap around the floor before we started unpacking and setting up our display. A couple of tables down from ours, I spotted an Apple IIgs for sale — not one, but two! The machines weren’t marked with a price yet, but I quickly tracked down the table owner (Ed) and said, “I want the IIgs.” Ed said he would mark them as sold, and he did.
An hour into the show, Jeff (I think) says to me, “Nice pile of computers you bought down there.” I corrected him by telling him that I had just bought one computer. He re-corrected me and said, “I don’t think so.” The two of us walked back down to where the computer had been and, turns out, Jeff was right. On the table (and next to the table, and behind the table) was a giant pile of Apple computers (at least 10) with a printed sign that said, “$100 for all”. Underneath that, the words “SOLD” and “ROB O’HARA” were written in black pen.
I have known Ed for many years and I’m sure had I said, “I really just wanted the IIgs,” he would have worked with me. However, I am who I am, and the thought of dragging home a bunch of old computers to play with sounded like fun to me.
At 2pm on June 18, 2011, it was 103 degrees in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While hundreds of people were inside the Spirit Bank Event Center enjoying the loud, retro sounds of the OneUps, Jeff and I were using a small, flat dolly to wheel load after load of Apple computers out into my truck, much to the chagrin of many of the other attendees. One referred to my purchase as a “bushel of rotten Apples.” Another offered a friendly-suggestion: “Dump them in the trash dumpster now and save yourself the trouble.”
When I got home to Oklahoma and began unloading my own personal items from the show, I found a cockroach. I really, really hate cockroaches. HATE. THEM. In the 9 years we’ve lived in our home, I’ve never seen a cockroach. Immediately, I start playing through scenarios, trying to figure out where this disgusting little critter came from. My stuff was transported to and from the show in a water-tight storage tub with the lid sealed. Did it come from the attic when I was moving things around? Did it come from the hotel? Did it come from … and then it hit me. My stuff had been in the back of the truck with all those Apple computers.
The back of my truck, by the way, looked like this:
Which is kind of deceiving, really, because each time I unloaded a row of Apple hardware, another one appeared.
I spent most of last night unloading, disassembling, searching, reassembling, and testing the computers. I am glad to say that I didn’t find a single roach in any of the computers. In fact, it appeared that all the computers had been recently cleaned inside and out, as there wasn’t even any dust inside them.
The good news is, most of the machines I tested worked:
The bad news is, I couldn’t get a video signal from either of the IIgs machines. I suspect they are not compatible with the monitor I received. The hunt continues!
I did get a working III LC out of the lot, which, with the addition of an Apple IIe card, can also apparently read/write Apple II disks. If the IIgs project falls through, I’ll go that route.
After all my testing (and roach searching) was complete, I began loading up garage shelves with old Mac computers. Most of these will go to Craigslist, or more likely, the dump. I simply don’t have a use for most of them, but hopefully I can find good homes for them. There’s a Mac IIfx in the pile. According to Wikipedia, with this configuration, this machine originally sold for $12,000. Today, I would gladly accept $10.
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