Apple PowerMacintosh 8200/120

Advances in home computing were exciting in the 1990s. Apple even switched to a completely new line of processors – the PowerPC. Once the second generation of PowerPC machines came along and became affordable, I could justify getting one as well. And I got the PowerMacintosh 8200 with a 120MHz PowerPC 601 chip.

The machine shipped with 16 MB of RAM, 1 MB of video RAM and a 1,2 GB hard drive  and I ordered a an AppleVision 1710 17″ screen to go with it. In a way the screen was a revelation because it offered loads of extra space. In another way, as mentioned below, the screen was probably one of the worst pieces of Apple hardware I ever owned.

I used the computer for more than three years and in that time a single, really strange problem occurred: My serial port stopped working for the modem but continued to work for the LocalTalk network. I visited a local dealer where I was positively surprised by the receptionist telling me that it might be a problem with the computer’s battery. She gave me a new battery (for free!) and told me to just let them know whether it did the trick. It did – and things worked well ever after.

I also gave the machine a few extra upgrades, increasing RAM to 64 MB, video RAM to 4 MB and putting a 4 GB hard drive in there. And even after I stopped using the machine when I moved to England, my mum continued to use it for a few years without further problems. Not a spectacular machine, but a reasonably good computer, I think.

AppleVision 1710

The AppleVision 1710 was a good looking screen with reasonably good specs and those handy ADB ports for connecting your keyboard built-in. The first one I received had a somewhat dodgy geometry with lines that weren’t quite straight and couldn’t be adjusted to become straight. I called the dealer who sold me the device and they agreed that lines were supposed to be straight and sent a replacement. The replacement was about the same as the original and it seemed that most of those screens were. So I worked hard to not see those problems.

Soon after, stories came up about many of these screens breaking because of manufacturing problems and Apple extending  the warranty accordingly. As my screen’s image started being a bit shaky, too, I took it to some local repair person who replaced the tube (or something – he may have been a bit of a crook). That improved the problem a little but things started degrading again a bit later and eventually the screen died (i.e. the third screen after about four years). Needless to say that both the quality and the hassle of this experience left a bad aftertaste.