Vintage hardware is big

I started moving some of the computers that are basically ready to go up into my office, since there’s little point in having them all tucked away in the downstairs lab space.

Office20120321

But, the thing is, old computers are big. I am clearly going to face a challenge trying to make the computers visible and individually usable while not at the same time leaving them looking crammed together. And there’s also the minor point that I can’t make my office itself difficult to use. I need to plan this out a bit better. The desk turns out to hold fewer computers than I anticipated.

Office20120322

This is just a start, but even if the iMacs, LC II, eMac, and //e are usable in these positions, I certainly have not solved the problem of not having them look crammed together.

I think my current plan will be to clear out the shelves (by scanning and recycling the non-bound paper, and actually organizing the books), and then put the whole set of 800MHz iMac G4s up there (five in all, but six with another one that I’m expecting to acquire within a couple of months), with the idea of using them in tandem, either as some kind of XGrid, or as a kind of unified display system to display something useful in big fonts (weather map, RSS feeds, IRC chats, twitter feeds, something like that). The G4 Cube setup will probably also go on those shelves, though I’m going to have to re-space them a bit. Not pictured here are a number of file cabinets on the opposite wall, currently supporting a few boring Linux servers with big CRTs, but soon I think to be supporting the G3 iMacs (graphite, ruby, snow, and bondi) and maybe the eMac as well. (I will need to see how it looks, though. The whole point, I think, of the iMac G3s is to be able to see them in profile, since that’s where they’re aesthetically interesting. Just seeing the front of them will not do.)

All of these machines can in principle be either controlled from the modern iMac via teleport or some form of VNC screen sharing. I was planning on leaving at least the G4 Cube in Mac OS 9, and probably one or more of the iMac G3s as well, so I need to find an appropriate remote control solution for those. The monster CRT to the right of the modern iMac will probably go, with the 1GHz iMac G4 in its place, for use in meetings. Behind the modern iMac right now is a big pile of hard drives (four Drobos, two homebrew RAID enclosures, two Seagate FreeAgents), which I’d like to try to reduce the footprint of. This will mainly leave the desktop itself open for the Apples II, since those are not remotely controllable and are too big for the shelves (and not usable atop the file cabinets). But I have a lot of them (the //e shown, but also a IIgs, 1-3 Apple ][+es, a platinum //e, a clone ][+, 1-3 //cs, and possibly a //c+). Even with the desk space reserved for Apples II, they aren’t all going to fit there. Plus, the LC II kind of belongs there as well, being an honorary //e by virtue of its PDS card. Also, I’m not all that keen on putting them all right up to the window (since it is the Apples II that are susceptible to yellowing, although it is not clear that sunlight is the culprit, and this window doesn’t admit all that much sunlight anyway), but I think that’s how it has to happen. Maybe I need to tier them somehow? I also have to get one or more SE/30s in here somewhere, once their capacitors have been attended to, an ImageWriter II in a position that it can be used by the Apples II (as well as over an AppleTalk network), and probably an iMac G5.

There are also some towers and beige boxes (several Yikes! G3s not currently functioning, a MDD G4, a Performa 6116CD, three Power Macintosh beige desktops and a beige Power Macintosh tower). These could all in principle be on the shelves facing sideways, but it’ll be tricky to keep the badge visible and the drives accessible. And I think those will require flatscreen monitors that I have yet to acquire if they’re going to be happy on the shelves.

Given what has turned into more of a space crunch than I had previously managed to comprehend, I think apart from the iMac G4s, I will limit myself to one instance of any given kind of machine in my office, and leave the duplicates out of sight in the lab or at home. I do after all need to use this as an office, though I think I will like being surrounded by this mini Apple museum more than I like the way it’s been for years, where I’ve been surrounded by piles of papers and randomly placed books.

There’s still a ways to go yet.

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