Inside the Macworld Vault: A hidden collection of vintage Macs

July 30th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware


A hidden collection of vintage Macs

A lot of Apple hardware has passed through the halls of Macworld. Over time, old hardware gets donated to charities and schools. But sometimes an item is put into storage, thinking that there might be a use for it down the road. More often, though, that item is forgotten about.
I was recently asked to sort through Macworld’s storage, and I ended up taking a fun trip through memory lane. I documented much of it on my Twitter andInstagram feed, but we’ve also decided to post pictures here.
Sit back, relax with a tasty beverage, and enjoy the photos. More importantly, share you Mac stories in the comments section. Also, if you enjoy coverage of vintage Apple products, be sure to check out Christopher Phin’s Think Retrocolumn.

Pyramid of Mac towers

This is a combination of G5 Power Macs and 2008 Mac Pros. Apple used this basic tower design for over seven years. Apple is so focused now on lightweight, small computers, and the aluminum tower was everything but lightweight and small.
With that in mind, here’s a disclaimer: Do not attempt to build your own pyramid of aluminum Mac towers. They are heavy machines, and lifting one above your knees is a difficult task. That tower up top? It nearly fell on my head when I tried to place it there. (The things I do for you people.) I really don’t want to hear about Mac enthusiasts inspired by this picture who were crushed by an avalanche of G5 Power Macs and Mac Pros. Don’t do it.


Wallstreet PowerBook

This Macintosh PowerBook G3 was code-named Wallstreet. Two things that struck me about this laptop as I inspected it some 17 years after its release: I really like the feel of its keyboard, and the six-color Apple logo under the screen (which, according to Wikipedia, was the last time Apple used this logo on its hardware).

MacBook Air and Wallstreet

Sitting on top of the Wallstreet PowerBook G3 is a 13-inch MacBook Air (which wasn’t in storage). I wanted to see how many MacBook Airs I could stack before it equaled the height of Wallstreet. But I got distracted by the next laptop…

Pismo PowerBook

The Pismo PowerBook came a generation after the Wallstreet PowerBook G3. It was the last G3 laptop.

Titanium PowerBook G4

See the broken hinge on this Titanium PowerBook G4? This laptop was in bad shape. I used a similar machine during my stint as a MacAddict/Mac|Life editor. Good laptop.

iBook G4

This one is white. Or it was white.

Macintosh SE FDHD

No vintage Mac collection is complete without an original Mac 128K. But we don’t have one, so I guess that makes our collection incomplete. We do have a Mac SE FDHD, though. My first Mac was a SE FDHD, which I bought while in college.

Graphite iMac

The graphite iMac was part of the third generation of the iMac line. This was the first model to have a slot-loading optical drive.

Flower Power iMac

There’s a Bondi Blue iMac in storage, but I was too distracted by the Flower Power iMac to take a picture of it. I did not find a Blue Dalmatian iMac, however.


The flat-panel iMac made its debut in 2002. The CRT-based eMac was released soon afterward. It was a more affordable all-in-one made available through education channels.

iMac (Flat Panel)

In 2004, I was hired as Reviews Editor for MacAddict. During my first month there, I attempted to upgrade the RAM in a 17-inch flat-panel iMac. (I never liked calling it the “sunflower” iMac or the “iLamp.”) I re-assembled it improperly and ended up destroying the computer—which was on loan from Apple. My boss was furious and I thought I was going to be fired, but Apple forgave me.

white imac
iMac G5
I was never a fan of the look of the iMac G5. To me, it made the computer look too much like a kitchen appliance. I still see one or two in public schools today.

Apple mice

I’ve never been a fan of the Apple mouse. It prioritizes style and sacrifices function. It’s a very personal piece of hardware, so everyone has an opinion. Whatever works for you.


Windows 7 running on an Asus ZenFone 2 is too cool not to share

July 18th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware


There’s no real world usage for this kind of hack, but it’s pretty neat to see nonetheless.
It bears repeating that the neat part about being an Android user is all the tinkering you can do with your phone or tablet.
In this case, XDA Developer forum member ycavan managed to get Windows 7 running on an Asus ZenFone 2. There’s even a video showing how it works, though note that there’s no audio.


Unlike a majority of other Android phones, the Asus ZenFone 2 utilizes an Intel-based Atom processor. ycavan cited the reason for the hack was because he was curious about “running Windows at near native speeds.” It’s definitely not perfect—there is no Direct 3D support, for instance—but it works, even if the ZenFone 2’s 5.5-inch display seems a bit small for a full desktop operating system.
Why this matters: It’s always interesting to see what the enthusiast community can do with Android. I don’t personally think there’s any particular need to have Windows 7 running on such a small screen, but I don’t deny that it’s fun to do.


IBM’s crazy-thin 7nm chip will hold 20 billion transistors

July 14th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware


Looks like Moore’s Law has some life in it yet, though creating a 7nm chip required exotic techniques and materials.
How far can we push Moore’s Law? It’s starting to become a concerning question as processors push into almost infinitesimally small process nodes.
Intel’s 14-nanometer Broadwell chips suffered from lengthy delays, stuttering Intel’s vaunted tick-tock manufacturing schedule. TSMC, the company that manufactures graphics processors for AMD and Nvidia, has been stuck at the 28nm node for yearsnow. Intel plans to push into 10nm in 2017, but IBM’s looking beyond that, and just revealed the world’s first working 7nm processor—but it took some pretty exotic manufacturing to get there.
Creating a working 7nm chip required moving past pure silicon, IBM revealed. IBM—working with GlobalFoundries, Samsung, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and others—carved the transistor channels out of silicon-germanium (SiGe) alloy in order to improve electron mobility at such a small scale. Intel has also said 10nm will be the last gasp for pure silicon chips.


IBM and co. had to turn to cutting-edge lithography techniques to etch features onto the chip. The companies utilized extreme ultraviolet lithography, which Intel has also been investing heavily in for years now. The details behind EUV get complicated, but essentially, it’s a beam of light with a far narrower wavelength (read: width) than current lithography tools. The benefits of moving to a smaller feature-etching tool when working on a chip with 7nm components is obvious.
The consortium also managed to stack the chip incredibly tightly, with a 30nm transistor pitch, which helped it achieve a nearly 50-percent surface area reduction over today’s top-end chips.
The 7nm SiGe chips are nowhere near production-ready, but when they’re cleared for commercial use around 2017, IBM says they’ll result in “at least a 50 percent power/performance improvement for next generation… systems” on account of all those process improvements. Ars Technica has a wonderfully detailed write-up on the manufacturing process for IBM’s 7nm chips.
But that’s not even the most impressive number. IBM says that when the industry embraces 7nm manufacturing techniques, processors will be able to be stuffed with an incredible 20 billion transistors. By comparison, Intel’s new Broadwell-U processors pack “only” 1.9 billion transistors.


Lightweight new NUC kits are Intel’s cheapest mini-PCs yet

June 30th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware


Intel’s new low-end NUC PC kits are now available for pre-order, bringing the cost of a mini bare-bones PC down to just $129.
NUC (short for Next Unit of Computing) is Intel’s brand of small, build-your-own PC kits, which have been around for about two years now. The kits include a motherboard, processor, power supply, and all kinds of input/output ports; users supply their own storage, RAM, operating system, monitor and input devices.


While the original NUC kits cost more than $300, the latest models are much cheaper thanks to Intel’s Braswell processors. Not to be confused with the Broadwell chips found in most Ultrabook laptops, Braswell is more akin to what you’d find in a tablet or netbook, though as Ars Technica notes, it runs at a higher TDP to allow for sustained higher speeds—perfect for a desktop PC that’s not drawing battery power.
The new NUCs beg for home theater use, with support for 4K video streaming and TOSLINK optical audio output. Other specs include VGA and HDMI outputs, an SDXC card slot, four USB 3.0 ports (including a charging port that works when the PC’s power is off), an ethernet port, a headphone jack, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. These aren’t fanless designs, though they should run quieter than a typical desktop.
Right now, Amazon has two models up for pre-order. The $129 NUC5CPYH has a dual-core Celeron N3050 processor and ships in two to four weeks, while the $172 NUC5PPYH has a quad-core Pentium N3700 processor and ships in a month or two. Either way, factor in at least a couple hundred bucks more for Windows, storage, and RAM.
Why this matters: The size of Intel’s NUCs have always looked like they’d fit in a living room, but hadn’t quite nailed the balance between power and price. These new models look more promising, especially with 4K video support, and tout the cheapest entry cost we’ve seen yet.


LG returns to Windows Phone with a whimper

May 30th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware


Three years after swearing off Windows Phone, LG is back with a budget handset for Verizon Wireless.
The LG Lancet has a 4.5-inch display with 854-by-480 resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 8 GB of storage (with MicroSD expansion), an 8-megapixel rear camera, a VGA front camera, and a 2,100 mAh battery.

Those specs put the Lancet squarely on the low end of the smartphone spectrum, but it has a price to match. Verizon is charging just $120 for the phone without a contract, or you can get it with a two-year commitment for $20.
For software, the Lancet runs Windows Phone 8.1, but LG is also borrowing some features from its Android phones. For instance, users can wake or lock the phone by double-tapping on the display, and can snap a selfie with a hand gesture. A Quick Memo application lets users take notes or capture the screen during phone calls.
The Lancet is available now through Verizon’s website. If you’re looking for a new high-end Windows Phone, it’s not going to happen until Windows 10 arrives this summer.
The story behind the story: LG was one of the first Windows Phone manufacturers in 2010, but a few years ago the company publicly declared that it would stop supporting Microsoft’s platform, citing a lack of meaningful market share. While Windows Phone is still far behind iOS and Android, Microsoft’s hardware reference design and support for on-screen buttons now makes it easier for phone makers to turn their existing Android handsets into Windows Phone variants. That seems to be the case here, as the Lancet is very similar to one of LG’s recent low-end Android phones, the Leon.


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