I received an email from a coworker about a retiring professor trying to retrieve data off of old computers. Our central IT was unable to assist due to the age of the machines. The professor was trying to move files from a Mac OS X 10.2, 10.4, and NeXT computer. My heart skipped a beat after that reading that last one. Moving the vintage Mac files would be no problem because I keep those tools handy. I restore vintage Apple //, Macintosh, and other hardware as a hobby.
If you don’t know what a NeXT computer is, it’s this insanely expensive computer built by Steve Jobs after he was ousted from Apple in the 1980’s. It ran Unix, had a gorgeous graphical user interface, and if you use OS X today it is still the foundational basis for the operating system. It was lightyears ahead of anything else out there at the time. Have you ever visited a website before? The first webpage was served on a NeXTcube.
I’ve never seen a working NeXT computer before though. I saw one in Berlin in a museum and read about them extensively, but I had no idea that our university actually had them. I immediately went to the professor’s office and he showed me what he was trying to do. We talked a little bit about vintage hardware and I told him that I’d never seen a working NeXT before. I was a little hesitant to respond because day-to-day we’re flooded with tickets IT support isn’t really my thing. Sometimes users, especially tenured professors, need a delicate approach because of their demands. This person could not have been more affable, kind, and good hearted. After talking a while he said he would rather have the hardware saved than go to scrap per university policy.
In the interest of archiving his data and this magnificent hardware I will be cooperating with him to save this NeXT computer. I’ve also agreed to save the Mac Cube and Power Macintosh G3. Twist my arm. They’ll become archive computers if anyone needs a WordPerfect 3.5 file converted. Yes, people still have those.
I decided to document everything in place before moving it all to a secure location. That includes the NeXT computer, original manuals, flyers, software, printers, accessories, and even the original boxes.
The plan is to document EVERYTHING in detail. So stay tuned for future updates.
I’m still looking for work.
Knox discovers a praying mantis in the courtyard of Starin Hall at UW Whitewater.