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Saving a Rare NeXT Computer

Macintosh Cube, NeXTcube, Power Macintosh G3

NeXTcube

NEXTSTEP Desktop

NeXT Computer

NeXT

See the full Flickr album here.

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.

The Trip To Gary

(This entry is a cross-post from my American Urbex blog.)

The urbex trip to Gary, Indiana over the past weekend was funded entirely by American Urbex contributors. Although the heat was at times stifling, it was very refreshing to be surrounded by two more talented photographers. Starting early on Saturday we hit up as many well known urbex locations as possible. On Sunday two of us contorted our bodies to make it into an otherwise inaccessible location and spent the next six and half hours there.

The total expenditures for the trip are as follows. Some items are approximated until all locations report their debit transactions.

  • Hotel: $156 for two nights at Quality Inn in Hammond, IN
  • Food: $30 for Subway, KFC, other food items
  • Gas: $26 full tank from Whitewater, WI to Gary, IN
  • Tolls: $16 for the upkeep of Illinois and Indiana’s highways
  • Gloves: $5 for protection
  • SD Reader: $2 to transfer photos

Some of the total cost was offset by Brett, who has a nice dinner coming his way some day in the future. Nick also deserves credit for pitching in for gas on the return trip and other miscellaneous costs. What remains of the funds contributed will go towards fulfilling contributor incentives. Extra funds will go towards future urbex adventures.

The trip was a smashing success. Thanks and keep an eye out formore Gary urbex updates than you can wave a stick at over the next few weeks.