The Apple Macintosh Plus was the first computer I bought. In 1988 the Macintosh Plus cost more than $2,000 and came with a keyboard, mouse, a CPU unit with a built-in, 9 inch black and white screen. It also came with 1MB of ram.
Upon purchase I added an external 800K floppy disc drive and an Apple Imagewriter dot matrix printer. A few months later I bought a 45 MB Ehman hard drive and a NEC Silentwriter laser printer.
All of those peripherals added to the cost of the Mac Plus, making the whole set-up worth at that time more than $3000 (the NEC printer cost $1800, the hard drive was $450).
My Macintosh Plus ran applications that were optimized for System 6 and earlier. It was a very capable computer. System 6 required very little hard disc space, could run on 4 megabytes (or less) of ram memory with room to spare. Application programs of this era were quite small many of which could fit and be run from a floppy disc. Fact is users could run Mac Plus systems utilizing only floppy discs.
The Mac Plus enabled people to become bonafide desktop publishers. The Plus was an ideal system when coupled with the first Apple LaserWriters. Aldus Pagemaker and Letraset’s Ready-Set-Go were extensively used on the Mac Plus and its successors the Mac SE, Macintosh II series and the Macintosh Classic computers. Users used these old Macs to produce newsletters, advertising, flyers, books and all sorts of printed materials.
The Plus could be networked with newer Macintoshes using System 6 or the later, System 7 software. Public Folder, a chooser application that was once published by Claris, a former Apple subsidiary enabled networked users to share files between the Mac Plus and other Macintosh computers from the same era. It is also possible to network a Mac Plus with later Macintoshes running OS 8, 9 and even 10.
The Bad Power Supply
Despite the kudos the Macintosh Plus got from its many users, its one major flaw was the bad power supply. The Mac Plus has no internal fan for cooling the system. Because of that, the power supply often heated up and died after a few short years or months of regular use. I spent $200 to get three power supplies fixed on the same Mac Plus over a 3 year period. Macintosh Plus owners can almost be guaranteed that the power supply will fail at some point in the computer’s lifespan.
To get around the power supply problem some Mac Plus owners opted to get the Kensington fan which sat atop the Plus to cool it down. Other users have been known to build makeshift chimneys to vent out the warm air from the top of their Mac Plus computer.
A sign that your Mac Plus power supply may be giving you problems are anomalies with the display. The first indication of a failing power supply is the arrival of the “wavy screen” syndrome, a condition where the screen display seems to waver or “swim” in water. After a while, this condition will become worse when the screen fails to display or shows up with only a white line down the middle.
The Mac Plus was introduced to Apple’s line-up in 1986 and remained in production until late 1990. It was the first Mac to feature a SCSI port and 1MB of RAM. It was the last Mac to use the non-standard keyboard connector cable.
The Mac Plus can run the following Apple operating systems: System 3.2, System 4.2, System 5.x, Systems 6.02, 6.03, 6.04, 6.05, 6.07, 6.08 and Systems 7.01, 7.1 and 7.5.3. While Systems 7.5.x can run on a Plus, it is not recommended unless you like your computer to crawl like a snail.
Since I have a lot of legacy applications, I choose to run System 6.08 on the Macintosh Plus.
Owners of modern computers including Macs running OSX, can run System 6.08 disc image files and programs emulating a Macintosh Plus. This is done through a software emulator called Mini vMac. Mini vMac can also be used with a version that runs on Windows and PC hardware.
How Much is a Mac Plus Worth?
While the Mac Plus sold for a couple of thousand dollars in the late 1980s and 1990, today they are almost worthless unless you can find one in pristine condition, with the original box, discs, keyboard, mouse and manuals. Most Plus’s are given away for free or can be found at garage sales for about $10. You should not pay more than $20 for one… For $20 that Plus had better be in great shape!
Mel’s Mac Plus Hardware
- Apple Macintosh Plus
Motorola 68000 @ 8mhz
4 MB of RAM memory on 4 1MB 30 pin SIMM chips
Built in 9 inch black and white monitor
1 internal 800K floppy disc drive
Macintosh Plus keyboard and mouse
Built in appletalk networking
Ports: SCSI, RS 232 parallel port (for external floppy drive) – modem and printer port
- Apple 800k external disc drive (added 9/99)
- APS External SCSI Hard Drive
- Zip 100 External SCSI Drive
- Apple Macintosh System 6.08
- MacPaint 1.1
- MacPaint 2.0
- MacWrite 1.5
- WriteNow 4.0
- Microsoft Word 3.01
- Microsoft Works 2.0
- The Print Shop
- LetraSet Ready-Set-Go 4.2
- Various Games
More Photos of the Macintosh Plus
- Mel’s Original Mac Plus Article (with more links)
- Macintosh Plus Screenshots
- Sold on the Mac For 10 Years (Low End Mac)