128k Macintosh prototype spotted?

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Old is gold, or so the saying goes. Well, if that is the case, then surely what looks to be a 128k Macintosh prototype that appeared in the wild will certainly appeal to collectors of all things vintage. This unique prototype is very rare, considering how not many people keep old school electronics up and running for a few decades. Boasting a 5.25” “Twiggy” floppy disk mechanism, this is in line with the what Apple used in the first generation Lisa workstation.

According to user “mactwiggy” who put up several photos of this particularly rare find (no idea on where he spotted it though), what makes this prototype all the more unique is this – production Mac models relied on 3.5” 400k floppy disk drives, which is a format that Apple by and large was responsible for introducing to the masses.

Touted to be a pre-production system, this prototype, as mentioned before the jump, will sport the proprietary Apple Twiggy 5.25” disk format. I guess that some good came out of this particular rare disk format – it proved to be rather unreliable, and was eventually shelved in the Lisa 2 with the 3.5” floppy disk drive taking over after that. Bear in mind that none of the Macs shipped to date ever came with such 5.25” internal disk drives, so this is either a very clever hoax, or a true blue prototype that never made the grade to be released to the mass market.

The person behind this prototype claimed to have purchased it through an online advertisement, where a retired engraver had this piece of digital treasure that he wanted to let go. The company which he worked for was hand-picked by Apple to create some award medallions for a ceremony at Apple, and somewhere around 1983 thereabouts, this Mac was sent as a model for him to work off of – once the job was completed, several arrangements were made to have him send it back, but somehow or rather, Apple finally told them to keep it.

Basically, the retired engraver did not sell this to make a whole wad of cash on the double – rather, he was just pleased that someone out there knew the intrinsic value of this, and would definitely appreciate in a living room. Talk about a vintage piece of computing in your living room!

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One review or comment

John Says: February 1, 2012 at 7:39 am

I worked for a small software firm in 1983 acquired two Lisa 2s. As part of the deal, Apple elected to allow us to be “beta” testers of their new Macintosh prototype. The prototype was exactly like the one mentioned in the article with the 5.25″ drive. Unfortunately, we were required to send ours back to Apple after we completed out “testing”.

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