eBay Purchase Price: FREE
Country of Origin: Australia
“Announcing something you’ve never seen before in an inexpensive Macintosh. Colour.”
Those were the words from a TV commercial for the Macintosh LC. The original LC released in October 1990 sat in-between the low-end Classic and the relatively more expensive IIsi, making it the most affordable Macintosh with colour display capabilities.
Most of these saw their time in educational institutions. As I later discovered, this particular LC used to sit within the Zoology department at the University of Tasmania.
You may wonder how I picked up this for free off eBay. Well I happened to be the winning bidder on another Macintosh, and as the seller recognised me from a Facebook group we were both involved with, he decided to toss it in the box for no additional charge. Such a nice gesture!
I went into some detail of the LC for comparison from when I picked up it’s second iteration earlier, the LC II shown in this post so I won’t cover over the same ground here. Aesthetically the LC looks identical to the LC II externally, with the exception of having the option to add a second floppy disk drive on the left hand side. Internally the primary difference is how the cooling fan and speaker are secured to the case. A Motorola 68020 16 MHz processor, 2 MB of onboard RAM, 256 KB of video memory, and a 40 or 80 MB SCSI hard disk drive were its specifications. This LC had the 80 MB drive and was upgraded to 10 MB of RAM.
After making contact with someone up in Sydney who is well experienced with repairing Macintoshes, I arranged to have the logic board and power supply unit sent up to be examined. Generally this was to replace all the ageing electrolytic capacitors. Once the cover was off and cables unplugged, the plastic piece holding the speaker and cooling fan together had to be removed in order to access the logic board. The logic board could then be pushed sideways in order to take it out.
Given time for postage and repairs, it had been a couple of weeks before the components arrived safely back home. The old electrolytic capacitors had been replaced with the more expensive tatalum variety which should improve reliability and eliminate the risk of leakage and corrosion in the immediate areas. I was also glad the power supply unit was checked out; a capacitor had been previously replaced but of one with the wrong rating.
An interesting discovery was that this LC came fitted out with a floating-point unit expansion card, made by Novy Systems Inc. I know little about the company though they appeared to have been based in Florida, USA and specialised in the manufacture of these cards. This particular card had the Motorola 68882 coprocessor running at 20 MHz.
Upon complete assembly, I went to turn it on for the first time not knowing what to expect. The LC chimed loudly and shortly afterwards brought a sad Mac error on the first attempt. Subsequent starts were successful; the issue was the old Quantum hard disk is on the way out. Although launching applications and deleting old documents worked okay, the drive itself sounded horrendous, and a message stating a (-48) system error appeared upon shutting down.
The LC had been running System 7.0, with ClarisWorks, early Microsoft Office programs, and even Internet Explorer 2.1 installed. It didn’t seem to have had active use since the year 2000. The Microsoft Office applications were tied down with KeyAccess software, developed by Sassafras Software Inc. Consequently the documents created in Word 5.0 and Excel 4.0 couldn’t be opened.
Running the LC at 640 x 480 resolution with its original video memory, I was given no more than 16 colours which is a little lacklustre. The next thing to look out for would be a replacement SCSI drive or a SCSI to SD card solution.