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Teardown offers rare look inside hard-drive equipped 1990 Apple Mac Classic

Known primarily for modifying and miniaturizing game consoles, hardware enthusiast Ben Heck recently turned his attention to a relatively rare hard drive-equipped Mac Classic, providing a glimpse at the internal workings of the first $1,000 Mac.

Heck says he acquired the 1990 model for "a great price" and repainted the case, though a hard drive failure rendered it nonfunctional, necessitating a restoration. He filmed the teardown as part of the weekly Ben Heck Show.

Removing the case first reveals a RAM expansion card, which allowed owners to slot in an additional 2 or 4 megabytes of memory using 30-pin SIMMs. The Mac Classic originally shipped with 1 megabyte of RAM and 512 kilobytes of ROM.

Next comes the Apple-branded SCSI hard disk, apparently a 40 megabyte model. The drive sports surface-mounted chips from Adaptec, Motorola, and Cirrus Logic, among others, and has been slightly modified with the addition of a diode that jumps across circuits.

The logic board plays host to a VLSI chip that integrates graphics and sound processors, a variety of controller chips —including a SCSI controller for the hard drive —and a 15 megahertz crystal. Also making an appearance is the venerable 8 megahertz Motorola 68000 processor and a Sony-made 3.5 inch floppy drive.

Heck's Mac Classic was likely manufactured in 1991, and looking at its internals helps illustrate how far technology has come since the computer's $1,000 price point was considered impressive. Today, consumers can buy a MacBook Air or Mac Mini for less, and even Apple's $229 iPod touch is more powerful by several orders of magnitude.