The Journey of the Mac TV

I can’t remember the specific time this was. Best I can tell you: It was summertime in the mid 2000s. 2005 if I had to guess, but my memory is fuzzy.

My mom and I would frequently poke around Craigslist looking at the free section for curb alerts. This was back before people could readily take pictures of things, so it was really a huge luck of the draw if you’d turn up to a pile and find anything good. Both of us tended to be on a night owl schedule in the summertime (no school, yay) so around when I’d be getting to sleep we’d poke around and see if there were any early morning listings that had just gone up.

Sure enough, this morning there was a lucrative looking one promising a trove of electronics. Neither of us could sleep, so we hopped in the car, and drove about a half hour to Oakland, CA in the early morning. It was barely light out, and quite foggy. The location was in one of Oakland’s many suburbs, can’t remember which.

We arrived on location and while it had become a bit brighter it was still somewhat hard to see what for the really thick fog having rolled in. Initially there wasn’t all that much to see, a box of various scrap electronics. But over on the other side of the driveway, I saw what looked like a fairly large CRT face down in the dirt. I almost passed it up (and I’m glad I didn’t), but upon closer examination at the back I realized this wasn’t a CRT at all.

“Holy fucking shit no fucking way.”

My mom didn’t really care that I cursed, but she knew a string of profanity like that meant that I stumbled on gold. Sure enough, as I flipped the machine over, there it was, emblazoned on the front: “Macintosh TV”. I was *beyond* giddy at this point, because I had been into computers for a few years by now, and already knew the Mac TV wasn’t exactly the most common machine out there. We put it in the car, got it home, and let it sit for a day just in case it was a bit wet from the thick fog. We later fired it up and it booted right into Mac OS 7.6, though it was VERY slow and was very problematic. 

Alas, as I didn’t have the means to reinstall the OS at the time, it just sat in my room, looking pretty. I swore I’d get back around to it at some point, but sadly never did.

The next year saw us moving into my grandfather’s house, which was actually down the block from where our apartment was. Pretty convenient, that. I’m still not sure how I managed it, but we managed to get the Mac TV up into my grandfather’s attic by way of a ladder, and up there it rested for nearly a decade. (I did, however, go back up there to make sure the battery was removed.)

Somewhere in between all this I believe I was even in talks with Dan Knight (aka the guy who founded Low End Mac) to try and hand it off to him but we abandoned the idea because shipping was going to be absolutely ludicrous and presented a high chance of destroying the machine.

2015 was when the machine was woken from its slumber and my good friend Ryan and I went up to retrieve it. We managed to get it from the attic without a single issue, but unfortunately as we were moving it from the living room to his car, we dropped it on the hard tile floor in the entryway and it suffered a big crack in the front bezel. At the time, we were gutted, but knowing what we know now? We were lucky. These machines aren’t exactly known for their strong plastic, and lesser impacts have actually shattered the plastics. So we’ll take the singular crack over a shattered chassis.

This is when things really began to pick up. Ryan attempted to revive it a few times with the help of Collin (aka dosdude1) but was unsuccessful. This is when cap plague began rearing its ugly head, though I didn’t know it at the time. Eventually in 2017-2018ish, the Mac TV was handed back to me, and I attempted to get it going. After having watched a Vwestlife video on his Macintosh Classic being recapped, I had a feeling, and washed the board in water and dish soap. After being left to dry for a couple days, I put the board back into the Mac TV…and it fired right up and got to desktop, the old hard drive STILL cranking away as if nothing happened.

The audio, however, was very quiet, so I knew the caps were going bad. I opted to completely de-cap the machine and leave it be, thinking I’d get around to it later on down the line. That time…never came.

The Cross-Country Road Trip

It wasn’t until late 2020 that things began moving again. One of our friends (Noah) was actually coming to California to pick up his (not so) new car that Ryan had prepared for him. As part of this, we made arrangements for some of our good, mutual friends to buy/take things from my garage and Noah would either deliver them along his route back to Texas, or hold them for said friends to get some time later.
 
Ethan was one such person, and he expressed interest in my Mac TV. The way it’d work is Noah has a brother who actually visits Ethan and his friends on a semi regular basis (at least at the time), so Noah would grab the Mac TV, take it with him to Texas, and either by way of visiting Ethan’s himself or his brother going, the Mac TV would hang along for the ride and bam, that’s how we deliver a Mac TV to someone in GA without breaking it.
 
But it didn’t end there! Ethan had it for some time…before it ended up in the hands of one THEtechknight. I didn’t know this until I had actually been told about his channel from someone else and was randomly poking around and saw that he, too, had stumbled into a Macintosh TV. 
It took me a second to connect the dots and realize that wait, Ethan and TTK knew eachother because they both did the Weatherstar exhibit at VCF East 2021, and seeing the damage on the bezel confirmed it: That was my old Macintosh TV! And I was very, very glad to see it getting the attention that it deserved.
Sure enough, he did in fact get it working! There was definitely more cap damage than I thought there was, but like the wizard he is, he got it working! And it makes me very happy to know that the old Mac TV that spent so long with me is in a better, happier place.

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