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A closer look at the teardown of the original Apple Mac 128K

Seeing the innards of today’s modern technology is a fascinating experience that can leave you in awe of the incredible engineering it takes to pack components into such a small space. However, taking a peek inside the technology of yesteryear can be quite a trip too. Following the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh at the end of last week, the folks at iFixit got their hands on an original Apple Macintosh 128K and gave it the teardown treatment with some interesting results.

The Apple Macintosh 128K was released in January of 1984 without the “128K” designation. This is the original Macintosh – yes, the one from that bonkers 1984 ad. This is a piece of computing history, but iFixit didn’t sacrifice a functional machine. This Mac had long since gone to the great beyond before it was dissected for study.

The case of the Macintosh 128K is held together by a few T15 screws. There’s no trickery in opening it, except for finding the cleverly concealed location of each screw. This machine was built long before gluing things together was in vogue, so no heating is necessary to get it open.

Inside the case are the engraved signatures of the original Mac team including Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Atkinson, and Andy Hertzfeld.

A 60W power supply takes the form of a single board alongside the CRT – this was a revolution in 1984. The main circuit board comes out without too much trouble, although things inside the Macintosh are secured with a few different screw types.

On the board is the iconic Motorola 68000 processor clocked at a whopping 8MHz, and 128K of RAM. All the storage (400KB of it) is handled by the 3.5in floppy drive on the front of the machine. The 9in black and white CRT tube was impressive for the time – now it’s more of a relic, but an interesting one.

The Macintosh mouse and keyboard were part of the teardown as well. The Mac came with a clicky mechanical keyboard and the mouse had that single button and a ball. They don’t make them like that anymore.

The iFixit repairability score for the Macintosh is 7 out of 10, which is amusing. Even if you wanted to repair a 128K, the parts aren’t going to be easy to find. A lot of the components are soldered to the boards and the CRT and power supply arrangement makes it dangerous to poke around in.