March 29, 2020 The hunt for the oldest Mac in Zambia [updated]

The hunt for the oldest Mac in Zambia [updated]

Original article published November 2019:

Here’s a thought that’s been in the back of my head occasionally in my work at Stoneman Consultancy: What is the actual history of Apple products in Zambia? I have only lived here since 2013. By then iPhones and Macs were definitely in common usage. The first time I visited, though, in 2000, I don’t think I saw a single Mac. And going further back, I was part of a team speccing out and installing a Mac based media lab at the university of Harare around 1995. I know that, in Zambia’s then more economically developed neighbouring country, Macs were a rare sight indeed.

So it would be interesting to find out more, and frame it as a mission to find the oldest Mac in Zambia. Now, since this is an attempt at figuring out a bit of Zambia’s Apple history, I should specify that I am looking for a Mac that was bought in, or brought to, and used, in Zambia, more or less at the time when it was new, or at least used as a second hand Mac, for a time, in Zambia. It doesn’t have to still work, although that would be cool of course.

The way I wanted to do this was simply to ask my friends and my awesome customers. And to ask them to ask their friends to ask their friends, and so on. Which is hereby done!

So if you read this and you have an old Mac, from before Macs were common in Zambia, be in touch! Send me a message on 0976 987 861, drop me a line on lars@stonemanzambia.com or simply comment on this article.

Even if you do not have the Mac any longer, if it was discarded or given away, I would still love to hear any interesting story about it!

I have no idea how old a Mac will turn up from this hunt – will it be a turn-of-the-millennium Mac, maybe a colourful iMac? Or does somebody have a beige box running MacOS 9 or older in the attic? Or maybe a black Powerbook?

Here’s hoping! With the owner’s permission I will publish, in this article and on the Stoneman FB page, a short blurb on interesting old Macs that I am contacted about, with a bit of back story (anonymised, if desired).

Let the hunt begin!

By the way, the header image is of a pre-Macintosh Apple computer, the 1977 Apple II. If you have one of those in the attic, you might be able to sell it for a handy sum.

Update 30th April 2020 – classic beauty found!

I think i might have actually found the oldest Mac in Zambia! And it still powers on!

A Macintosh Portable, introduced in 1989(!)

Out on a Stoneman assignement at Ross and Claire Walker, the owners of Jagoda Gems and The Start Foundation in Kabulonga, we started talking about the past and how they had moved to Zambia in about 1985. Ross proceeded to tell the story about how they had bought a Macintosh Portable a few years later. And they still had it!

They were happy to show me too, and indeed, it was a genuine classic Macintosh Portable, the first ever portable Apple created. This Mac they had bought in late 1989 from one Mr. Rolf Young, then the official Apple Dealer in Zambia, as I understood it.

The classic embossed “rainbow” Apple logo adornes the lid

No laptop exactly, but definitely portable, in the same sense that a briefcase is portable.

The specs: 16Mhz CPU, 1.44 MB (so called “high density”) floppy disk drive, optional 40MB hard drive, and a 640×400 active matrix grayscale display.

To get your hands on one of these you had to shell out at least $6500 in the US. According to Ross and Claire, they bought theirs for $7000, and used it for a long time to run business solutions for their ventures.

This Mac was bought and used in Zambia a few years before I bought and used my first Mac in Norway (a Macintosh 512K) around -91. So it turns out Apple and Mac has a much longer history in Zambia than I thought, and I am happy to have uncovered and shared a bit of it!

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