Obsolete Technology Update

I got several comments last week from readers who were questioning my dating of this photo:

First let me say how deeply offended I am by this. Haha, no, just kidding. I’m actually delighted when people talk to me here.

Here’s one of the comments, from Deborah Gronke Bennett: How sure are you of the 1986 date for that picture? The Ramble t-shirt is so familiar, I am sure it is from before my graduation in 1982. Also the guy’s haircut and digital watch say about 1980 to me. I think that may be an Apple II, not a IIe. The Apple II came out in 1977. I almost feel like I should know the guy in the photo, but I can’t identify him right now.

She’s seconded by the inimitable Marty Merritt: ’86? Really? Must have been a legacy-gear kind of nerd. Thanks to the Rice Apple Consortium, Macs were relatively common on campus by 1985. IBM PC’s and XT’s were pretty common, too.

All right, all right, I’m pretty convinced–although I’m still going to check this out. Now let me explain how I made my error (actually two errors). I found the picture in one of two boxes that Grungy brought in to the Woodson right before the centennial. (We are extremely grateful!) These boxes both contain real treasure–the original pictures and layouts of a couple of years worth of Campaniles. This is kind of a big deal, because the images as reproduced in the Campanile aren’t good enough to be of much use.  Here is Grungy unloading them at the library loading dock:

My first mistake was looking at photos labeled 1985 and seeing 1986. I have no explanation for that except centennial fatigue. However, I also overlooked something else—while the vast majority of the pictures in these boxes were inside labeled sleeves, a few were loose. I just assumed that these must also be from 1986 and it looks like I was simply . . . . wrong about that. Nobody’s perfect.

Bonus: I have a special treat today–the library loading dock with no one on it. I’ve spent a lot of time out there and have very warm feelings for it.


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6 Responses to Obsolete Technology Update

  1. Richard Schafer says:

    Have you tried a magnifying glass on the 80s guy’s digital watch? It’s close to legible when I look at it on the screen, but not high enough resolution to blow up usefully, with the tools I have, anyway.

  2. effegee says:

    The Apple appears to be a “II” or “II plus” based on what appears to be serifs on the “II”. Apple actually used “][” on these models. The word “plus” would have been in “lime green” right-justified below the “][“. I don’t see it but it would not have had good contrast against the background in a B&W photo.

    The “IIe” changed the format of the nameplate in two distinctive ways: The “IIe” was done both sans-serif and italicized looking like “//e”. The nameplate was also divided into two frames, one with the logo and Apple, the other with the “//e”.

    You can view the namesplates here:
    II: http://apple2history.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/a2tag.jpg
    II plus: http://apple2history.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/a2plustag.gif
    IIe: http://apple2history.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/a2etag.gif

    The “II” appears to have gone out of production in 1979 and the “II plus” in 1983. The relatively long production times were due, in part, to differences in the hardware and firmware that resulted in programs optimized for the “II” not necessarily running on the “II plus” and “IIe”.

    The Education Department at Rice was a big user of Apple II (not sure which version(s)) because the hardware was popular in K-12 schools.

    ICSA (as IT was then known) used Apple II during the final phase of supporting Election Central, a consortium of Houston press and television outlets that reported unofficial election results in days of the “curtain and lever” voting machines.

  3. Leoguy says:

    Spending a lot of time on the loading dock … is that where you go to smoke? 🙂

  4. Grungy says:

    What is the joystick-like item in front of the power strip?
    It might very well be a joystick.
    The Apple IIe was produced into 1993.

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