The call came early this morning. It was Jo, at the radio station.
“I was working on invoices on my Mac,” she told me. “And my mouse just died. Do you have a spare one?”
Jo’s Mac is a Mac IIci. We’re talking a circa 1989 computer. She still uses it every day, with an Apple laser printer that’s equally ancient, to do the radio station’s invoicing.
Yes, that’s right: she’s using an 18-year-old computer daily to manage a radio station’s accounting.
We discussed the mouse’s problem. It was the clicker. It wasn’t clicking anymore. Not bad when you consider that she’s been clicking with it for 18 years.
I think she got her money’s worth.
Oddly enough, she didn’t buy the computer brand new. She used it when she worked at the local newspaper. They’d bought it brand new for their layout folks. As the layout folks got new computers, the old ones were shifted to other employees. Jo worked at the front desk and got this Mac IIci. When she retired, they sold it to her for a nominal price. So this is the computer’s third mission in its life.
I refuse to touch the computer. I figure that it’s lasted so long because no one has messed with it.
There’s an eMac with a G4 processor in the same room — I loaned it to them and installed it to do their WebCam and Internet broadcasting. She won’t touch it other than to periodically restart it when it gets confused and stops broadcasting.
The mouse she needed was an ADB mouse. ADB stands for Apple Desktop Bus. It’s the old interface for Apple computer mice and keyboards before Apple adopted the more universally used USB connections. Apple hasn’t made an ADB mouse for at least 10 years, so it wasn’t likely that she’d find one at Best Buys or Frys or even the Apple Store — all of which are in Phoenix, 40+ minutes away by car.
But Jo called the right person. You see, I’m one of those crazy people who keeps all that old computer stuff. I still own two SE/30s — one of which is in perfect working condition. Those computers use the same mice as Jo’s Mac IIci. So I opened up my big plastic storage box of old computer equipment, dug around for about three minutes, and pulled the mouse she needed out by its tail.
A half hour later, she was at my door, checking the clicker.
“Yes, this one still clicks,” she confirmed. She hugged me, then said quickly, “I don’t usually hug people, but I’m very happy about this.”
I was just happy that she’d come to pick it up and that I didn’t have to drive into town.