Larry Marcus, a partner at Walden Venture Capital, curates a small but dense tech museum in his San Francisco office. On a recent visit, he gave me a tour.
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The main display
Marcus' prized collection of dead, obsolete, sentimental, and weird old tech products.
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iMac, meet Altair
Behind the iMac on the desk: the original personal computer, the 1975 MITS Altair 8800.
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The original Lisa
The first Mac-like product from Apple was the Lisa. This is the first version, released in 1983. That's a ProFile hard disk stacked on top. We think it is a 5-megabyte model.
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Not the original Lisa
Relegated to a position in the Walden VC conference room, this model of the Lisa had a single 3.5-inch floppy drive instead of the dual "Twiggy" (two-hole) 5.25-inch floppies of the original.
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The 1989, $7,300 first Mac portable. Weight: 16 pounds, but the lead-acid battery (see also: your car) kept it running for at least six hours.
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Getting Steve Jobs' Signature
Larry has an original Macintosh case. Inside molds of the signatures of the designers are baked in. They're hard to photograph, but we figured out a way. See the video. (Don't forget to come back for the rest of the tour.)
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What museum of old computers would be complete without a Commodore Pet? Not shown: the Mack Truck-like prop rod that keeps the top unit open when you're working on the circuit board in the lower housing.
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Wall of Altair
The prize of Marcus' collection (other than the Lisa) is the stack of Altair equipment, including a main processor, two floppy drives, an EPROM programmer, and a terminal.
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Arguably the first personal computer. This unit has been modified with the addition of an outboard cooling unit, bolted to the top.
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One of the best reasons Larry calls his collection, "The Museum of Dead Technology."
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The first consumer transistor radio, the Regency TR-1, from 1955.
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The first U.S.-market Betamax video recorder, the 1982 Sony SL-2000 portable. It's sitting on top of a TT-2000 timer unit.
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This 1972 Magnavox Odyssey game console has a strong sentimental value to Marcus.
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The social music player
An original Walkman. Marcus says it was "very social," since it has two headphone jacks as well as a press-and-hold button that turns on a microphone to pipe into your ears whatever someone near you may be saying. Marcus has a special interest in music technology: he's invested in Pandora and Root Music.
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Hideous plastic contraptions
A 1995 Nintendo Virtual Boy (left) and a Weltron 8-track player, which appears to have been stolen from the set of "Space: 1999."