Technology

The teenager obsessed with retro Apple tech

vintage Apple computers Image copyright Alex Jason

Fifteen-year-old Alex Jason owns a vast collection of vintage Apple devices which he now plans to exhibit near his home in the US state of Maine.

Alex started collecting his "orchard" at the age of 10 and says he has around 1,000 items, stored in the basement of his family home.

He is currently involved in the renovation of a former library building in which he hopes to exhibit his collection next year.

He says he prefers PCs for gaming.

As a result he built his own computer which runs both Apple and Windows operating systems - complete with LED light displays.

"Graphics cards that are for PCs are more designed for gaming," he told the BBC.

Image copyright Alex Jason
Image caption Alex built his own "Hackintosh" which runs both Windows and Apple OS

"The only thing I don't like about Windows is the viruses. I know there's a few for Mac but Windows - you click on one thing you're not supposed to and you get hit."

Alex's dad Bill bought a job lot of 50 old Apple computers for $2,000 (£1,380) to start the collection off.

"Originally my goal was to get them, work on them, play retro games and learn the history," Alex said.

"Then I realised, showing my friends, that they'd never seen them. Dad and I got this vision to start a museum and that's been our goal."

Image copyright Alex Jason
Image caption One of the rare prototypes in Alex's collection

While Bill has contributed to the collection, Alex has also raised money for new items by mowing lawns, as well as fixing and re-selling other computers.

"I traded my mini-bike and snow blower for an iMac G5," he said of one of his earlier purchases.

"A couple of my friends thought I was stupid, but I did it because the mini-bike needed a lot of work."

Image copyright Alex Jason
Image caption It's a mouse, but not as we know it

His collection includes Apple computers from almost every generation, in addition to prototypes and accessories, some more unusual than others, like the Apple Cursor 3 - a joystick-shaped mouse - which Alex believes is the only one that has ever surfaced.

Alex is currently on the look out for a very rare Lisa 1 computer, released by Apple in 1983.

The device was dogged by hard-drive problems so most were returned and destroyed by the company.

Image copyright Alex Jason
Image caption An unusual PowerBook 170 - only around 500 were made in these colours.

"When I'm looking at older computers, although I think they're awesome I have to lower my expectations, I know the processing power isn't as good as it is now," Alex admitted.

"The other night I was working on a Power Mac. It's a fantastic machine, they were fast when they came out but not now - you have to have patience and I don't have a lot."

So far Apple has not offered any official support, although Alex is hoping to get in touch with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, aka Woz.

Alex has a 10-year-old sister who doesn't share his passion for retro-tech - but she definitely has inherited the Jason family tech enthusiasm.

"She is more software inclined," he said.

"She's doing a lot with Photoshop - cover art for video games."

Alex is very clear about his own career path.

"I want to get my computer engineering degree," he said.

"I don't mind programming but I love to design hardware architecture."

Image copyright Alex Jason
Image caption Alex's basement is a tech time capsule

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