Monday 27 February 2017

History of the World in Apple Objects (7) : Macintosh 512K

Following on a few months after the release of the original Macintosh in 1984 was the Macintosh 512K (M0001W). The 512K referring to the memory, a whole half a megabyte of RAM! The original Mac had just 128K of course so the 512K was quite an upgrade. Otherwise the 512K was the same as the original Mac but the extra memory made it a much more useful computer.

Some new applications required the extra memory including Microsoft Excel which was first released for the Mac. The extra memory also enabled an early form of Mac multi-tasking and networking. The 512K remained on sale for 2 years.

The 512K is the oldest Mac in my collection. I use it as a stand for my bedroom clock. The Mac could still work though mine is a US 120v one so would need a converter to use power in this country.

Saturday 25 February 2017

All The Stations

I've invested in a couple of Kickstarter projects lately, one which has just reached its target is All The Stations which will be an attempt to visit all the stations on the national rail network (over 2,500 at the moment) accompanied by documentary film about the rail adventures. Well how could i resist such a project? Its similar to my own project to produce a personal guide to British railway stations which i document on my blog Calling At.

Now i only post about 2 stations a week (and include London Underground, closed and preserved railway stations) so covering the whole network will take me over 25 years. You are probably better off backing the All The Stations project as they'll do it a lot lot faster!

Thursday 23 February 2017

History of the World in Apple Objects (6) : M0130 Macintosh External Floppy Drive

The Macintosh came with a built-in 3.5" floppy drive but in the days before hard drives having two floppy drives was a boon. M0130 was an external floppy drive for the original Macintosh, the follow-on 512K, the Mac Plus and the SE. It would not work with an Apple II.

The disk drive used 400K floppies formatted in the Macintosh File System format. And came in a nice neat beige box to match the original Mac.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Coming through!

A Pendolino heads through Lichfield Trent Valley at speed along the West Coast Main Line.

Monday 20 February 2017

Grosvenor Canal

The Grosvenor Canal was once a canal that stretched from the Thames up to where Victoria station is now. However over the years it has been gradually cut back to what remains is about as long as my back garden! Just a dock remains now (with modern fancy apartments all around natch), though the pontoons look a bit odd without any boats moored to them. You can see my photos here.

The canal was first opened in 1824 in Pimlico and originally stretched for three quarters of a mile. It was gradually reduced in size as first Victoria station and then Ebury Bridge housing estate were built over it. Despite this it remained in use for loading rubbish barges and indeed was the last London canal to be used for commercial traffic as late as 1995! The remainder of the canal today is now referred to as Grosvenor Waterside.

Saturday 18 February 2017

London rails (again)

Sine the start of the year i have been compiling a list of places i want to go and things i want to see in 2017. Now the list is long and seems to get longer all the time. Today in London i was finally able to cross off some items off the list! First i went to King William Street, one of the first tube stations to open and also the first to close. All thats left above ground of the station these days is a plaque on the wall.

I also took a train from Cannon Street, which means there is only really Charing Cross left as a London terminus i have not visited (though i have been outside it). I took a lot of photographs of trains of course and you can see the photos here. Another item crossed off my list was the Grosvenor Canal but we'll talk about that another time.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Seconds before a bang

Literally seconds before it expired with a loud bang (a shame i didn't keep the camera rolling!), LM 323 210 arrives at Lichfield City.

Monday 13 February 2017

Snow Hill at the end of the 1950s

I've recently bought a good number of railway photographs from various sources off eBay, most are from the 1980s but there are also some which are a bit older. These 2 photos have written on the back of them that they are taken at Birmingham Snow Hill. The Class 26 in one of the photos is described as "ex-works" which means the photos could have been taken in 1958 or 1959. The liveries seem correct for that time period. The railway scene is completely unrecognisable (to me anyway), if it didn't say where it was on the back i'd have no idea!

Just above the loco in the first photo can be seen the company name Taylor & Challen Ltd., they were a manufacturer of lathes and metal presses in Birmingham, many of which are still in use though the company is gone (bought out by an engineering company in Erdington interestingly). The surviving buildings are now mainly apartments like much else in the Jewellery Quarter.

History of the World in Apple Objects (5) : Macintosh SE

The Macintosh SE from 1987 was part of the second generation of Macintoshes coming out at the same time as the Macintosh II, unlike the II though the SE was an all-in-one computer like the first Macs. The SE had a number of improvements compared to earlier Macs like the 512K and Plus, it used the new Apple Desktop Bus interface for the keyboard and mouse. ADB would remain the Apple standard until the iMac and USB in the late 1990s.

The Mac SE was also the first compact Mac to have the option of an internal hard drive and had an expansion slot, SE actually standing for System Expansion. The Mac SE was on sale for 3 years, by then Motorola 68000 based computers were becoming a bit outdated and Apple was moving to faster chips.

The Mac SE shown below was the first Mac i ever bought, second hand from a Cash Converters! It did work fine and helped introduce me to the world of Apple in the mid-1990s. I still miss System 6 (a bit!)

Sunday 12 February 2017

Lichfield stations

With the snow falling i didn't feel like going too far for my latest railway adventure, i headed up to Lichfield Trent Valley station first. I did work for a week near here back in 2001 though could hardly remember anything about the area, most industrial units are fairly anonymous.

Next i walked a mile or so into the city to Lichfield City station. Then back home... though this was delayed for half an hour or so after the electric multiple unit decided to (literally!) go bang. Seeing how the stricken unit was rescued and removed was an interesting bonus. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday 8 February 2017


The unique hybrid diesel-flywheel powered Class 139s operate along the Stourbridge Branch, here 139 002 departs from Stourbridge Junction.

Monday 6 February 2017

History of the World in Apple Objects (4) : Apple IIc

The Apple IIc was Apple's first attempt at a "portable" computer. However it wasn't quite as we would expect a portable these days. Although fairly small and compact (though quite a bit bigger than the Macbook i am typing this on) and came with a carry handle it did not have a built in screen or power supply. Both had to be carried separately.

It was quite impressive from the point of view of technology of the time though (1984) with a built in floppy drive (5.25 inch one too!) and a good full size keyboard. However it lacked the expandability of the hugely successful Apple IIe and as it was released nearly at the same time as the Macintosh some of the technology already looked a bit dated. It was much cheaper than the Mac of course.

The Apple IIc introduced the "Snow White" design language which would define Apple hardware throughout the decade and beyond. Uniquely the Apple IIc was in an off-white colour called "Fog" which was not used on any other Apple computer, which is a shame as it does look pretty good. My Apple IIc did work the last time i tried it though that was a long time ago...
IIc atop the much larger IIe

Ports on the back, and the handle


Saturday 4 February 2017


I went to Nuneaton today to take some photos of trains. Although its not that far away i've only ever been there once before... and that was as a boy when my Dad took me there back in the days of British Rail. Well the railway scene has changed a lot over the last 30 odd years though i still recognised the station. No Class 87s screaming through with Motorail trains though, which i'll always remember that for the sheer noise! The modern day Pendolinos can't quite match that thrill. You can see my photos here.

Thursday 2 February 2017

Cabmen's Shelters

The life of the driver of a hansom or Hackney cab could be quite grim in London in the late 19th century. Open to the elements they found it difficult to leave their cabs to obtain hot meals or some shelter. The Cabmen's Shelter Fund was set up in 1875 by the Earl of Shaftesbury and built a network of Cabmen's Shelters across London[1].

These offered hot meals and non-alcoholic drinks and were also a safe place for cab drivers to meet and socialise. Sixty one shelters were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thirteen still exist still operated by the Cabmen's Shelter Fund (for the use of cab drivers only of course!) and are all listed buildings[2].
Cabmen's Shelter at Warwick Avenue

[1] "Call Me A Cabbie", London Transport Museum Friends News Issue 121 (Spring 2015) p. 11
[2] A history of green cab shelters <>

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Baker Street

Baker Street underground station is a most impressive place. Here a Hammersmith & City Line train emerges from the tunnel into the platform area cavern.