Introduction: Upgrade Your Original 1984 Macintosh to Run OS X Snow Leopard.

About: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to make a lot of props, but now I spend most my time building crazy cameras and shoo…
The original Macintosh took the the world by storm with its small form factor, and above standard speeds. This project aims to show you how to upgrade your original 1984 macintosh to the specification of a modern day machine.

The original Macintosh had an 8mhz processor, my upgrades will boost it to a speed 200x faster than that. Giving us enough speed to install Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

My main objectives were.
  1. Do not alter, cut, deform, change, or break the original Mac in anyway, I wanted to be able to return it to its original state if I chose to.
  2. Not to let myself cut costs on the project just to make it more 'amazinger' (cheap instructables are great, but we do see a lot of 'wow make an awesome uber computer for like $10 dollars yeah'. This was an epic project, I cut costs where I could, and used recycled parts, but I spared no expense in making this the best I could. This 1984 Macintosh deserved no less.

Here are a few glory shots, then we delve into the bulk of it, I started this project in June '09, but getting married, and moving house did put a bit of a delay on finishing it. 

Be sure to vote for me in the Dead Computer Contest, the Netbook prize would allow me to upgrade my 1984 Macintosh to being wireless, portable, and a 9inch screen to boot.
We all want to see pictures in the newspaper/on the internet of me sat on the train, or chilling in starbucks with a 1984 Macintosh now, don't we?

I also encourage creative constructive comments.

The first ten constructive comments get an ampersand vintage mac patch! 

Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • An original dead 1984 Macintosh (There was a wide range of this style of Mac, keep your eye out on ebay for a defunct one, because this one was broken, I got it for £25)
  • Several A3 sheets of Styrene or Plasticard.
  • Clear Perspex/Acrylic 3-6mm in depth
  • Mini ITX Motherboard (I went for the low power Intel Atom single core)
  • Small PSU (mine was salvaged from a dead Dell Optiplex, you could buy a new one, but thats not very green is it?)
  • A harddrive and Ram
  • A Nanovision Mimo USB 7" screen (you can get models that power off your PSU but use a VGA connection, the Nanovision uses USB for both power and signal)
  • A pair of Apple Pro Speakers
  • USB and Ethernet extension cables


  • Drill
  • Dremel type tool
  • Hot air gun
  • Stanley knife/Box cutter with plenty of spare blades
  • Metal Rule
  • Epoxy resin
  • Superglue
  • Double sided plastic tape (optional, but useful)
  • Pliers

Step 2: Take Apart Your Suspect.

Next we need to take apart our computer to get at the insides. This differs from one model to another. These original computers were made very easy to take apart.

Most of the time you need a long allen key/allen wrench/Hex key in order to reach all the screws on the rear.

The main concern here is the CRT. When disassembling anything with a CRT you have to be very careful in regards to two things. 


The best solution here is first, to leave the computer turned off for a month or so, most charge will have been lost over this time. 

Once that is done, you can either carefully grab all the internals without unplugging anything, dump it in a box and forget about it, or you can discharge the CRT (which we do use later for creating the new screen. 

In order to discharge the CRT you need a long screwdriver, a resister, and some wire.
  • First, solder up a small circuit with a crocodile clip either end, and a 1-10 Meg resister in the middle
  • Attach one end of the circuit to a screwdriver
  • Connect the other end to an earth point, (i attached it to the metal frame of the macintosh which had since been disconnected from the internals but could be earthed through the power cable, the wall socket does not need to be turned on)
  • Carefully slide the screwdriver under the cap on the side of the CRT with one hand, put the other hand in your pocket, this way if you do get shocked it should hopefully miss your heart and head for the earth.
  • You might hear a small pop, but I did not hear one, personally a small pop would be best as it shows that you have succeeded, Instead I just stood there hoping it had worked.
  • Hold the screwdriver against the contact of the CRT for a few minutes
I recommend this guide, which shows how to discharge the CRT.

Pop the CRT to one side, and pack the rest of the innards somewhere safe incase we need any of it.


The vacuum tube could explode when put under pressure or dropped. Take care whenever handling the CRT. If you do happen to drop it, put some shoes on, go buy a Dyson, and vacuum everything..
Be sure to keep the original screws, we use these throughout to add in the new internals.

Step 3: A Replica CRT Screen.

For my screen I decided to use a Nanovision MIMO USB screen. It was the best option for me, as the screen worked off USB power, and I already owned one.

First we need to make a perspex front for the LCD to sit behind. One of the main objectives was to maintain the original look wherever possible. 

Start by cutting down a sheet of perspex/acrylic to being just bigger than your CRT screen.
Position the CRT in a stable mount, luckily for me, my waste paper bin was just the right size to hold my CRT securely. 

Lay down a scrap peice of wood or metal.

Using the hot air gun carefully heat up the entire surface evenly, the idea is to get it a point where it is flexible, but be careful not to over heat it as the perspex may bubble or deform.

How long this will take will depend on the thickness of the perspex, I had a sheet of 6mm so it took a while, in hindsight something closer to 3mm would have faired a lot better.

Once the perspex is cooked, carefully lay it on top of the CRT, the perspex will be hot, so be careful, wearing gloves will help. Hold the perspex till its cool, I used clamps to hold it to the CRT.

Next we want to trim down the excess, place the now curved perspex on top of the internal frame, mark the shape roughly with a sharpie (meths will remove any sharpie so do not worry if you slip into the view of the screen).

I drilled and cut most of the shape, I also used an unorthodox method of using an old soldering iron to remove and cut away some of the perspex.

The final screen should sit comfortably, but not wiggle around too much.

Step 4: Mounting the USB Screen

Start by cutting a section of the styrene to a size just bigger than where the holes sit on the frame.

The easiest way to do this is to sit the CRT on top of the screen and mark the holes from the metal frame, once you have these holes you can cut a rough rectangle out around the holes.

Work out the centre of the screen by measuring from the four holes (a simple cross by joining up the screw holes works.)

Once you have the centre you can then mark out a rectangle for the usb screen to sit into. Measure the outside of the USB screen to get these dimensions.

The screen will look more aesthetically placed if you place it slightly above centre, this is just do do with how the human eye works.

Once you have your frame cut out check the fit on the frame, you may need to cut away in a few places to make it fit flush.

You can then build up as many layers as you wish, I settled on two layers of 3mm styrene.

Use a couple of strips of webbing material to hold the screen in place, be sure to seal the ends using a lighter.

The entire frame screws into the casing using the original screw and holes. No modification to the original Mac.

Step 5: Mounting the Internals - Part 1, the Motherboard.

First things first, check all your components work with each other, you could even go as far as installing an OS.

Using some of the 3mm styrene, I used some of the original internals to make a mounting board for the motherboard. 

This section fits into the front of the case, and sits into a seating at the back of the case, it the rests into some of the internal metal frame at the bottom.

It took a few attempts, I had to keep slotting it in, then cutting a section down a little until it fit snugly.

Next I positioned my Mini ITX Motherboard, I left room at the top to allow me to plug in the port extenders that will allow us to use the external holes of the case later on.

A sheet of metal underneath the motherboard will allow us to earth the computer properly. Mark the holes of the motherboard and fit some motherboard mounting bolts. I actually used some screw fittings off some old serial and VGA ports, which are essentially the same thing.

Step 6: Mounting the Internals - Part 2, the PSU.

 I salvaged a PSU from a small form factor Dell Optiplex, thankfully it was just the right size to fit inside the Macintosh.

The first modification was to take off the top shell, to allow the power plug to be rotated and fit on the back to tie in with the original power connection.

I cut a peice of styrene to hold the power plug in the correct position, once I had got it cut to fit the back of the case, I could easily hold it in place, and trace through from the outside. I could then mount the connection in the correct place. I attached the styrene to the metal frame using double sided plastic tape, and epoxy resin to attach the plug to the styrene.

Finally, I cut out a section from some plastic packaging that was left over to cover up the open PSU to prevent it accidentally shorting.

The PSU was then stuck into the bottom of the case using more double sided plastic tape, I also wired it up to the case in order to earth it to the rest if the machine.

Step 7: Mounting the Internals - Part 3, the Harddrive.

This is by far the simplest part.

I used a bracket for mounting a harddrive into a 3.5" disc drive bay, I then simple used the existing holes and gaps to screw the bracket onto the metal frame. 

I then used thumb screws to attach the harddrive to the bracket.

If on your model it does not look as easy, you could either drill holes, or try mounting the harddrive on some styrene, then attach that to the metal frame.

Step 8: Switches and Ports.

Front connections

I decided to add two front USB ports, and an SD memory card reader.

I cut a few sections of styrene to fit, and clip into the front of the metal frame where the original ADB and floppy connections were.

Once you have mounted these two sections (one shown upper, the other just underneath) slot the frame into the casing, once inside you can carefully trace through the gaps to get an accurate placement of the ports. 

At this point the dremel is very handy for drilling out the holes to position the ports. 
Once you have the ports in place you can assemble and check the position again. Use some epoxy resin to glue these in place.

Rear Ports and switch.

The original macintosh had a power switch at the back, most modern computers have switch on the front hooked up to the motherboard. The original macintosh did however have a 'reset' and 'interrupt' switch to the side.

I created a small L shaped section for the rear ports. On the side of this I mounted the power and reset switches. Once the L shaped section was placed into the case I then inserted the original buttons (a plastic section that fitted into the vents at the side), once these were inserted it made it very easy to glue the switches into the correct place. Check the original plastic depresses enough to click the new switches. 

I went to great efforts to make the CRT and front of the screen look original so decided to extend this effort to the back.

When fiddling around with various bits and pieces I worked out that the USB extension cables fittied inside the metal surrounds of the old Serial connectors perfectly.

I placed the L shaped section against the back and marked out the various port holes. Using the dremel I was easily able to cut out sections to allow the USB extension cables to meet up with the metal off the serial connectors.

Once these are lined up use both epoxy resin, and a hot glue gun to secure these in place.

I also added an ethernet port to align with a hole above the power connection.

Step 9: Boosting the Ventilation.

The original Macintosh was passively cooled. Meaning it had no fans, however my upgrades might not quite manage without a fan.

The original macintosh has two rows of vents on either side, and two vents at the top. It made sense to mount a fan to draw air through the bottom, and expel it out through the top.

I had already got a sturdy frame with the motherboard mount and original metal mount. 

Using some more styrene I was able to create a large L shaped section that would create a second 'roof' inside of the machine.

Before gluing the two sections together I cut a large hole to mount the fan onto, and a gap to fit around the I/O ports on the motherboard. I used superglue to hold the two sections together, then epoxy resin to strengthen the joint.

This section sits, into the frame, and is held in place just with a few squares of styrene for it to clip under. This makes it very easy to get in and upgrade and fix the internals.

At this point I thought it would be best to check everything still fitted.
To my great excitement it did!

Step 10: Finishing Touches.

In order to hide the internals the best I could I went about using some black fabric to mask some of the ports.

I started by using some spraymount to stick some black cotton fabric to some black card. I then roughly cut out a few sections to go over the various ports (bottom usb section on the front, the floppy drive ports, and the rear power and ethernet connections.)

If the card is thin enough you can actually press it up against the ports to give you a slight impression on the card. You can then use that to cut out a hole for the ports to show through.

Use a sharpie to colour in any sections you want black, I coloured in the little plastic sections inside the USB ports, and the metal around the memory card reader, as well as a few sections of white styrene that were showing through.

I had previous played around with spray painting a frame on the inside of the fake perspex CRT, but I opted for cutting a frame from the cotton cardboard, The black frame helps to merge the USB LCD screen behind the perspex. 

Step 11: Optional Extras.

 I decided that the modern keyboards and mice fitted very nicely when used with the Macintosh, so I invested in one of the mini wired keyboards that Apple produced for a short while.

Another investment was in a set of the Apple Pro Speakers which Apple produced with the G4 iMacs, and G4 Powermac Cubers.

The Apple Pro Speakers used a non standard audio connection, I followed this guide here by Grant Muller to rewire them to be used with the Macintosh.

You will also see on the back there is a spare blank white panel. In the future I tend to use this to hook up to an extra base underneath, perhaps for adding a DVD drive, or an Amp to use the Mac as a speaker media system.

Step 12: Thank You.

 Thank you all for reading my Instructable, be sure to leave a comment, rate, and vote.

Thank you to the entire internets, there are many many projects out there that I sourced my inspiration from.

A more specific thank you to NachoMahma, who gave me advice on taking these bad boys apart, and held my virtual hand as I went about discharging the CRT. Also for sharing his love for these original Macintoshes, it was him who first got my mind onto the original classic types, and in many ways sparked this project.

Dead Computer Contest

First Prize in the
Dead Computer Contest