I would like to start collecting macs. I am not very knowledgeable about the classic mac line. I would like a 90's era mac that has the best compatibility with a lot of software, while having good graphics, sound, and performance.
Any suggestions would help me a lot.
If you want to go Power PC, then Seal has one for sale:
Power Macintosh 6100/60AV, 72Mb RAM, 500Mb HDD, CD-rom, Floppy with a fresh install of OS8.0.
If you want one with the greatest combination of Classic Mac capabilities and best graphics/speed/perfomance, then step up to the 2000's and get a machine that can "dual-boot" into both classic Mac OS (up to v9.2) and Mac OS X (up to v10.5) with Rosetta support. If I were shopping for an older machine like this, I'd be tempted to get the last of the TiPowerbooks, with the 1.2Ghz G4 (I think). Or a G5 iMac.
For me, I started with the II line and slowly got into the Mac machines. Out of all that I have so far, I find my 500Mhz G4 with OS 9 to be my favorite. I just really dig the exterior design and 500Mhz with 1.5 GB RAM makes OS 9 just fly.
Also, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of older games just don't work well in OS X's Classic Mode so I'll go ahead and second the notion that you should find a machine that dual boots MacOS 9 and OS X.
Edit: I'd also like to throw out a quick thought on the PowerMac 6100. I've got a 60av and as much as it pains me to say it, the machine has been more trouble than it is worth. As far as technical problems, your mileage will vary but I can say the thing runs very hot and is really meant for MacOS 8 at the most. If I remember correctly, OS 9 will install but from a functionality standpoint, the lack of built in ethernet and USB is just a hinderance when you can get better machines for a comparable price. Of course, restoring it to working order was a fun little project. You'll soon learn that these machines often have some very interesting quirks.
I'd recommend a G4 if you want the broadest level of compatibility and speed. My main Mac is still the mirror-door G4 I converted to an ATX power supply some years back.
If you want to stick with MacOS 9 or earlier, I'd go with a beige G3. Very versatile, IDE drives instead of harder to source SCSI, PC100 ram compatibility, all in a nice hinged case.
I would start with a Color Classic and go from there. It has the best backwards compatibility plus color!
Just my 2 cents.
Macintoshes were once very good with backwards compatibility. I run Mac OS 9.0.4 on my 400 MHz G4, and it runs applications made between 1985 and the mid-2000s. The G4 will run anything between Mac OS 8.6 and 10.4. (My G4 dates from 1999, if you are curious.)
For "collectables" I've chosen:
1. The first iBook- a Graphite, G3/466 SE (Firewire/Clamshell.) It is also known as the "Paris" model. With one USB and one Firewire port, can play DVD's. With maxed RAM and a 5400 RPM HD it does fine on the web for email, simple browsing. A humble beauty.
2. The Pismo. An incredible 15yo machine...dual USB, Firewire, will take various modules (batteries, Superdrive, floppy drive, etc.) I use it for all my System 9 apps that still work fine for making slideshows, simple movies, creating mp3's from records, tapes, etc. with Toast CD spin doctor. Possibly the best keyboard ever made.
3. A 17" HD Aluminum Powerbook. Great for DVD viewing, running GarageBand, etc. Big, crisp screen.
The iBook and the Pismo can run 10.4.11. The 17" can go up to 10.5.8.
Good investments into Mac history and still usable.
My favourite vintage Mac is the SE/30 running 7.5.5. It was engineered beyond its time which is why I think it is an important vintage.
This machine with a Micron Xceed Color 30HR PDS video card with external port, internal grayscale yoke adapter & wiring harness takes it to another level.
With a PDS riser & 10BaseT ethernet, a SCSI SD card adaptor and/or larger HDD, you can stretch this machine far.
I like the Colour Classic too.
If you go PowerPC, don't get a Titanium PowerBook. The hinges fail on those. A 12" Aluminum PowerBook G4 867Mhz/1Ghz will run OS 9 natively. Newer Al PowerBooks will run classic mode, which is basically running OS 9 within OS X. OS 9 programs in Classic mode doesn't work as well, though.
I personally recommend an iBook G3 Clamshell. They are the coolest-looking laptops ever made. :coolmac: