Support Local Journalism


Among rooms exploring 4,000 years of human history, a new exhibit at a local museum chronicles the high and low points in the story of Apple Inc.’s Macintosh computers.

“When people see these two decades of Macintosh computers right in front of them, I think they respond on a personal, emotional level,” said Eleanor Barker, the executive director of the American Computer and Robotics Museum, based in Bozeman.

“Our visitors who are predisposed to having an interest in computers — they see their own life’s milestones in these milestone machines because they remember getting them, using them and enjoying them,” she said.

High points in the story of Mac include the release of the Apple Lisa II in 1983, Barker said. The computer was one of the first with a graphical user interface, which allowed users to click on icons instead of typing in commands.

A low point was the 1997 introduction of the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, or TAM, according to Barker. The limited edition computer had a flat-screen panel, integrated sound and video and came with a home delivery offer called Tech-in-a-Tux.

Apple would send a man in a tuxedo to buyers’ homes to set up their TAMs for free. But with a $7,500 price tag, the model wasn’t terribly successful, she said. The computer has since become a rare collectible item.

The Lisa II, TAM and more than a dozen other machines and artifacts are featured at the museum’s new exhibit “Say Hello Again: The Vintage Mac Museum Collection.”

The exhibit tracks Apple’s path to becoming what Mac enthusiast Adam Rosen called “the platform of choice for artists and mavericks worldwide.”

Rosen, born in New York in 1966, worked as an Apple-certified consultant and Information Technology specialist in the Boston area. In 2001, he founded the Vintage Mac Museum in Malden, Massachusetts, where he showcased his collection of 50 working Macs and other items.

“With Macs, you spend more time using the tool and less time keeping the tool running. Of course, if Macs were perfect, I wouldn’t have a job,” Rosen once said. His quote rests on a wall in the American Computer and Robotics Museum.

On Aug. 31, 2019, Rosen died from pancreatic cancer. He was 53 years old.

After his unexpected death, Adam’s father Robert Rosen contacted “every computer museum he could find on the internet” to find a good home for his son’s collection, according to Barker.

Robert donated about 50 of Adam’s items to the American Computer and Robotics Museum in Bozeman, though only a small portion of them are on display there, Barker said.

“We were excited to get not just these specific machines, but this whole collection — this family of computers — all at once and almost pre-curated,” Barker said.

Staff were moved by the opportunity to tell the story of another collector, since the American Computer and Robotics Museum is “very much a reflection of the personality and interests of its founder George Keremedjiev and his wife Barbara,” she said.

The Bozeman museum — founded in 1990 — features items that chronicle thousands of years of human history: from an ancient Babylonian cuneiform brick to an original Apollo 15 Moon Watch. The exhibits touch on topics like the Space Race, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing and more.

Securing Adam Rosen’s collection allowed museum staff to fill in gaps in more recent human history, Barker said. The exhibit is scheduled to stay up until they host the annual Stibitz-Wilson Awards in September 2022.

The awards ceremony in Bozeman was postponed for a year because of COVID-19. When they do occur, staff are planning to introduce Stibitz-Wilson Honoree Steve Wozniak — an Apple cofounder and electronics engineer — to Robert Rosen, she said.

“The Museum is thrilled to bring this memorable exhibit to the public,” Barker said in a news release. “Adam Rosen and his Vintage Mac Museum were well-known in Macintosh circles, and we are honored to have been entrusted to exhibit and preserve his important collection for public enjoyment.”

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Helena Dore can be reached at or at 582-2628.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.