Dubai Apple Mac enthusiast plans new home for his rare collection of 250 products

AAPL Collection curator Jimmy Grewal believes the Mac, which turns 40 on Wednesday, has never been more mainstream

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Read: Apple's Mac turns 40: How it transformed mass-market computing

A rare collection of 250 Apple Mac computers and products in Dubai is waiting for a new home for the public to see.

As the famed Apple Mac computer turns 40 on Wednesday, the collection's owner Jimmy Grewal says he hopes to find a suitable home in the next two years – in time for Apple's 50th anniversary.

The Macintosh 128K – an all-in-one desktop computer with a nine-inch monochrome monitor built-in – was considered revolutionary when it was launched on January 24, 1984.

In its four decades, the Macintosh has evolved and rebranded to Mac and developed into a family of personal computers that have become a cornerstone of Apple's ever-growing empire.

Apple's company's 50th anniversary is in 2026 and so I've sort of set a personal goal that I would like my collection to be on public display by then
Jimmy Grewal

"I don't know of any other computer that has been continually produced for this long," Mr Grewal told The National.

"The longevity of this product, especially considering what a lukewarm reception it had in terms of sales, I think it's quite impressive.

"And it doesn't seem to be losing steam. I wouldn't be surprised if the product family sticks around for at least another 10 years."

The Macintosh's initial draw was that it had graphical interface and the ability to do tasks that other machines couldn't at the time.

"What really changed things and made the Macintosh really cool is when Apple introduced a laser printer with a supportive postscript, which meant that on a Macintosh was the first time you could lay out documents on the screen," Mr Grewel said.

"They released a laser printer in 1986 and what was called a Macintosh Plus computer, which had up to a megabyte of memory, versus 128k in the original. It could handle graphics and laying out documents and this took the publishing industry by storm because that laser printer was networkable.

"So you could have multiple Macs and one laser printer and you could output typeset quality documents. So that's where it took off."

While the Apple Mac has never been a dominant computing platform, it's always found its niche, Mr Grewal said.

"It's more mainstream today than I think it ever was. And the iPhone obviously contributed to that as people became more aware of Apple," he said.

"They started to look at other products the company made and started to use the Macintosh.

"I think today, the Macintosh business for Apple by itself is a Fortune 500 company."

From the outset, Apple adopted its own operating system, setting it apart from all other products. The lock-in effect or the ecosystem effect that Apple has is "pretty impressive", according to the collector.

"Once you're kind of sucked into it with the iPhone and the Apple Watch and the Mac and their cloud services, it's difficult to break away because you lose the benefits you get from that being part of that ecosystem," he said.

"I think that's one of the reasons the Mac has had this resurgence over the last decade."

Collection needs a home

The Apple II, which predated the Macintosh, was Mr Grewal's first introduction to the brand but after seeing a Macintosh at a friend's house in 1986, it led to a life-long collection.

It started while at Duke University in North Carolina when he came across a warehouse where the university sold surplus equipment and Mr Grewal found an original 1984 Macintosh.

Sold by weight, he picked up the old Macintosh for $22. The collection kept growing with Macs he picked up from the warehouse and by the time he left university, he had around 10 old Apple computers.

"Then I went to work in the tech industry in Silicon Valley and a lot of my co-workers had worked at Apple and had old computers that they gave me," Mr Grewal said.

"I made some friends at Apple and they gave me some stuff, so it just started to grow from there."

The impressive haul of retro technology includes an Apple-1 computer that is signed by its designer Steve Wozniak. He also put his trademark 'Woz' signature on the Apple II computer in the collection.

A selection of about 70 of computers and products are housed in The AAPL Collection, located in the Dubai offices of Elcome International, where Mr Grewal is managing director.

However, he hopes to find a home where the public can see the impressive collection.

"Apple's 50th anniversary is in 2026 and so I've sort of set a personal goal that I would like my collection to be on public display by then," he said.

"I continue to look for opportunities. I would love for it to stay in the UAE so that's still my preference. I have opportunities to put it on display in other parts of the world but that's not very satisfying for me.

"I think it needs to be part of an experiential place where there's multiple reasons to go there and reasons to go back again and again."

While the collection is nearly complete for Mr Grewal, he still adds to his own personal collection - including the latest iPhone and Apple Watch.

He's also invested in the latest addition to the Cupertino-based company’s ecosystem - the Apple Vision Pro.

"I just placed my pre-order so I should have it in two weeks," Mr Grewal said.

"That's going to be the first new platform from Apple since I guess really since the Apple Watch so we'll see if it's a fad or if it's the start of something new.

"I don't see it as a replacement for any product they make today. I think it's just they're creating room, they're creating a new marketplace for them to grow in."

Updated: January 24, 2024, 7:58 AM