Deep in the heart of Missouri lies a secret underground bunker full of Apple Macintosh computers. Within its stark white walls, you'll find the computer collection of Jeremy Mehrle, a professional graphic designer with a decided preference for Apple hardware.
Actually, Mehrle's presentation more closely resembles a swank nightclub than a bunker. The monochromatic color design and minimalistic furniture arrangement compliment the Mac collection perfectly, while adding an incredible touch of class to the makeshift museum. Dozens of compact Macs (mostly Classic IIs), which automatically run screen savers when turned on, engulf a tall bar area in one corner of the basement. In other section, there's an eye-catching wall full of candy-colored iMacs. And don't forget to take a stroll down the row of various all-in-one Mac models that includes the rare Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh. Eat your heart out, "Mac Shelf."
Merhle, who also goes by the handle "soyburger," posted some pictures of his basement Mac collection on Flickr in August of last year, and links to the gallery have been virally spreading around the web ever since. I just recently ran across the photos myself and was so impressed with the aesthetically adept setup that I decided to contact Merhle and conduct a short email interview, which you can read below. There's a lot more to see of Mehrle's basement than the pictures here, so don't forget to check out the full gallery as well, on Flickr.
An Email Interview with Jeremy Mehrle
VC&G: First off, could you give us some personal background on yourself?
Jeremy Mehrle: I'm 28 (nearly 29), I live in O'Fallon, MO and I'm a video editor, graphic designer and 3D animator for a small production house here in town.
VC&G: When did you first start collecting Macintoshes?
JM: I started collecting Mac in 2000 before I was even a Mac user.
VC&G: What made you choose Macs and Apple products as the focus for your collection?
JM: I originally had a very diverse collection. I had Ataris, Commodores, Apples, IBMs, Compaqs and Tandys. As the collection grew I had to start focusing so I got rid of everything but Apples and IBMs. Then once I finally accepted that I was a Mac fanatic I chose to devote the basement to my Mac collection. I still have 4 IBM systems for nostalgia, but the Mac just look so much better so they lent themselves to a collection better than the PCs.
VC&G: How many macs do you have down there, and how many do you own in total?
JM: 67 on display in the basement, 6 on display elsewhere in the house, 21 that I'm trying to get rid of or think of an interesting way to display (several are for parts), and 5 computers for day to day use.
VC&G: Are you missing any Mac models from your collection?
JM: I'd like an Apple III and a Lisa I ( I just got a Lisa II) and a case for my NeXT Cube. I tend to collect all-in-one computers so there are several laptops and PowerMacs that I don't have.
VC&G: Your Flickr gallery says that your collection is in your basement. How long did it take you to set up your computers in that area?
JM: It took a year and a half to finish the basement (contractor issues) and about two weeks to assemble all the IKEA shelving.
VC&G: How many Macs do you have set up at your Mac Bar? Did you buy out a school computer lab to get all those, or just collect them over time?
JM: I got the Classic II's on a pallet off eBay. There were 50 systems in an assortment of Classic II's Classics and Mac SEs. There are 18 classic II under the bar and 12 Mac Classics behind the bar.
VC&G: What software do you run on your Classics at your "Mac Bar?" Do you have them all set up so you can flip a switch, turn them all on, and have them automatically run a screen saver?
JM: Thats exactly how I have them set up. I have two power strips that I turn on and they boot up and after a minute go into a screen saver of a spinning cube. It's hard to see in the pictures, but it looks really good in person. I need to find a better way to turn them off, but right now I just turn the power strips off. Oh they run system 7.1
VC&G: I'm assuming that you don't usually keep all your Macs on at one time, but if you do, does it drive up your power bill and get hot down there?
JM: I only turn them all on about twice a year and yes it does get warm. That's why the basement is such a good place because it is usually so cool. I haven't noticed a change in the power bill because I never have them all on for very long. I'm sure it would be insane if I left them on all the time. If solar gets efficient enough to power the whole basement and keep it cool then I'll consider leaving them on more.
VC&G: In one picture on your Flickr account, one can see numerous flat-panel monitors hanging on the walls over a couch. Are those connected to anything, and what are they for? If not, what are your plans for them?
JM: They are some cheap LCD TV's that I usually connect to a DVD player or a laptop when I have a party. It helps to set to set the mood anywhere from "just chill" to "lets party!"
VC&G: One of the most striking things about your basement setup is your choice of furniture. Any chance you could give us some tips on where to get some similar pieces?
JM: All of the shelves cabinets a couches are from IKEA. The desks in the office area are Kartell which are a little more expensive than the IKEA.
VC&G: Are you married? How do your wife, family, and friends feel about your collection and setup?
JM: I'm not married legally, but I have a live in girlfriend and her two kids so It's like I'm married. She like the collection, but is pretty indifferent to computers. She likes the look of a couple of the machines especially the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, and the iMac G4 and she really likes the iMac wall and the Classic bar. My family and friends also like the collection, but more for the "cool" way I displayed them rather than the actual history that is contained down there. My friends also like using the iMac for LAN games.
VC&G: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your collection that we haven't covered?
JM: I can't think of anything, but if you have any more questions feel free to ask. Thank you.
VC&G: Thanks, Jeremy, for the interview.