The 'Mac-smith': Paul Marc Davis. Photograph Eleonore de Bonneval
The ‘Mac-smith’: Paul Marc Davis. Photograph Eleonore de Bonneval

If your Macbook Pro has ever made contact with a mug of milky coffee you may think there’s only one outcome, but try telling that to ‘Mac-smith’ Paul Marc Davis.

Davis has been restoring Macs since 2008, starting out in his home before last September setting up shop on Hackney Road.

This is no ordinary computer repair shop, however. Ghosts of computers past confront those entering the premises. In contrast to Apple’s futuristic sheen, Davis has filled half of his shop floor with relics from Apple’s 30 year history.

He explains his thinking behind the Mac museum, saying: “I left out a few old machines one day and when my customers came in they went crazy for them. It made me realise that people were as excited about them as I was, so I built a place for them and started filling in the gaps in my collection.”

Among the museum pieces is an innocuous-looking circuit board from Apple’s first personal computer. “Believe it not but the first Apple computer you had to make yourself,” he says. “You bought the board, then a keyboard and screen to plug into it. This one is missing quite a lot of components, but the last complete one sold for half a million.”

Other curiosities include the rare Apple Lisa from 1983, so called after Steve Jobs’s daughter, and the Graphics Tablet from 1979, which allowed users to create images by hand with a pen. Drawing a circle or a square were about the extent of its capabilities, but it was still advanced for its time.

But being advanced has not always worked to Apple’s advantage commercially. Davis shows me a Twentieth Anniversary Mackintosh (TAM) from 1997, a desktop computer with built-in LCD and Bose speakers. “No one really understood this idea of a computer being a media centre,” says Davis. “They started off selling them for $7,500 dollars but within a year they were trying to flog them for about $2,000.”

The Mac-smith holds no truck with the “white purity of the Mac store”, instead decking the shop out with Victoriana fittings. “What we’re trying to do here is an antithesis,” he says. “We’re moving towards something with a little bit more warmth and a lot more heart.”

To that end, Davis plans to open a cocktail bar and even a school giving Mac-based tuition in the basement. “It’ll be an interesting cocktail bar with a rough and ready Victorian feel to it. In line with the rest of the place here,” he says. “Let’s see if we can keep the students away from the booze.”

Davis’s unusual career trajectory saw him practise as a sculptor for 12 years. He has also found success as an actor, with parts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Dr Who. For now, though, nothing is going to eclipse the Mac restoration game.

“I’ll fix anything – cars, motorbikes … I understand things for some reason,” he says with a shrug.

“And I know what Apple teach their employees. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing you couldn’t pick up in an afternoon. We go a hell of a lot deeper.”

489 Hackney Road E2 9ED, 07907 508678, www.macsmith.co

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