A few weeks ago, I learned of a retro computing community event called #MARCHintosh. I decided to turn my Macintosh SE restoration project into a #MARCHintosh2022 video. I had been toying around with the idea of making a video – something that is outside of my comfort zone – and post it. You can watch in on YouTube now.
I think the hardest part about the restoration project was to get two working Sony 800k floppy disk drives. I needed to disassemble, clean, grease and lubricate the drives. Something that I have never done. If you are used to working inside a computer, you will be able to handle a floppy drive restoration project of your own. While I didn’t film any footage of my floppy restoration efforts, there are several good videos already on YouTube that do a much better job of explaining the entire process from start to finish.
Overall, I am very happy with how my Mac SE restoration project went. I chose to reconfigure my Mac SE as a two floppy drive model. It is unclear to me if my second-hand SE came from the factory as a two floppy model or as a FD/HD model that more common in the late 1980s. New hard disk replacement options, including the SCSI2SD bridge board allowed me to install the double high two floppy drive cage into my Mac while still being able to tuck the SD card to SCSI bridgeboard away inside the case giving me the best of both worlds: an unusual dual floppy Mac SE with a SCSI “hard disk”. I was happy to remote the third-party Microtech faceplate and MFM hard disk. It has been interesting to relive what it was like to use System 6.0.8 as an operating system. So much is the same, and yet, so much is different at the same time. This has been a fun and nostalgic project to have worked on.
I think by comparison, making the video was equally as challenging. Calling me an amateur YouTube video maker is a generous categorization of my skills. I am glad I made the video. I feel like each one is better than the last. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, but better use of the iPhone camera, microphones, lighting, and a good backdrop don’t hurt either. I’m sure that I will try making a few more shorter unboxing style videos and a follow up Apple //e video in the future.
Yellowstone is a new disk controller card that can be used by retro computing enthusiasts in their Apple II-series machines, including Apple and clone machines, with an array of 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch disk drives from the 1980s. Further, Yellowstone also supports BMOW’s own Floppy Emu disk emulator and naked Macintosh 800k and 1.44MB drives.
Yellowstone is a universal disk controller card for Apple II computers. It supports nearly every type of Apple disk drive ever made, including standard 3.5-inch drives, 5.25-inch drives, smart drives like the Unidisk 3.5 and the BMOW Floppy Emu’s smartport hard disk, and even Macintosh 3.5-inch drives. Yellowstone combines the power of an Apple 3.5 Disk Controller Card, a standard 5.25-inch (Disk II) controller card, the Apple Liron controller, and more, all in a single card.
I am excited to have received my Yellowstone card this week because I also received a second unenhanced Apple //e. (Have I mentioned that I have a deep fondness for my first Apple computer?) I plan on using the Yellowstone card in one of my //e’s as a way to get 3.5-inch disk drive support since finding new old stock 5.25-inch floppy disks is a bit difficult.
I ended up ordering the “Everything Bundle” ($169). This bundle, as the name implies, includes the Yellowstone universal disk controller card ($139) and two DB-19 female disk adapters ($19/ea) so that I can connect two sets of drives to a single computer at a time.
My end result could look something like an enhanced Apple //e with the DuoDrive and the BMOW Floppy Emu connected for easy image-to-floppy creation or to archive the original floppies in my small collection. Another configuration that I am looking forward to trying is connecting my Apple 5.25″ drive and a Macintosh 800k floppy drive to the same system to make a bootable floppy disk with a few different programs on it.
And that is what makes these new cards for old computers so interesting – you can mix-n-match new and old parts to extend and customize the Apple II-line just like Woz intended.
Coming out of yesterday’s Peek Performance spring 2022 keynote, Apple has killed the 27-inch 5K iMac. The 27-inch 5K iMac is clearly a victim of the Apple Silicon CPU transition. None the less, I am angered by Apple’s decision to kill the very machine that I was hoping to buy this spring. I really like my 5K iMac. But my Late 2015 iMac, purchased in the spring of 2016, is starting to get a bit sluggish when I’m running virtual machines, or when I have a lot of apps open, and there is the discoloring around the edges of the screen that I can’t unsee.
I went into yesterday’s event with an expectation that there would be a new M1-powered 27-inch iMac. I had an expectation of what I wanted to spend having gone so far as to add a healthy bump up in price for the ‘Apple Tax’.
After watching keynote, I was left feeling that Apple had an agenda with Peek Performance event. That agenda was to release more M1-based Apple Silicon Macs, yes, but to also continue the relentless push to raise prices and profit margins.
The new Mac Studio is the latest Apple Silicon Mac that comes in a 7.7-inch square that stands 3.7-inches tall. In essence, the Mac Studio is what you get when you cross a Mac mini with the 22-year-old Power Macintosh G4 Cube. The newest Mac is a tiny aluminum box that sits on your desk, tucked neatly under the new Studio Display. Naturally. The base model comes with a 10-core M1 Max CPU. On the high-end configuration, Mac Studio ships with a 20-core M1 Ultra rocket ship.
The Studio Display, a name that I really like, is the Apple branded answer to the disaster that is the LG UltraFine 4K and 5K displays. Studio Display is an amazing 27-inch 5K Retina display featuring a 5120 x 2880 maximum screen resolution. It has a 12MP ultra-wide FaceTime camera that supports Center Stage. A six-speaker array that includes support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos. All of this is powered by an A13 Bionic CPU built into the display.
Let that sink in for a minute.
The Studio Display is a 27-inch Retina display with an A13 Apple CPU and speaker array.
Networking and storage have been moved off device to the Mac Studio computer.
You need the computer and the display to get a large all-in-one computer.
Are you getting it?
This isn’t just one computing device. It’s two. If customers want to get what was once available in a single device two days ago, they now need to buy a $1,999 base model Mac Studio and a base model $1,599 Studio Display. Why charge $2,200 for a 27-inch 5K iMac when you can charge customers $3,800?
Are you getting it?
You need two devices now.
It’s all about Tim Cook’s margins, baby!!
In my opinion, you never buy the base models. You always dial the configuration tool up a notch or two to get the machine configuration that most customers should buy. When you add a 2TB SSD and 64GB of RAM to the base configuration, the total package price jumps up to an eye-popping $5,300! Thats more that double what I paid for my iMac in 2016.
So that’s what has gotten me annoyed with Apple. With the 27-inch iMac now retired, there is no longer an inexpensive large screen all-in-one option. Oddly enough, a Cook Doctrine playbook favorite, keeping the older thing around with a lower price tag, wasn’t deployed this time around. I find this double-insulting since I can still buy a new Intel Core i5 Mac mini today after the M1 Mac mini went on sale in November 2020.
The Mac Studio, I’m sure, will be a popular machine with people who can really use the processing power of M1 Max or M1 Ultra. If you place a pre-order for a Mac Studio today, it will arrive around May 20.
For me specifically, an IT professional and Apple enthusiast, $5,300 feels a bit too expensive.
But what about the “Plan B” option you were just talking about? As I mentioned back in January, without a replacement available, the options become messy top fill the hole in the Mac line up. This became apparent to me when I realized that the current M1 Mac mini tops out at 16GB of RAM. There are no option for a 32GB or 64GB Mac mini for running virtual machines on.
Yes, there are at least two rumors floating around that suggest Apple will release a 27-inch iMac or iMac Pro in late 2022 or 2023. According to the latest ‘prediction’ from analyst leaker extraordinaire, Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will release a 27-inch iMac Pro.
According to Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham, Apple has confirmed that the 27-inch iMac has “reached end of life”.
Who are we supposed to believe? Apple PR or a supply chain leaker?
Basing computer purchasing decisions on rumors and what might happen in the future is, in my opinion, a fool’s game that only sets the buyer up for future disappointment
So, what will I end up doing?
In all likelihood, I’ll hate myself when I buy a Mac Studio and Studio Display. The pair are both really cool and expensive all at the same time.
Just in case you miss it when you are hit with sticker shock, the Mac Studio doesn’t include a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad. The keyboard is another $199, while the Magic Mouse is $99 and the Magic Trackpad $149. Unbelievable.
I have been in the IT field for over 25 years now. Interestingly, one of the applications that I have used almost daily for that entire time is Claris FileMaker Pro. Over the years, the company name changed from Clairs to FileMaker and back to Claris again. The one constant is that FileMaker has always been FileMaker.
As a help desk technician, I deployed and supported FileMaker Pro on Macintosh and Windows PCs. As a server admin, I deployed, managed, and upgraded FileMaker Server and the databases they contained.
So, it is only natural that when restoring a Macintosh SE with System Software 6.0.8 installed, that FileMaker Pro 2.1v3 be installed to go along with it. The Disk Copy floppy disk images that I found were either of 1.4MB floppies – which my SE can’t read – or 800k floppies that did not work for one reason or another (i.e.: corruption or a bad image file).
I ended up purchasing an original copy of FileMaker Pro 2.0v2 on a set of four 800kb floppy disks from eBay. Then, I found and downloaded the 2.1v3 updater from a University of Michigan software archive. With a working set of disks and the 2.1v3 updater in hand, I was able to install FileMaker on my little vintage pal. Using a Power Macintosh 7200/120 with a 1.4MB Apple SuperDrive, I created my own disk image archive in Disk Copy 4.3 and 6.3.3 formats suitable for use on vintage hardware like mine, or in a Classic 68k Mac emulator.
Earlier this week, Apple announced the Peek Performance spring product launch event scheduled for Tuesday, March 8. Happy #MARCHintosh2022 to us!
I love watching these keynotes on my 5K iMac with the lights turned down low with a bowl of popcorn. Corny, I know.
Clearly, Apple has gone full on Dad Jokes with the tease for this month’s event. But can we really infer what might be launched soon based on the trippy colors and the words “peek” and “performance”? I don’t really think so, but I’ll wish cast while we wait for the official product announcements.
It is a pretty safe bet that we will get new iPhone cases and Watch bands in new spring-y pastel colors. Apple has been fairly clockwork with these semi-annual releases. They may not even get any screen time with Apple opting to just post the new products on the website and in stores backed with a press release in the Apple Newsroom.
The iPhone SE, with updated internals, has also been heavily rumored for release later this month. The current iPhone SE was released back in 2020 and two years feels about right for a spec bump.
But and iPhone and some accessories an Apple event does not make.
Peek and Performance
So, what’s up with “Peek” and “Performance”? I don’t expect that we will get a sneak peek at hardware that isn’t ready for launch. I am not expecting an AR/VR headset or the newly redesigned Mac Pro sporting a new M-series CPU. I think those things will be held back until this summer’s WWDC. Those items will be geared toward developers anyway.
How about the redesigned 27-inch iMac? My Magic 8-Ball says, “Try again later.” If you want Apple to make a nice product at a particular price point, forget it. I expect Apple to slap “Pro” in the name and then jack up the price. The 24-inch iMac is the new consumer iMac, while the 27-inch, or larger, iMac will become the new iMac Pro and start somewhere in the $3,000 price range. I expect iMac Pro to be unveiled alongside the new Mac Pro later in the year.
What I am wish casting “Peek” and “Performance” to hint at are new MacBook Air and iPad Air models running an M2 Apple Silicon CPU. That should give both models a nice speed boost and give Apple the opportunity to catch iPad Air up to the advances that iPad mini received last fall.
Since we’re wish casting, is it too much to hope for that Apple finally releases an “affordable” 27 to 32-inch display that isn’t the Pro Display XDR and it’s $1,000 stand? I would happily pay $1,800 for a nice Apple display to go with a new MacBook Pro or M2-infused Mac mini. But we all know that won’t happen. If and when Apple releases a new stand along 27-inch display, I expect it to be $2,800 – $3,200. Still less than an XDR, but not exactly “affordable” considering what you will likely spend on a new 14-inch MacBook Pro.
It is Marketing, After All
If Apple’s plan was to lure me into watching Tuesday’s event, the get the point. I’ll be staying off the Internet as much as possible Tuesday until I am able to watch the event when I get home. The question is, after watching, will I be enticed to use my Apple Card? Checking back in with my Magic 8-Ball, all signs point to “Yes”.