• apple //e,  mac mini,  mac os x server,  mac se,  macintosh,  vintage

    Restoration Projects Update

    Back in December (2021) I posted a picture on Twitter of a pair of Mac SE compact Macs and a Power Macintosh 7200/120.

    They were part of my Christmas break project to occupy my time while on vacation. A nerds gotta nerd.

    I also picked up an Apple //e. And, a Mac mini.

    So, I figured now is a good time to give an update on where these projects are.

    Mac SE Rebuild (January, 1987)

    My first Macintosh was the Mac Classic (1990). It was a great machine to have, and it felt like the natural, albeit without color, extension of my Apple IIgs and GS/OS. A few years later, once I got into the workforce, I was introduced to the Mac SE, the machine that the Classic was based on. I thought that it and the Mac SE/30 looked so cool with its Snow White design language. When I decided to do a rebuild of a compact Mac, the SE was the perfect choice since it represented my nostalgia for my Classic and a timeless classic of the compact Mac era from Apple’s history.

    The picture shows two Mac SEs because the first one was damaged in shipping and became the donor parts machine for the second, which was in better external shape.

    The case of the SE is cleaning up very well. I have used many cotton swaps, wipes, and IPA. Likewise, the motherboards cleaned up well also. I cut out the PRAM batteries before they leaked.

    The biggest problem is restoring the floppy drives. The three Sony 800kb floppy drives that I have need to be stripped down, cleaned, greased, and lubricated, and work needs to be done to carefully work on and clean the eject gear mechanism. This is clearly the most difficult part of the restoration.

    I believe that my Mac SE rolled off the assembly line as a dual 3.5-inch floppy drive model because it came with a third-party Microtech spacer in the top floppy drive position. On this project, I want to put the SE back into that configuration. I will be ordering the bracket that is used to secure two floppy drive cages together. With an open source BlueSCSI microSD card to SCSI interface board. When reassembled, the BlueSCSI board should sit nicely on top of just behind the stacked floppy drive cage.

    Apple //e Enhanced (March, 1985)

    As we saw in my welcome home video, the Apple //e is really good shape. At some point, I’ll need to remove the motherboard, clean it, and then reinstall a replacement set of plastic standoffs and screws. I’ll wait to do all of that work until I find the parts I’ll need.

    The //e is working fine, and it has pasted its built-in diagnostics test (hold down both Apple keys and then power the unit on). I can keep using with a Dell LCD monitor and my Big Mess of Wires Floppy Emu. While I don’t have my first Apple //e anymore, I do have the 5.25-inch disks that came with it, and I would like to connect a pair of disk drives to it. The card that is installed in my current //e uses the newer I/O Controller Card and connects to a DB19 disk port. I will be placing an order for a refurbished Apple 5.25-inch Apple 5.25 Drive (A9M0107). It will let me use my old disks again to boot up the computer. the I/O Controller Card can also be used with a Duodisk Drive. I liked it because it seemed to be more compact and had a spring loaded eject mechanism. My original //e had a Disk II controller card and a pair of Disk II drives. If I can find a working card and drives at a reasonable price, I would buy them. I didn’t know this at the time, but the Apple //e could use the 3.5-inch floppy drive that I had with my Apple IIgs. The //e needed an Apple LIRON disk controller card. Those cards are a bit hard to find on eBay, however, Big Mess of Wires has developed Yellowstone – a universal Apple //-series drive controller card. Think of it as one modern disk controller to rule them all.

    Power Macintosh 7200/120 (April, 1996)

    Of the current restoration projects, the Power Mac 7200 needs the least amount of work. It is running fine as is. I did run across an eBay vendor who had two 512kb VRAM (video RAM) chips at a reasonable price. The 7200 has three VRAM slots on the motherboard. With the two new chips, I’ll have 2MB of VRAM and will have filled all three slots. Nice.

    Looking ahead to other components, I may pick up a period accurate keyboard. My recollection of the Apple Design Keyboard was that it was supposed to be a less expensive all plastic replacement for the fan favorite Apple Extended Keyboard II. That wasn’t even a contest. I held on to my Extended II at work for as long as I could. I still have one, but I only use it sparingly as I am worried about RSI issues from prolonged use.

    If the original Quantum Fireball SCSI hard disk fails, I will switch to either a SCSI2SD or BlueSCSI board. The only other upgrade that I might to do the 7200 is to install a PowerPC G3 accelerator card. At some point, my 7200 had one, as the third-party upgrade badge sticker was affixed to the front of mine. Since the card was removed, I removed the badge. I feel that installing Apple upgrade kits keeps the purity of the computer. I still haven’t made up my mind about third-party accelerators. In my past experience, they seemed like more trouble than they were worth requiring that you follow a maddeningly specific OS and extension software recipe to keep it running well.

    Mac mini (Mid-2011)

    While old, I would call my recently acquired Mac mini “vintage”. This wasn’t a restoration either. Think of it as recycling an old PC by giving it a new purpose. In my book, saving old equipment from a landfill is a noble cause.

    I wanted to build a home server to host selected videos and music that I purchased over the years from the iTunes Store. Yeah, I know I can just stream purchases from Apple’s server, but I grew up in a time when you had to pay for your bandwidth, and I remember what some of my monthly America Online and Verizon bills looked like. So, when possible, I like to stream video and music across my home network.

    With that in mind, I upgraded the RAM on the Mac mini to 16GB using a Crucial memory upgrade kit. Then, I installed a fresh copy of Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.6 and the corresponding Mac OS Server 5 software that I had previously downloaded from the Mac App Store. Sure, it’s not the newest or fastest computer on the block, but it was dirt cheap. The mini and the memory upgrade, all in, was just about $200. I connected an extra USB 2TB RAID box for file serving and downloaded iTunes content. Boom! Home server on the cheap.

    Future Projects

    Once I get the Mac SE and the //e fully restored and running again I plan to take a break from restore projects. I have learned a lot from these projects so far and I’m sure that there is still more to (re)learn from using and enjoying these machines again.

    As the weather turns cold again in the fall, the hunt will resume for more machines to restore or rebuild. My short list includes a Macintosh IIci, a Mac SE/30, and an Apple IIgs. If I happen across an Apple //+, Apple //c or //c Plus, Mac Classic, II-series, or Quadra 840av, well, I’ll probably scoop them up to be stored for refurbishment at a later time.

  • apple,  mac,  mac mini,  mac os x,  macbook air,  macbook pro,  mavericks

    Apple Release Updates for Mavericks Mail, iBooks

    Yesterday, Apple released an update for their OS X 10.9 Mavericks Mail and iBooks applications.

    The update to the Mail application is a welcomed relief to customers who use the Mail appellation with Google’s Gmail email service.  With the introduction of OS X 10.9 Mavericks on Oct. 22, customers have been reporting a number of usability bugs with the Mail application.

    iBooks received a minor update to squash a few bugs an to improve stability.

    Both updates are available in the Mac OS X App Store’s updates section.

  • apple,  mac,  mac mini,  mac os x,  mac pro,  macbook pro

    Apple Releases Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.3 Update

    Earlier this week, Apple released Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.3.  This maintenance upgrade is recommended for all Apple customers running Mountain Lion on their Macintosh.

    You can upgrade your Mac by clicking on the Mac App Store icon in the Dock and then clicking the Updates icon on the top right of the App Store toolbar.  If you are running the upgrade on a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, it is strongly recommended that you plug in your power adapter before starting the upgrade.

  • apple,  imac,  mac,  mac mini,  mac os x,  mountain lion

    Apple Refreshes the iMac, Mac mini

    Apple also, today, updated the iMac and Mac mini computers.

    SAN JOSE, California—October 23, 2012—Apple® today unveiled a completely new iMac® with a stunning design, brilliant display with reduced reflection, and faster processors.* With third generation Intel quad-core processors, powerful NVIDIA graphics and an innovative new storage option called Fusion Drive, the new iMac is the most advanced desktop Apple has ever made. 

    “With a stunning design, brilliant display and faster performance, we’ve made the world’s leading all-in-one desktop computer better in every way,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The all-new iMac is unbelievably thin, yet packs an incredible amount of performance and technology into our most innovative desktop.” 

    Redesigned from the inside out, the new iMac packs high-performance technology into an aluminum and glass enclosure with up to 40 percent less volume than its predecessor and an edge that measures just 5 mm thin. Built with an unprecedented level of fit and finish, the new iMac delivers an amazing desktop experience in a gorgeous design. The new iMac also features a completely reengineered display that reduces reflection by 75 percent while maintaining brilliant color and contrast. In the new design, the cover glass is fully laminated to the LCD and an anti-reflective coating is applied using a high-precision plasma deposition process. Every iMac display is individually color calibrated using an advanced spectroradiometer. 

    Apple also updated the Mac® mini with third generation dual-core Intel Core i5 and quad-core Intel Core i7 processors that are up to twice as fast and have integrated graphics that are up to 65 percent faster.** Mac mini comes standard with 4GB of 1600 MHz memory with support for up to 16GB. Retaining its amazingly compact aluminum design, the new Mac mini now includes four USB 3.0 ports in addition to its Thunderbolt, HDMI, SDXC, Gigabit Ethernet, and FireWire® 800 ports.

    Pricing and Availability

    The 21.5-inch iMac is available with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M for a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US); and with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M for a suggested retail price of $1,499 (US). The 21.5-inch iMac will be available in November through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

    The 27-inch iMac is available with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M for a suggested retail price of $1,799 (US); and with a 3.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX for a suggested retail price of $1,999 (US). The 27-inch iMac will be available in December through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

    The Mac mini is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $599 (US); a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 4GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $799 (US); and a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, OS X Server, 4GB of memory and two 1TB hard drives for a suggested retail price of $999 (US). The Mac mini is available today through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

    For more information about the new iMac and Mac mini family of computers, visit the Apple Mac website.