Reviving a Non-Responsive 7300/200

I am happy to report that the Happy Macs lab is once more fully operational, after a move of 100’s of miles from its old home to its new home. Of the 28 or so computers that were moved, there was only one “casualty” – my cherished Power Macintosh 7300/200.

PowerMac 7300-200 Image

It would be fair to say that over the last few years, I have lavished many months’ worth of time on it. It has been an essential test bed for almost every new concept, card or technology that I have dug into. It has been heavily upgraded, has a leading edge set of applications installed and has been so reliable that I use it to host an internal Gopher server that the rest of the lab accesses as need be.

Consequently, I was more than just a little distressed when I unpacked it, assembled it and pressed the Power button, only to be greeted by… well, nothing! OK, not quite nothing. The power light came on and the two hard disks spun up, but that was it. There was no startup chime, no video, no response to keyboard start up shortcuts and in general, no signs of intelligent life at all. Even though I packed every computer myself, and moved all of the boxes personally, the process of moving is a physically challenging one for an older machine given the inevitable bumps and bruises along the way. Had my prized 7300/200 suffered fatal damage?

At first, I was concerned, but hopeful. The boxes had been in storage for six months during the move. Perhaps the motherboard battery had expired in that time. I replaced it with a fresh one. No joy. Moving does involve inevitable physical jolts to the boxes. Had a card dislodged from its slot? I checked every card, including the removable CPU card. Everything was snug in its slot. Still no signs of intelligent life. Speaking of intelligence, in the computer world intelligence comes from the CPU. I have an upgraded 500 MHz G3 card slotted into the 7300’s CPU slot. Perhaps it had died in the transfer? I gently extracted it from its slot and replaced it with the original 200 MHz CPU card. The machine remained stubbornly silent. No chimes, no video, no life.

Sonnet 500 MHz G3

At this point I moved from “concerned” to more like “worried”. With physical bumps and bruises comes the possibility that a delicate solder joint somewhere had snapped, in which case it was simply all over (I lack both the skill and the equipment to detect and repair this sort of damage). I also considered the possibility that a cantankerous capacitor had blown somewhere, and spent no small amount of time examining the motherboard and the plug in cards for the telltale signs of cap damage. Again, this was without reward.

OK, clearly “inspiration” was not going solve this issue, so I moved on to “perspiration”. Keeping the case open, I began methodically removing every plug in card (video, IDE and USB) one at a time, and every memory module, until the machine was essentially stripped to its essence.

Power Macintosh 7300 Open

Still it gave no indication that there was any life left in it. Finally, I was left with only the plug in CPU card, which I had already ruled out as the source of the problem in my early “inspiration” testing. Still, the CPU card was all that was left, and if I was going to have admit that this machine was dead, I was going to (re)try this first.

I know that you know what happened next, because the perversity of inanimate objects almost predicts it! I replaced the 500 MHz G3 with the original 200 MHz 604e, powered up for what I thought would be the last time, and was greeted with a robust startup chime! I hardly believed my ears! The machine proceeded to execute the boot process, although it quickly ran into trouble due to a critical shortage of RAM. Ultimately, a minimal version of Mac OS 9.1 managed to project itself onto the display and there was life!

So… I had lost the 500 MHz G3 CPU after all! Well… not so fast. I am nothing if not methodical, and so now I extracted the 200 MHz CPU and replaced it once more with the (by now very suspect) 500 MHz CPU and applied power once more. Once more the machine chimed vigorously and booted into a minimal Mac OS 9.1. This is NOT what I expected, but it was very welcome indeed. I powered down and repeated to be sure that this was a sustainable result. It was.

After that, I slowly, methodically began replacing everything that I had pulled out of the machine. The RAM was first, and with a full complement of RAM came a full boot of Mac OS 9.1. The video card was next, then the IDE card, restoring access to the second hard disk and finally, the USB card. When it was all said and done, I had simply removed everything and replaced it all. I had of course reseated everything in the process, vs. just checking that everything was snugly in its slot, but nothing more.

Reseating the CPU seemed to be the breakthrough point, but I had done that much earlier to no effect. I really have no idea exactly what caused the original failure, nor do I have any real idea how what I did resolved it. However, it IS resolved, and the machine has been starting up reliably ever since.

The moral of this story? Be patient, be methodical and try everything at least twice! The machine is not dead until you give up on it!



HappyMacs Gopher Site Back on the Air

Progress update from the HappyMacs lab. I am pleased to report that the HappyMacs Gopher site is once more “on the air”. Please visit gopher:// to access a wide ranging library of vintage Macintosh software.

Picture 1

Happy Macs Lab Progress, Mac IIfx and Apple IIgs

At long last, the corporate relocation that has shuttered the Happy Macs lab for the past six months is finally complete. It has been a long and tortuous process but at last it is done. Our new home has a large and custom-built space in the finished basement that will grow into the Happy Macs lab over the coming weeks. Last weekend, most of the vintage computing equipment that will populate the lab was moved from the safely of the climate controlled storage locker where it has spent the last several months to its final staging area, our garage. Over the next few weeks, I will be unpacking the boxes and situating the systems in the lab, slowly bringing it all back online.

In the interim, while any sort of progress has been limited, my passion for vintage Macs has not gone entirely unsatisfied. I have kept a watchful eye ever open, and over these past few months I have acquired two rare and precious goodies that will feature in upcoming posts: a Macintosh IIfx (the “wicked fast” Macintosh) and an original copy of the ORCA/C compiler and development environment for the Apple IIgs.


The Macintosh IIfx will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog, but the mention of anything related to the Apple II probably will. To be fair, the Apple IIgs is NOT a Macintosh, and so would appear to be outside of the scope of this blog. However, like many Macintosh-related blogs and user groups, I am making an exception for the Apple IIgs. While it is true that it is not a Macintosh, it is a very close relative. From a GUI perspective, an Apple IIgs running its’ GS/OS operating system is nearly indistinguishable from a Macintosh running System 6.

The Apple IIgs is in fact a fascinating “what if” machine in Apple’s history, one that I will delve into it in more detail in an upcoming series of posts. As a teaser, what would you think of a true 16-bit Apple II, featuring the first color user interface Apple had ever fielded, with a fully mouse driven GUI that looks (and acts) for all the world like Macintosh System 6, and which outsold all other Apple products, including the Macintosh(!), in its first year on the market? Would you find that interesting? I did, and the more I dug, the more fascinating this Apple II – Macintosh hybrid became. Stay tuned for more!

That’s it for now. I am pleased to report that this blog has not gone away – it has just been on a relocation-mandated hiatus.

Networking Your System 6 Mac

At this point in our series of posts about System 6, we have explored why you might be interested in System 6, what sorts of Macintosh units you might want to purchase to support that interest, and what minimum “starter kit” of software you might need to get you started in this new environment. Now it is time to load your System 6 machine up with the software you really need to make productive use out of the system.

There are two “usual” ways of doing this, networking the new machine with other Macs you may have, so that you can simply load new software across the network, and attaching mass storage devices such as an Iomega Zip drive or a CD-ROM and transferring the software in that way. This post explores the first of these two topics, networking your System 6 Macintosh. The last and final post in this series on System 6 will explore second option, adding mass storage.

The word “networking” deserves a little exploration of its own, in order to set the context for this post. There are two major forms of networking that could we could pursue: Apple’s own AppleTalk and the ubiquitous (today) Internet.

AppleTalk is an Apple proprietary set of protocols that allows two or more Macintoshes, along with other compatible devices, to communicate with each other. AppleTalk can run over either a simple serial connection between two or more units (LocalTalk) or it can run over Ethernet (EtherTalk), and thus address any compatible machines on your local home network.

In addition to AppleTalk, most people will want to get their new System 6 machine onto the Internet and the Web, and so this is an objective as well. We take this later objective with a grain of salt however, remembering that while a System 6 machine can make excellent use of many Internet resources, there is very little, if anything, that a System 6 machine can do on the web.

A practical consequence however of wanting both AppleTalk and Internet connectivity is that we will focus on AppleTalk over Ethernet… EtherTalk. Thus, this is the context in which we pursue “networking” in this post.

For the most part, we will need to start from scratch. Out of the box, your new System 6 installation will typically not come with AppleTalk, any form of TCP/IP stack (needed for the Internet) or even any form of Ethernet drivers.

To achieve our objective to AppleTalk over Ethernet, and the ability to access the Internet/web, we need to install both networking hardware and networking software.

Let’s start with the hardware. In order to accomplish networking, your machine needs to have network interface hardware at its disposal. Your machine may come with networking hardware built in, or you may need to install a NuBus network interface card (NIC) of your choice. Apple provided a range of Nubus NIC cards at the time, and similar cards were available from other vendors as well. I recommend the Apple NIC cards of the period to start with, simply because the drivers are largely available as part of the NSI 1.4.5 package.

This is what I did with my Macintosh IIsi. I purchased (on eBay) a Mac IIsi-specific PDS-to-Nubus extender, and an Apple NuBus NIC card. I physically installed this hardware before I began my networking software upgrade, and as a result the drivers for the new NIC went in as a seamless part of the NSI software install.

That’s the hardware – onto the software. You will need to install the following software, in order:

1/ Apple Network Software 1.4.5 (AppleTalk – will run over LocalTalk to start with)

2/ Ethernet drivers for the NIC hardware that is either built into, or you have installed on, your System 6 machine. As mentioned above, remember that drivers for many Apple NIC Cards are included in NSI 1.4.5.

3/ MacTCP 2.0.6, providing you with a System 6 compatible TCP/IP (Internet) stack.

As you approach your networking software installation, your new System 6 machine provides no networking support at all. Both the Network and the TCP/IP control panels are not present, and the Chooser control panel in all likelihood contains only one or more printer selections, and no AppleTalk selection, looking rather like this:

Chooser, No AppleTalk Selection

Like many things Macintosh however, transforming this into what you want is almost painfully easy.

In my case, I used my Power Macintosh 7300 to burn a copy of NSI 1.4.5 (the last version of Network Software to support System 6) onto a floppy. I fed that floppy into my Mac IIsi and it mounted it cleanly on the desktop with no issues. I executed the installer and it ran to completion also with no issues. Following a restart, I had a full AppleTalk client installed AND a shiny new Network control panel, supporting the shifting of my AppleTalk connection between LocalTalk and EtherTalk.

Network Control Panel

So far, so good. If EtherTalk networking was the objective, we would be done at this point.

However, the objective is EtherTalk networking AND Internet connectivity, and so you need to proceed to the final step, which is installing MacTCP. In this case, you will want MacTCP 2.0.6, although an earlier version may work. When I expanded the .sit file for MacTCP 2.0.6, I got just a file called MacTCP. Presuming that this was either an extension or a control panel, I copied it into the System folder and restarted. Success! I now had a MacTCP control panel, supporting both LocalTalk and EtherTalk selections.

MacTCP Control Panel 01 with LocalTalk and EtherTalk

A word of warning at this point. If you are used to more “modern” TCP settings such as you might find in later versions of Mac OS, you may be unpleasantly surprised by MacTCP’s presentation. The Internet was a fairly new thing in System 6’s time, and this is reflected in the sometimes arcane settings that MacTCP 2.0.6 presents to you. It may take some inspired tinkering, and perhaps just a little time, to get MacTCP to configure the things you will want to configure, but rest assured – it can be done.

MacTCP Control Panel 02 Advanced Options

Regrettably, this article is being written after the fact from notes that I made at the time (as I write this, the Happy Macs lab remains in storage as part of our present corporate move) and so I can’t include specific instructions for each MacTCP control. However, I recommend setting your IP address manually (I’ve never had much luck with modern DHCP servers, such as you will almost certainly have in your cable/DSL box, and early versions of Mac OS), setting your subnet mask to, and setting both your Gateway address and your Name Server address to the IP address of your local home router (which will typically be your home’s cable modem or DSL box). was a common default address for many cable/DSL boxes for some time. Readers who have Comcast Xfinity boxes may find that works for them.

Anyway, with a bit of tinkering, I successfully bludgeoned MacTCP into configuring the settings I wanted and restarted my Mac. When the boot was finished, I was pleased to see that the Chooser control panel now “saw” the other vintage Macs on the Happy Macs Lab network (specifically those that were turned on and which had AppleTalk networking enabled) indicating that AppleTalk over Ethernet was up and running on my System 6 Mac.

System 6 Chooser w Quadra 840AV Selection

But better still, when I fired up MacTCP Ping, it not only successfully pinged the other Macs visible on the Happy Macs Lab network but ALSO successfully pinged multiple external web sites! My Mac IIsi was on the Internet!

MacTCP Ping

I had to sit back and marvel at this point. An incredible amount of newly installed hardware and software (the NIC card, its’ drivers, MacTCP and MacTCP Ping) had all just working perfectly – and in perfect harmony – the “first time out of the box”, allowing my Mac IIsi to reach outside the limited confines of the Happy Macs Lab and out onto the wild, wild west of the Internet. As I said earlier, the whole thing had been almost painfully easy.

Reflecting on that, being able to ping other servers on the Internet was perhaps quite a technology tour de force, but in the end, it is not terribly useful. So, what did one do with an internet-networked System 6 Mac “back in the day”? Why, one Gophered of course! Gopher, a very capable text-based precursor of the web, was THE way to share information at the time, and has been discussed at length in several earlier posts of this blog. System 6, as you may well guess, had an excellent Gopher client in the form of the third party program TurboGopher 1.0.8b4 (an earlier version of the TurboGopher 2.x series which features prominently in the aforementioned blog posts on Gopher).

I installed TurboGopher 1.0.8b4, fired it up and pointed it at the current “daddy” of Gopherspace, Floodgap Systems’ server (port 70). TurboGopher got right through and displayed their home page perfectly, if somewhat more slowly than I was accustomed to… which is to be expected I suppose – the Mac IIsi is a 20 MHz 68030 machine, after all.

Assuming that you have been following along and installing hardware and software on your machine as you go, from this point on, the internet is an open resource to your System 6 Mac. Remember however that the web is not! I have experimented with some of the very early web browsers that would run under System 6, but have had no (none, zero, nada) usable results. You can network your Macs, you can Ping Internet servers, you can FTP files and you can cruise through Gopherspace… but you cannot surf the web with your networked System 6 Mac.

So there you have it then! Networking your System 6 Mac with Ethernet can be a simple and enabling experience. Best of luck to you in your efforts in this regard!

p.s.> Networking via LocalTalk, on the other hand, has eluded me completely thus far! Just before the Happy Macs Lab was packed up, I was working on networking two System 6 Macs exclusively over LocalTalk, with no MacTCP involved, and was getting absolutely nowhere! I DID manage to connect to an ImageWriter printer I have using just LocalTalk, but that was as far as I could get. I could not get the two Macs to “see” each other over LocalTalk. This may become the topic of additional posts at a future time, once I figure it all out! In the meantime, just a word to the wise. It does not appear to be as simple to LocalTalk two or more Macs as it is to EtherTalk them over MacTCP.

p.p.s> All of the software mentioned in this post is available in the System 6 section of the Happy Macs Gopher server,, port 70… or rather, will be very soon. Regrettably, as I write this (April 2018), the Happy Macs Gopher server is presently offline due to our corporate move. However, it should be back on the net no later than the end of May 2018. Watch this blog for notification of its renewed presence. Until then, most, if not all, of the above mentioned software can be found on the web with a bit of luck and a lot of inspired Google’ing.

Happy Macs Lab, Gopher Server Are on the Move

The Happy Macs Lab and the Happy Macs Gopher site are on the move! I am moving to a new location for work and am now “between homes”. For the next few months, I am living in temporary housing while our new home is being completed, and that means that both the Happy Macs Lab and the Happy Macs Gopher server are both completely “off the air”.

This is a corporate move and so we did not have to pack anything, but I couldn’t bear the thought of ham-fisted movers disassembling and packing up my precious Macs (please no offense is intended if you happen to be a mover!) and so over the last month or so, I have been doing the job myself. Finally, this past weekend, it was time to load it all into a truck and drive it to our new location. As you can see below, I selected U-Haul for the job.


On each of the past several weekends, I have loaded up the car and taken down my most precious or most delicate Macs, a carload at a time. This past weekend, EVERYTHING else was loaded into the truck and taken down. You can see that the truck was fairly fully loaded. It is amazing how much Mac related paraphernalia I have when it is put all together in one place.


So, until our new home is move in ready (expected to be mid April), the Happy Macs Lab and Gopher Site are “off the air”. For those accessing the Gopher site on a regular basis, please accept my apologies, and my assurances that the site will be back on the air again as quickly as I am able to accomplish this.

You may be curious to know whether I set up any vintage Macs at my new temporary housing location. The quick answer is “yes”. Long time readers of this blog may remember that a few years ago, I made a similar move, although across a much larger distance, also for work. As with this time, the Happy Macs lab was also down for an extended duration, in that case 6 months. To retain some connection with the vintage Mac world, I brought two of my then favorite vintage Macs with me to my temporary housing location, my Power Macintosh 7300/200 and my Power Mac G5 Quad. This time around, ALL of my vintage Macs are essentially here with me in my temporary housing, but still in the boxes they were moved in and packed away neatly in an available attic. However, I have kept out a current favorite, my G3 All In One “Molar Mac”, and of course my “daily driver”, my 3.4 GHz iMac (definitely NOT a vintage Mac!). So, I am not completely out of the vintage Mac loop, just mostly.

I will keep everyone updated as things progress, and at any rate will soon be posting the two final articles in the System 6 series I was working on. These are “Networking Your System 6 Mac” and “Using External Mass Storage with Your System 6 Mac”, both of which were “in flight” when I had to tear down the lab. Stay tuned!

Happymacs Gopher Site Current and Planned Outages

A quick note to all the readers of this blog. The HappyMacs Gopher server appears to be down at present. Unfortunately I am traveling on business and will not be able to reset it until NEXT weekend. Regrettably therefore, the HappyMacs Gopher server is “off the air” until then.

Another personal note that will impact availability of the server from time to time. I have just started a new job, and we are relocating as a result. The PowerMac G5 Quad that hosts the HappyMacs Gopher site is of course coming with me (!) but on the day that it is moved, and perhaps for another day or two after, the server will be necessarily down. I will post here on the blog to let you know specifics as the details become clearer.

Our new home has a purpose built computer lab in the basement, giving the HappyMacs Lab it’s first purposely designed home. I am looking forward to getting into our new digs and getting everything set back up and running full tilt. I will publish pictures of the new lab once it is up and running.

Despite the move, I am nearly finished with my next post on networking System 6 Macs, and you can expect to see that published in the next week or two. That post will be followed by the last in the System 6 series, all about adding external mass storage to your System 6 Mac. Stay tuned!

Thanks for your patience with these temporary outages of the HappyMacs Gopher server and I will get it back on the air just as soon as I can.

Getting Software Onto A System 6 Mac

Your “new” System 6 Macintosh has finally arrived, and you have either loaded it with System 6 yourself, or more likely than not, it has arrived preloaded with it.


Now you are eager to start loading your own favorite software onto it, but right away you are faced with a serious disconnect.

The Problem:

Today’s world speaks CDs, DVDs and websites, but your System 6 Mac speaks floppies, and only floppies, at least when it first arrives …and not just any floppies …typically it will arrive equipped with the long forgotten dual-sided 800K floppy. Given the complete technical discontinuity between how you can deliver software to your new Mac and how it is able to receive it, you clearly have a problem. Getting software onto your new System 6 Mac may not be as easy as it might have seemed!

To compound this problem, a lot of the software that can be downloaded from the web for System 6 arrives as .dsk, .img or .image floppy disk image files. More often than not, these have to be “burned” to an actual floppy in order to be installed, and of course, on more occasions than not, these floppy images are going to be for 800K floppies.

Box of 800K Floppies (398x356)

Of course, you don’t have 800K floppies, nor the floppy drive to load them with. Your new Mac has an 800K floppy drive of course, but you have to load the disks you are going to feed into it. How will you do this? There are lots of interesting solutions to this problem, but a chicken and egg conundrum quickly emerges. Many of these solutions are enabled by some of the very software that you are trying to load onto your Mac, but to get that software onto your System 6 Mac, you need the solutions they implement already in place! …sort of a Catch-22!

Available Tools to Solve the Problem With:

So, what tools do you have available to bridge this technology chasm?

800K Floppy: The troublesome 800K floppy is one such tool. If you have access to another vintage Mac that supports this format, and is already loaded with some of the software you need, you have a viable avenue. Alternately, if you have access to a vintage Mac that has a dedicated external floppy port, you can surf over to eBay and purchase one of these drives, and a box of the 800K floppies to go with it. Both are readily available on eBay, and for a reasonable price. Then you can load software onto 800K floppies and walk them over to your new System 6 Mac – SneakerNet!

SneakerNet III

Networking: Networking is another tool. If you can network your new System 6 Mac to one or more other vintage Macs that you may have, you can transfer the software you want to load via AppleTalk. Of course this means that you need to load Apple’s Network Software Installer (NSI) v1.4.5 (the last version that was compatible with System 6) and then MacTCP onto your new System 6 Mac.

At this point, I am sure that I don’t need to say that the floppy drive on your new Mac is the only way to accomplish this, and so you need to purchase floppies with these components on them. NSI floppies show up periodically on eBay, again at a reasonable price, and so this is an option. Alternately, perhaps you have an NSI floppy lying around from days gone by. MacTCP is a bit more troublesome, since while it is readily available on the web, it does not show up by itself on eBay.


CiderPress: Another possible tool is to use a Windows XP PC (yes, a PC, not a Mac) to write the floppies you need. There is a WinXP program called CiderPress that will do this, but it will only work for 1.4MB floppies, since no WinXP PC will have the hardware to write the long obsolete 800K format. You CAN write 800K floppy images onto 1.4MB floppies using CiderPress, but I have not had much luck with the results. I am told that it works – it just hasn’t for me. Your mileage may vary!

CiderPress 01

Zip-100 Drive: By far the simplest tool is the once ubiquitous Zip-100 drive and disks. If you can support a Zip-100 drive on any other computer you have access to, Mac or PC, and you have an external SCSI Zip-100 drive that you can attach to the SCSI port on your new System 6 Mac (all of them will have such a port), you have a great means for transferring software in volume.

External Zip-100

It is not quite that simple of course. You need to load the Iomega Zip Driver v4.2 (NOT to be confused with the IomegaWare package of the same or similar number – these two sets of software do not have harmonized version numbering!) onto your new System 6 Mac, and so once again you need to get that onto a floppy disk. Happily, this driver is very small and can be transferred easily this way, ONCE you have a way of writing HFS floppies. In this case, it can be 800K or the more available 1.4MB floppy – the driver is small enough that it doesn’t really matter.

There is one big catch here though if you are going to use a Mac to accomplish the transfer of files onto the Zip disk. As I reported in a very early post in this blog, Mac OS Standard is Not So Standard After All, you will need a Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard, or lower to load the Zip disks. Higher versions of Mac OS X will read Zip disks in HFS format, but they will not write them in this format. So, you are back to needing a classic Mac again, or a newer G4/G5 machine running a version of Mac OS X up to but not higher than 10.5.8 Leopard.

Linux! There is one more tool/approach I will mention, but I will not delve into it in any detail. You CAN use Linux to read and write HFS formatted floppies and Zip disks, and to do the equivalent of making DiskCopy sector-by-sector copies of the same.


However, I am guessing that the average reader of this blog will not also have an interest in Linux systems, nor have one or more of them just lying around and waiting to help in the accomplishment of the above. If you do however, and you want to try this route, you will need to install the HFS file system into your Linux distribution, and also become familiar with the incredibly flexible “dd” command. Linux can be challenging though – good luck!

Combining the Tools to Load Your System 6 Mac:

Setting Linux aside, lets look at how we can put the other tools together in various configurations in order to accomplish the desired result of getting software onto your new System 6 Macintosh.

Configuration 1: You have another vintage Mac whose floppy drive supports the 800K format. In this case, you can transfer software in painfully small 800K parcels until you get your new System 6 Mac up to where you want it. As mentioned above, this method is often referred to as SneakerNet, for the hopefully obvious reasons.

Configuration 2: You have the vintage Mac above, which supports 800K floppies, AND you have a one or more external Zip drives. In this case, you can use that 800K floppy just once, to transfer Iomega’s Zip Driver v4.2 onto your new System 6 Mac and then restart. From then on, you can transfer massive numbers of files (relative to the standard of the day) via 100MB Zip disks. This is SneakerNet on steroids!

Configuration 3: You have Configuration 2 AND you have a G4/G5 machine running Mac OS X Tiger or Leopard. In this case, you can use the above vintage Mac to get the Zip driver onto your System 6 Mac and then use Zip disks thereafter, loading them from the external Zip drive connected to your G4/G5.

This was my situation with my new Macintosh IIsi. I had a Quadra 840AV (running Mac OS 8.1) that supported both 1.4MB and 800K floppy formats. I used it to put the Iomega Zip driver onto an 800K floppy, used that floppy to load the driver onto the Macintosh IIsi, and then was able to switch to Zip disks for the rest of my software loading, with those Zip disks being loaded from my PowerMac G5.

Configuration 4: You have another vintage Mac that you can network your System 6 Mac to. Now you just have to install System 6’s networking software and then you can use AppleShare to transfer files from your other vintage Mac. To enable this approach, you need to find Apple’s Network Software Installer (NSI) v1.4.5 … on a floppy unfortunately… and install it on your System 6 Mac. You may also need to install MacTCP as well, if you are planning on using Ethernet networking. From there on, you can network to your other vintage Mac (using either LocalTalk or EtherTalk, as you wish) and you are off to the races.

Apple NSI

Now of course, getting NSI onto a floppy can be easy, or it can be tough. It can be easy if you have managed to gain access to an existing NSI floppy, perhaps because you have one from days past, or maybe one came with your new System 6 Mac, or you were lucky enough to be able to buy one on eBay (I took this last course). It can be hard if none of the above apply and you have to find a non Macintosh way to burn an NSI .image file onto a floppy. In this case, the Windows XP CiderPress program I mentioned above can come to your aid, provided you have a Windows XP machine to run it on, and the time and the patience to figure out how to accomplish your intended task via CiderPress’ hopelessly non-intuitive user interface.

Configuration 5: Nothing, Nada, Zero: You have no other classic Macs to help you out (and thus you need to burn 800K floppies via CiderPress or like utilities) AND to really complicate matters, your new System 6 Macintosh supports ONLY 800K floppies. In this case, you are in a real pickle, since any Windows XP machines that you might run CiderPress on will only be able to support 1.4MB floppies. Your only option at this point may be to fall back to buying some premade floppies from web sites such as, which specialize in solving this very problem.

What About Using A CD-ROM?

Wait a minute, you may be thinking to yourself… what about using a CD-ROM to accomplish the loading of software onto the new System 6 machine?


Well, that is a good question, but the idea is fraught with just a few perils:

1/ The CD-ROM was not yet widely available during the reign of System 6, and so you will find very little (if any) System 6 software available via this media.

2/ You also will not find any System 6 capable machines that come with a built in CD-ROM drive. CD-ROMs simply were not part of the typical hardware lineup of the day. Happily, Apple (and others) did eventually produce external SCSI CD-ROMs that can be attached to your System 6 system, but this doesn’t really get you too far ahead – see the next peril.

3/ If you DO have an external SCSI CD-ROM that you can attach to your system, you still need to load the Apple CD-ROM support software onto the System 6 machine before it will read the CD-ROMs in question. Unfortunately, this puts you back to the problems and solutions above.

4/ Finally, to use a CD-ROM to do general-purpose software loading, you are going to have to load that software onto a CD-ROM, and thus will need to be familiar with burning CD-ROM ISO images. This is a whole separate topic that this post will not go into at this point.

As I said, just a few perils… and enough of them that I did not even consider this as a viable avenue.

Tools, Problems and Perils – Sheesh! What is the Best Approach?

SO… how do you best approach the problem of loading software onto your new System 6 Mac? Well, as I said in my last post on Getting Started With System 6, if you are new to the world of vintage Macs, I would not recommend System 6 as the best place to start. Start with a later version (I recommend Mac OS 8.1 specifically), and a matching classic Mac to run it on, and then backtrack to System 6 once you have that environment running cleanly. There are large numbers of such machines available even today on eBay, making this a very sensible and economical option.

Why a later Mac and Mac OS 8.1? The reasons are many, but the key ones are that later Macs will come with a built in CD-ROM drive and full software support for it, preloaded networking, and often, the Iomega support already included. Mac OS 8.1 is a particularly good choice because it straddles the gap between earlier versions of AppleTalk over EtherTalk and the later versions of AppleTalk over IP, making it a perfect bridge machine between the older and newer vintage Mac worlds.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Mac OS 8.1 is also the final version of Mac OS that will run on 68K Macs, making it incredibly flexible irrespective of the machine you chose. It also doesn’t hurt that Mac OS 8.1 is fairly “modern” version of Mac OS, overcoming many of the “peculiarities” of its earlier predecessors.


So, there you have it. As I said initially, getting software onto your new System 6 Mac can be really easy, or it can be really tough. I recommend attacking this problem from the vantage point of having an existing classic Mac with 800K floppy support already in place. This gives you the most direct set of approaches to accomplish the task at hand. Good luck!

This post composed on a PowerMac G5 running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger