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.

20180217_171855

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.

20180218_120302

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!

Advertisements

The Power Mac G3 All-In-One (Molar Mac)

One of the rarer Macintosh models these days is the Power Macintosh G3 All-In-One (AIO). Challenged in the beauty department, the G3 AIO is an odd looking duck, whose overall shape, when viewed head on, is not dissimilar to a human tooth, leading to its “popular” moniker of “the Molar Mac”.

power-mac-g3-all-in-one

These machines ARE fairly rare these days. Introduced on April 3rd, 1998 (and discontinued less than a year later on January 1st, 1999), the G3 AIO was very quickly succeeded in the market by the wildly popular iMac, which itself was introduced only two months after the launch of the AIO, on May 6th, 1998. This all by itself probably doomed the AIO to relative obscurity, but the effect was magnified by the fact that the G3 AIO was only sold into the educational market, severely limiting available all these years later.

The relative rarity of the Molar Mac is reflected in the price it commands on eBay. One sees these machines show up from time to time, typically priced in multiples of thousands. This is a true collector’s item. Consequently, when a new listing for a G3 AIO appeared on eBay a few weeks ago with a starting price that was relatively modest by AIO standards, I couldn’t help but jump in, fully expecting however to be outbid in moments. I am sure that the low starting price was just the seller’s effort to get the bidding started, but the higher bids simply never materialized. A week later, still the only bidder, I won the auction at the original starting price. I was dumbfounded!   … really pleased, but dumbfounded nonetheless.

My “new” G3 AIO was delivered last week, and immediately reminded me that it was the heaviest Mac that had ever been made to that time, weighing in at a hefty 59.5 lbs. I have read that it is the heaviest Mac ever made, but I have not been able to verify that fact.

molar-mac

The Molar Mac really is an “all-in-one”. Setting it up was a breeze. Connect power, keyboard/mouse and internet and turn it on. It was that easy. Everything else that would typically need wiring is included in the package.

I turned it on, not really knowing what to expect, given the odd form factor and the limited intended market. The first thing I noticed was that it is FAST… really fast. It slices through Mac OS 9.2 like a hot knife through butter. I have a 7300/200 that I have upgraded with a Sonnet 500 MHz G3 card, but it is the new G3 AIO, equipped with only a 266 MHz G3, that feels “twice as fast”.

The G3 AIO is not just fast, it is loaded as well… really! Unlike its successor, the iMac, the AIO features three PCI expansion slots, upgradeable video, an ADB port, an external SCSI port, two external headphone jacks AND an integrated microphone and finally, an optional integrated Zip drive. Both USB and Firewire can be added via the available PCI slots, and both can be used with any version of Mac OS from 8.6 upwards. I have read that Mac OS 8.5.1 may be able to support both as well, but have not yet been able to confirm the USB portion of that – Mac OS 8.5.1 definitely supports Firewire, via Firewire Enabler 2.0.

For those interested in “just the facts”, here are some key G3 AIO specs:

  • CPU: 233/266 MHz PPC 750
  • Bus: 66 MHz
  • RAM: 32 MB, expandable up to 768MB
  • VRAM: 2 MB SGRAM, expandable to 6 MB
  • Video: supports resolutions to 1024 x 768, uses ATI 2D/3D 64-bit accelerated chip set
  • Hard drive: 4 GB EIDE drive standard. Maximum IDE drive size is 128 GB without third-party support.
  • CD-ROM: 24x maximum throughput
  • 3 PCI slots
  • Microphone: standard 3.5mm mini-jack, compatible with line-level input including Apple’s PlainTalk microphone
  • ADB: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
  • Serial: 2 DIN-8 GeoPorts on back of computer
  • SCSI: DB-25 connector on back of computer
  • 10Base-T Ethernet connectors on back of computer
  • Supported Mac OS Versions

I am delighted to have this new addition to the HappyMacs Lab and am looking forward to a modicum of modification to the unit I received. For one, the optional Zip drive (internal, SCSI) is not equipped, and so I have ordered one on eBay. For another, at 4 GB, the original hard drive is a bit limiting, and so I have ordered a new, larger one. Finally, I plan to equip two of the three PCI slots with USB and Firewire cards, respectively. The resulting machine will be an incredibly fast, powerful, connected and very definitely unique addition to the lineup of Macs hosted in the lab.

I will report on progress as time and opportunity allows!