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.


Network Your Classic Macintosh with Windows, Part 2: Using DoubleTalk

Network Your Classic Macintosh with Windows, Part 2: Using DoubleTalk

In the first post of our series on networking your classic Macintosh with Windows, we examined the use of Thursby Software’s Dave, and found it more than equal to the task. In this post, we will look at use of Connectix DoubleTalk, the other classic solution in this space. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, it might be useful to go back and check out at least the initial paragraphs, as they lay out some background details that will make what follows a lot more understandable.

Alright, let’s network with DoubleTalk! It is important to know that DoubleTalk is more limited than Dave – it only provides an SMB client. This means that a DoubleTalk-equipped Mac can read and write files to and from a Windows machine, but a Windows machine cannot even see a DoubleTalk equipped Mac on the network, much less read and write files to and from it. BTW, you can download a copy of DoubleTalk from the always valuable Macintosh Garden, at

DoubleTalk. Install Folder

DoubleTalk may only provide a one way Mac -> PC connection, but even a one way connection is quite valuable, and I am pleased to report that DoubleTalk does a very good job at providing it, at least after a little jiggling to get around the “blank list of shares” problem.

Installing and Configuring DoubleTalk

Installation and configuration was simple and fast, and finding Windows machines on the network was as seamless as selecting the AppleShare DoubleTalk Workgroup zone in Chooser. The available PCs obligingly showed up in the right hand pane, ready to be mounted and used.

DoubleTalk Workgroup Zone, DP200 Highlighted

At this point however, the “empty list of shares” problem raised it head, as it did with Dave in Part 1 of this series. When I selected the PC of interest (Dualpro200), DoubleTalk presented me with a blank list of available shares, leaving me with nothing to connect to. I could “see” the PC of interest, but could not connect to any shares on it.

DoubleTalk Share List, Blank

As we saw in Part 1 of this series, this problem was easily resolved at the PC end of the link, by reducing the share name length of the PC’s shared folder to 12 characters or less. However, the workaround to the “empty list of shares” problem is instructive, and so we carry on as if we had not solved the problem in this manner.

Unlike Dave, there is no Add Share button in DoubleTalk, and thus it would appear that you are stuck. Happily, this is not the case. The copy of DoubleTalk that I downloaded from the Macintosh Garden included both Version 1.0 of DoubleTalk and a Version 1.1 updater. I had installed both and so was running Version 1.1. Consulting the documentation that came with Version 1.1 (excellent, by the way), I discovered that Version 1.1 added support for something called the DoubleTalk Mounter, a capability that is functionally identical to Dave’s Add Shares button.

Available from DoubleTalk’s control strip module, the Mounter pops up a dialog that allows you to directly type in the names of shares that you want to mount. These are the same share names discussed in Part 1 of this series, in the “blank list of shares” portion of the Dave description.

There is one caveat. The names have to be entered as fully qualified network names, including both the computer name and the share name on that computer, together as a single path name. The computer name is the name you assigned to the PC in its Network Control Panel, preceded by two back slashes, and the share name is the same share name mentioned above. Putting this together, for the PC named Dualpro200, and the share on that computer named DP200-SMB, the fully qualified path name would be “\\Dualpro200\DP200-SMB”.

Just as with Dave, one by one I entered the share names of interest into the DoubleTalk Mounter:

DoubleTalk Mounter

and DoubleTalk took them all.

Networking with DoubleTalk: Mac to PC

Once the above was taken care of, mounting PC shares was a simple and seamless exercise with Chooser, identical in operation to Mac OS based server connections.
Reading and writing files on the Windows machine was an intuitive exercise in drag and drop and was identical to doing the same with Mac files and folders. All in all, DoubleTalk provides a very simple and usable experience that achieved the desired result of trading files between a Classic Mac and a Windows machine, if only in one direction. Mac to PC networking via DoubleTalk was up and running!

DP200SMB on Desktop

Networking with DoubleTalk – Summary

With Mac to PC networking fully up and running, I can now summarize the recipe for success with DoubleTalk:

  • On the PC side, make sure that you have one or more shared folders, and take note of the “Share Name” name you assign to each. Keep the filename of each shared folder to 12 characters or less.
  • Still on the PC side, if you CANNOT keep the share names to 12 characters or less (perhaps the machine is not under your control), compensate for this on the Macintosh side. On the Macintosh side, when you use Chooser to select the PC, if you are greeted with a blank list of available shares, use DoubleTalk’s Mounter to manually add the shares whose names you took note of in the last step.

    If you have to use Mounter to add your shares, you will have to repeat this step each time unfortunately. Unlike Dave, DoubleTalk does not remember the names between sessions.

  • That’s it! Apply the above and you should be happily networking between a Macintosh running DoubleTalk and a PC running Windows NT 4.0.

Closing Thoughts

That’s it! This completes our roundup of “classic” solutions to the Mac-Windows file sharing need. In Part 1 of this series, we have looked at Thursby’s Dave and in this post, Part 2 of the series, we have looked at Connectix’s DoubleTalk. This author recommends Thursby’s Dave for people wishing to network their classic Mac with a Windows machine, but as we have seen above, Connectix DoubleTalk does a very able job as well, albeit in one direction only.

In the next post in this series, we will look at using a Mac OS Classic FTP server to enable Windows (and Linux as well!) to access files on a Mac, complemented by a Mac OS Classic FTP client to enable the same in reverse. Until then, Happy Networking with EITHER Dave or DoubleTalk!