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!



Pimp My Ride – Upgrading a Power Macintosh 7300 – Series Wrap Up

Pimp My Ride 10

Welcome to the summation of our “pimp my ride” series. In this series, we have looked at upgrading a Power Macintosh 7300/200. We have upgraded the video card, the CPU and both the hard drive itself and the hard drive interface (from SCSI to IDE). Reviewing the full set of results we have achieved, one upgrade really stands out from the rest: the CPU. Our results clearly demonstrate that to get the biggest “bang for your upgrade buck”, you should upgrade the CPU. This is the highest impact single step you can take. No other single upgrade delivers such dramatic across-the-board improvements.

PowerPC G3

What about the other upgrades? The other upgrades we undertook helped, but none to the extent of the CPU upgrade. Upgrading the video card was nice, but it did not produce that much observable impact in day-to-day use of the computer (unless you are a gamer). Upgrading the hard drive from SCSI to IDE delivered modest improvements in boot time, and also delivered somewhere between 1.5X and 2X reduction in program launch time, definitely making it a good second upgrade step to take. However, in the final analysis, only the CPU upgrade made significant, observable, day-to-day improvements across the board: boot time, program launch time, general responsiveness and so on.

So there you have it. In this series, we started with a stock Power Macintosh 7300/200 and step-by-step, upgraded the video card, the CPU and the hard drive. Of these upgrades, the single largest bang for the buck is the CPU upgrade.

Want to speed up your Power Macintosh? Hit eBay and start searching for Sonnet G3 and Sonnet G4 CPU upgrade cards. Find a good one, install it, and strap on your goggles and driving gloves – you are in for a high speed computing experience!

Goggles and Gloves

The Highest Version of Photoshop for the Last Version of Mac OS Classic

The Highest Version of Photoshop for the Last Version of Mac OS Classic

At various times over the life of this blog, I have brought you information on the highest version of Photoshop that would run on a 68K Mac (Photoshop 4), the highest version of Photoshop that would run on a PowerPC Mac (Photoshop CS4) and in today’s post, I complete this trilogy by bringing you information about the highest version of Photoshop that will run on the last version of Mac OS Classic – Mac OS 9.x.

This might not seem particularly “blog-worthy”, but I thought it just might be, since for a very long time I have been laboring under the misapprehension that the highest version of Photoshop that I could run on Mac OS 9.x was Photoshop 6. Just in case any of the rest of you are also under this impression, I thought I would publish this little tidbit. The Photoshop 6 maximum is the case for Mac OS 9.0, but it turns out that this is not the case for later versions of Mac OS 9. The highest version of Photoshop that you can run on Mac OS 9.1 and above is Photoshop 7.

Photoshop 7 Logo

I found out about this via the unlikely route of seeing a nearly “new in box” version of Photoshop 7 for Macintosh advertised on eBay. In the photo accompanying the listing, there was a sticker clearly visible on the box that stated compatibility with Mac OS 9. A little research on Adobe’s web site rounded out the details of this story: Mac OS 9.1 and above.

Photoshop 7 System Requirements - Mac OS

At an unbelievably low initial asking price of only $30, of course I bid on it, and improbably, no one else countered. I won Photoshop 7 for Macintosh for $30 and free shipping. Back in 2006, Photoshop 7 would have set me back nearly $650. It is amazing how time changes things.

Despite the “PowerPC G3, G4, or G4 dual processor” requirement shown above, I was able to successfully install and run Photoshop 7 on my Power Macintosh 7300/200, under Mac OS 9.1. For those not intimately familiar with the specifications of the Power Macintosh 7300/200, it features a humble 200 MHz PowerPC 604e, one of the immediately predecessors of the PowerPC G3.

PowerMac 7300-200 Image

How does it perform? Photoshop 7 takes 20s or so to launch on this machine, but after that, performance feels snappy and responsive. Given the launch time, it is clearly not the application you turn to for a quick image modification or for a simple format change from say GIF to JPEG for an image, but when you need more involved image manipulation, Photoshop 7 is a powerhouse, and well worth the launch time delay.

So there you have it! For Mac OS 9.1 and above, the highest version of Photoshop you can run is Photoshop 7!

Rare Macs: Centris 660AV, Power Macintosh 7300/200

Rare Macs: Centris 660AV, Power Macintosh 7300/200

Since I began working with vintage Macs (several years now), I have been watching eBay for the Power Macintosh 7300/200. For years I have watched, and for years I have been unable to find one. This all changed a month or so ago (finally!), but it put me in the mind of another truly rare vintage Mac, the Centris 660AV. This post is a minor digression about these two machines, both apparently in very short supply these days.

The 25 MHz 68040-based Centris 660AV was introduced in July 1993, alongside its larger running mate, the Quadra 840AV. Brand confusion was rampant at the time, with Apple having so many different lines and models simultaneously on the market that it was hard to know what was what. In part to resolve this sort of problem, Apple quite suddenly rebranded the Centris 660AV to the Quadra 660AV. Same machine, new brand. This rebranding occurred in October 1993, making the “Centris 660AV” moniker one of the shortest lived Apple models names ever, at only 4 months of market presence.

Macintosh Centris 660av

Like the Power Macintosh 7300/200 that I mentioned at the start of this post, the Centris 660AV has been a hard machine to find on eBay, although I have seen the odd one now and then. Most recently, just last month, one finally appeared on eBay (and then quickly disappeared as well – you have to keep an eagle eye out in this business!). If you are looking for one of these collector’s items, you will need to be patient, scan eBay often, and act quickly when you find one.

This brings me to the Power Macintosh 7300/200. One does see the odd Power Macintosh 7300/180 on eBay, but the 200 MHz version seems to be nearly impossible to find. Its short market life may partially explain this. Introduced February 1997, the Power Macintosh 7300 was discontinued only a short number of months later, in November of the same year, yielding a total market availability of only 10 months. This short market cycle, coupled with the availability of a lower cost 180 MHz version may account for the scarcity of 200 MHz models.

The Power Macintosh 7300 featured the newest PowerPC 604e processor, and was available in North America in the 180 MHz and 200 MHz models mentioned above. An additional a 166 MHz model was also available in Europe and Asia.


After years of searching for the 200 MHz model, my luck finally changed for the better last month, when a fully operational 200 MHz Power Macintosh 7300 finally showed up on eBay, and for the princely sum of only $39.99. I bid right away, but given the rarity of the model, I expected a vicious bidding war to ensue. Much to my surprise, I was opposed by only one other bidder, who obligingly bowed out after only one round. Net result: I won the auction for only $58.88!

The machine showed up at my home a week or so later, and was in excellent condition. I opened it up, reseated the CPU card, which had almost come out of its slot, checked to ensure that the RAM and VRAM cards were firmly in place and finally checked all the motherboard connectors. All was well. The machine fired up right away with a vigorous startup chime and booted into Mac OS 9.0.4.

Power Macintosh 7300 200, Happy Macs Lab

An added bonus is that there was a second hard drive in the machine (both drives are 2.1 GB) with a full Debian 3.0 Linux on it. While this was a real treat, it is a limited one, as I don’t have any of the userids and passwords for it, and thus no way to get into it. I am still working on that one – I have found a Linux Live CD for PPC that may allow me to poke around and break in. That will be the topic for another post.

Meantime however, I discovered an ext2/3 driver for Mac OS 9 today, quite by accident. You can download it as well, from Once installed, I should be able to view the second Linux hard drive directly from Mac OS 9, or at least that is the hope.

Things are not perfect however. This machine has a problem that was all too common at the time. The two hard drives are loud, LOUD, LOUD! The machine as it currently is would be intolerable to work with for any period of time.

Too Loud

That set me off on a hunt for a 50 pin SCSI hard drive with quieter specs. I eventually found one on eBay with excellent acoustic numbers and ordered it. It is 18 GB, which is nearly authentic for the period, so it will do. It is likely a 1999 drive, which could easily have been added to a 1997 computer during its operational lifetime.


When it arrives, I will begin the job of upgrading the machine to the new hard drive. I am going to try to find a way to simply clone the contents of the hard drive that is currently installed onto the new drive, but if not, I will put a clean install of Mac OS 9.1 onto it (I have an install CD for it already).

That’s it for this post. Two rare vintage Macs have both shown up on eBay recently, and I thought that they deserved mention in this forum.