Building on the success of the Mac IIx, the 1989 IIcx offered the same horsepower in a smaller case. This was made possible by eliminating 3 NuBus slots and using a smaller (90W) power supply.
Although advertised as a 32-bit computer, the Mac IIx ROMs were “dirty,” containing some 24-bit code. Running in 32-bit mode requires Mode32 (search the page for “mode32”).
“The Mac IIcx has more potential to be a breakout machine for Apple than even the original Mac II. The latter showed that Apple could slug it out, head-to-head, with the muscle machines of the DOS world. The IIcx shows that Apple has learned to fit that raw power into the world of the office.” – Jim Seymour, MacUser, August 1989.
But the breakthrough here was that Apple designed the IIcx so it could be easily manufactured without using tools.
The Mac IIcx will not boot without a good PRAM battery installed.
- Got a Mac II or other vintage Mac? Join our Vintage Macs Group or Vintage Macs Forum.
- Our System 6 Group and System 6 Forum are for anyone using Mac System 6.
- Our System 7 Forum is for those using Mac System 7.
Considering the cost of a used IIci or Quadra 700, it’s more economical to replace the IIcx than replace just motherboard – and you don’t have to worry about modifying your case to make the new motherboard fit.
- If you’re content with performance but running out of memory, RAM is pretty affordable. Go to at least 8 MB – and buy 80ns or faster in case you upgrade to a IIci motherboard later on.
- Consider a used Mac IIci motherboard ($10 or so). This provides almost twice the performance and the option of built-in video. If you have 80ns or faster RAM, you can drop it right into the IIci’s SIMM sockets. Note that you will have to perform surgery on your case with this motherboard upgrade.
- LOW END MAC BEST BUY Buy a used Mac IIci (starting at less than $20 depending on configuration). For a little more than buying just the motherboard, you’ll usually get 8 MB RAM and an 80 MB hard drive. If you have more RAM in your IIcx – and it’s fast enough for the IIci – you can transfer it to the new computer. And you’ll still have your IIcx as a spare computer.
- Quadra 700 motherboards are somewhat rare and only have two NuBus slots. For that level of performance, consider a IIci upgrade plus a 68040 accelerator (see IIci page for options). Note that you will have to perform surgery on your case with this motherboard upgrade.
- A newer hard drive will be larger and faster than the one Apple shipped with the computer, but you won’t be able to take full advantage of that speed on such an old computer.
- If you want to run a larger monitor, support other bit depths, or have accelerated video, check out our Guide to NuBus Video Cards. There are lots to choose from, and many of them are dirt cheap on the used market.
- introduced 1989.03.07 at $5,369; discontinued 1991.03.11
- code names: Aurora, Cobra, Atlantic
- model no.: M5650
- Gestalt ID: 8
- addressing: 24-bit, 32-bit requires Mode32
- upgrade path: IIci, Quadra 700 (case must be modified to make room for video port)
- requires System 6.0.3 to 7.5.5
- CPU: 16 MHz 68030
- FPU: 16 MHz 68882
- ROM: 256 KB
- RAM: 1 MB, expandable to 128 MB using both 4-SIMM banks of 120ns 30-pin memory; uses only 256 KB, 1 MB, 4 MB, and 16 MB SIMMs (requires MODE 32 to go past 8 MB)
- 2.9, relative to SE
- 3.9 MIPS
- 4.2, Speedometer 3
- 0.26, Speedometer 4
- see Benchmarks: IIcx for more details
- video: requires video card – see our Guide to NuBus Video Cards for more information.
- Hard drive: 40 or 80 MB
- floppy drive: 1.4 MB double-sided
- floppy connector on back of computer
- ADB ports: 2
- serial ports: 2 DIN-8 RS-422 ports on back of computer
- SCSI ports: DB-25 connector on back of computer
- sound: 8-bit stereo
- NuBus slots: 3
- size (HxWxD): 5.5″ x 11.9″ x 14.5″
- Weight: 13.6 lbs.
- PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
- power supply: 159W
Accelerators & Upgrades
- Apple Macintosh IIci motherboard (25 MHz 68030)
- Apple Macintosh Quadra 700 motherboard (25 MHz 68040)
- Daystar Turbo 040 (33 MHz, 40 MHz 68040), discontinued
- MicroMac Diimo/030 (50 MHz 68030), 64 KB cache, optional 50 MHz 68882 FPU
- MicroMac Carrera (33 MHz and 40 MHz 68040), optional 128 KB cache
- MicroMac 90 MHz Carrera (45 MHz 68040)
Discontinued accelerators (68030 unless otherwise noted) include the Applied Engineering TransWarp (25, 33 MHz 68040), DayStar Universal PowerCache (33, 40, 50 MHz), Radius Rocket (25, 33 MHz 68040), and TechWorks NuBus (33 MHz 68040).
- Guide to the Macintosh II Series, an overview of the Mac II family.
- Low End Mac’s Best Classic Mac OS Deals. Best online prices for System 6, 7.1, 7.5.x, Mac OS 7.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 9.0, 9.2.2, and other versions.
- Know Your Mac’s Upgrade Options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Creating Classic Mac Boot Floppies in OS X, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2008.08.07. Yes, it is possible to create a boot floppy for the Classic Mac OS using an OS X Mac that doesn’t have Classic. Here’s how.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Tales of old Mac data retrieval, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2008.06.13. Getting apps and documents off 400K floppies, old disk images, and a Mac running System 5.
- A Vintage Mac Network Can Be as Useful as a Modern One, Carl Nygren, My Turn, 2008.04.08. Old Macs can exchange data and share an Internet connection very nicely using Apple’s old LocalTalk networking.
- Vintage Mac Networking and File Exchange, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.19. How to network vintage Macs with modern Macs and tips on exchanging files using floppies, Zip disks, and other media.
- Vintage Mac Video and Monitor Mania, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.17. Vintage Macs and monitors didn’t use VGA connectors. Tips on making modern monitors work with old Macs.
- Getting Inside Vintage Macs and Swapping Out Bad Parts, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.14. When an old Mac dies, the best source of parts is usually another dead Mac with different failed parts.
- Solving Mac Startup Problems, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.12. When your old Mac won’t boot, the most likely culprits are a dead PRAM battery or a failed (or failing) hard drive.
- Was the Macintosh IIci the best Mac ever?, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.01.19. Introduced in 1989, the Mac IIci was fast, had integrated video, included 3 expansion slots, and could be upgraded in myriad ways.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Better and Safer Surfing with Internet Explorer and the Classic Mac OS, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.11.06. Tips on which browsers work best with different Mac OS versions plus extra software to clean cookies and caches, detect viruses, handle downloads, etc.
- Simple Macs for Simple Tasks, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2007.10.19. Long live 680×0 Macs and the classic Mac OS. For simple tasks such as writing, they can provide a great, low distraction environment.
- Replacing the Hard Drive in a Mac IIcx, IIci, and Quadra 700
- Interchangeabilty and Compatibility of Apple 1.4 MB Floppy SuperDrives, Sonic Purity, Mac Daniel, 2007.09.26. Apple used two kinds of high-density floppy drives on Macs, auto-inject and manual inject. Can they be swapped?
- Vintage Macs provide a less distracting writing environment, Brian Richards, Advantage Mac, 2007.09.18. A Mac OS X user finds an old Macintosh IIsi and discovers the joy of writing undisturbed by music, messaging, and streaming content.
- Mac System 7.5.5 Can Do Anything Mac OS 7.6.1 Can, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.06.04. Yes, it is possible to run Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and SoundJam with System 7.5.5. You just need to have all the updates – and make one modification for SoundJam.
- Format Any Drive for Older Macs with Patched Apple Tools, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.04.25. Apple HD SC Setup and Drive Setup only work with Apple branded hard drives – until you apply the patches linked to this article.
- Project Quadra: Building a FrankenMac from a Quadra 700, IIci, and IIvx, Joseph Burke, My Turn, 2007.04.19. How a found Mac IIci plus an eBayed Q700 mainboard ended up in a Mac IIvx found at a neighbor’s yard sale.
- Making floppies and CDs for older Macs using modern Macs, Windows, and Linux PCs, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.03.15. Older Macs use HFS floppies and CDs. Here are the free resources you’ll need to write floppies or CDs for vintage Macs using your modern computer.
- The legendary Apple Extended Keyboard, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.10.13. Introduced in 1987, this extended keyboard was well designed and very solidly built. It remains a favorite of long-time Mac users.
- 30 days of old school computing: No real hardships, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.10.11. These old black-and-white Macs are just fine for messaging, word processing, spreadsheets, scheduling, contact management, and browsing the Web.
- Jag’s House, where older Macs still rock, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.09.25. Over a decade old, Jag’s House is the oldest Mac website supporting classic Macs and remains a great resource for vintage Mac users.
- Vintage Macs with System 6 run circles around 3 GHz Windows 2000 PC, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.07.06. Which grows faster, hardware speed or software bloat? These benchmarks show vintage Macs let you be productive much more quickly than modern Windows PCs.
- Floppy drive observations: A compleat guide to Mac floppy drives and disk formats, Scott Baret, Online Tech Journal, 2006.06.29. A history of the Mac floppy from the 400K drive in the Mac 128K through the manual-inject 1.4M SuperDrives used in the late 1990s.
- Moving files from your new Mac to your vintage Mac, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2006.06.13. Old Macs use floppies; new ones don’t. Old Macs use AppleTalk; Tiger doesn’t support it. New Macs can burn CDs, but old CD drives can’t always read CD-R. So how do you move the files?
- System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6: The beginning and end of an era, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.02.15. System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6 introduced many new features and greater modernity while staying within reach of most early Macintosh models.
- Turning an LC or other ancient Mac into a webcam with a QuickCam, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.01.25. As long as it has 4 MB of RAM and a hard drive, any 16 MHz or faster Mac that supports color can be configured as a webcam.
- System 7: Bigger, better, more expandable, and a bit slower than System 6, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.01.04. The early versions of System 7 provide broader capability for modern tasks than System 6 while still being practical for even the lowliest Macs.
- Web browser tips for the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.01.03. Tips on getting the most out of WaMCom, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, iCab, Opera, and WannaBe using the classic Mac OS.
- The Joy of Six: Apple’s fast, svelte, reliable, and still usable System 6, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.12.06. System 6 was small enough to run quickly from an 800K floppy yet powerful enough to support 2 GB partitions, 24-bit video, and the Internet.
- The legendary DayStar Turbo 040 hot rods 68030 Macs, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.11.29. DayStar’s vintage upgrade can make an SE/30 and most models in the Mac II series faster than the ‘wicked fast’ Mac IIfx.
- Which system software is best for my vintage Mac?, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.11.22. Which system software works best depends to a great extent on just which Mac you have and how much RAM is installed.
- It’s Too Cool, Maria Langer, 2004.12.17. “Back in those days, the Mac IIcx was hot. It was one of the first Macs to offer a color monitor option….”
- Macintosh II Family Technical Overview, darknerd, Angelfire. Some excellent, rarely discussed technical details on the whole Mac II lineup.
- Illustrated Mac IIci teardown, Steve Wood, Busman’s Holiday. Step-by-step instructions for getting inside the IIci, which is very similar to the IIcx.
- Games for ‘030s, Brian Rumsey, Low End Mac Gaming, 5/26. A look at games that run nicely on the old 68030-based Macs.
- Why Should I Choose System 6 for the Mac II Family?, Manuel Mejia, Mac Daniel. If they can use System 7, why use System 6?
- System 6 for the Macintosh, Ruud Dingemans. If you have an older, slower, memory-limited Mac, System 6 is fast, stable, and still very usable.
- History of computer design: Macintosh IIcx, Apple and the History of Personal Computer Design, Ed Tracy, 1997/98.
- Faster browsing on older Macs, Online Tech Journal
- Information on 32-bit addressing
- Memory upgrade guide
- Links to System 6.0.8 and 7.0.1
- The Once and Future Mac286 Page on the Web, John Rushmeyer. All about the AST Mac286 card.
- Macintosh IIcx press release, Apple, April 1989
- Macintosh IIcx Technical Specifications, Apple Knowledge Base Archive
- Never connect an Apple II 5.25″ floppy drive to the Mac’s floppy port. Doing so can ruin the floppy controller, meaning you can’t even use the internal drive any longer.
- Mode32 or Apple’s 32-bit Enabler required to access more than 8 MB RAM. (Mode32 v7.5 works with System 7.5; Apple’s enabler does not.)
- Serial port normally restricted to 57.6 kbps; throughput with a 56k modem may be limited. See 56k modem page. For more information on Mac serial ports, read Macintosh Serial Throughput in our Online Tech Journal.
- Internal video on the IIci and IIsi, and the Mac II mono and color video cards, will not work with multisync monitors, whether Apple or PC style. Griffin Technology made the Mac 2 Series Adapter, which works with Apple’s Multiple Scan monitors and most Mac compatible monitors. There was also a version for using VGA-type monitors on older Macs.
- Apple discontinued support and parts orders for the IIcx on 1998.08.31. You may be able to find dealers with parts inventory either locally or on our parts and service list.
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