Looking at a Power Mac 7200 and Mac IIcx

1998 – CAR writes: I am the owner of three real old but still functioning Macs – a 512K Fat Mac, Mac IIcx, and Power Mac 7200.

Mac 512KI have a vintage Mac 512K (Scotty, 68000 8 MHz, brain surgery to add 1.5 MB giving 2 MB RAM, a 40 MB hard drive & ImageWriter, OS 6.0.3). I gotta be kidding right? Nope! Still working? Yup! Still in use? It still runs some old games, MacPaint, MacDraw, and an old copy of Word Perfect 1.0. That’s it . . . 🙂 I’m keeping it for sentimental reasons.

Macintosh IIcxI also have a IIcx (Murphy, 68030, 16 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 1.2 GB SCSI hard drive [the original 80 MB crashed], ext. 8x CD-ROM, HP 500c, 14.4 kbps modem, OS 7.5.5) which, unless you know of somebody selling a PowerPC chip with lots of RAM on a NuBus card, I reluctantly have to admit has reached the end of the upgrade path. My first wife is still using it for word processing until she gets an iMac for Christmas and gets a decent on-ramp to the Internet. (I’m a good ex, no?) I may get it back from her for sentimental reasons, and its 19″ gray scale screen.

I have a 7200/75 (McGuffin, PPC 601, 75 MHz, 48 MB RAM, 500 MB SCSI hard drive, 2.9 GB SCSI hard drive, 2x CD-ROM, ext. 100 MB Zip, 10Base-T, Epson 800, ISDN 3Com ‘modem’, OS 8.5. MkLinux etc.) which used to be good enough until, I bought a G3/300 (“Thor! Hier-Dali,” PPC 750, 300 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 6.0 IDE HD, 24x CD-ROM, int. 100 MB Zip, 10Base-T, Epson 1520, MIDI keyboard, Gray Scale QuickCam, int. 56kFlex modem, AV-IO, OS 8.5 MkLinux, etc.) early this year, and now “McGuffin” looks like molasses in January.

I also own a PC (Pentium, 133 MHz, 64 MB RAM. 2.9 GB IDE hard drive, 1.6 GB IDE hard drive, 10Base-T interface card, Panasonic laser, int. 36.6 modem, Color QuickCam VC, Windows 95, Red Hat Linux, etc.) but only not for my enjoyment…

Is there anything I can do to get McGuffin, the 7200/75, to at least look like its trying.

Mac Daniel writes: I can tell you’re a Mac fan from way back. I started out with a Plus, which I sold to help finance a Centris 610. At some point, I’d like to add a Plus to my collection – for sentimental reasons. [Update: I eventually reacquired my original Mac Plus from the father of the woman I had sold it to.]

I also have a IIcx with 8 MB RAM and a replacement 80 MB hard drive (used Apple hard drives can be quite inexpensive in these sizes). Either this or my Mac II will probably become the family file server when I set up a network. (BTW, you can boost a IIcx to 128 MB of memory if you use Mode 32 to enable 32-bit addressing.)

Power Mac 7500As for McGuffin, your relatively modern 7200/75, my advice is to replace it with something that can take a G3 upgrade, such as a Power Mac 7500. In today’s used Mac market, you would be better off buying a used 7500 and selling the 7200 than buying a 7500 motherboard (less CPU card) to drop into your 7200.

As for the PC, I can only be grateful that you’re working with Linux on it. That operating system from Redmond is a nightmare! 😉

CAR writes: Well, it looks like another Mac is going on the shelf. . . . if I don’t want McGuffin, why should anyone else? 🙂 I’m developing quite a collection. Maybe I’ll donate it to a computer museum. Nah!. Who am I kidding? The only reason I ever got rid of my Apple ][ and my Osborne 1 in the beige “Sewing Machine” case was dire economic necessity (I was younger and less successful then.)

I’m wondering how responsive the Murphy the IIcx would be as a file server. I do use Mode32 on it, but it’s only a 16 MHz 68030 with 1 GB hard drive, so it’s too slow and small (I have worked with Sun UltraSPARC boxes with terabytes on ’em (yes, both are plural 🙂 and it has definitely warped my judgment.) Not to mention the IIcx has been led down an OS dead-end. The 7200/75 with System 8.5 and/or MkLinux would give me more storage, should be more responsive and not take much more space on the shelf. I just gotta find a SCSI tape back-up unit.

I might as well buy a couple of iMacs and make the ex-wife and the current wife happy. Ouch! My credit limit gonna take quite a hit. I need two machines. (Mac Zone just made a bundle of dough.) At least I get to name them: I dub thee: iRidescent and iConoclast.

Mac Daniel writes: I wouldn’t suggest using any 16 MHz Mac as a file server if you have an alternative, although they would still be preferable to an 8 MHz Mac. (Yes, even a Mac Plus can be used as an adequate file server in some settings.)

The IIcx is a very reliable computer. With System 7.5.5, Mode32, and 8 MB or more RAM, it can make a decent (albeit slow) file server, especially if you have an ethernet network. But the real bottleneck is the SCSI bus on the Mac II, IIx, IIcx, and SE/30 – it tops out at 1.4-1.5 MBps. (So does the otherwise “wicked fast” IIfx.)

The least Mac I would choose for a file server would be the IIsi or IIci, which have SCSI throughput in the 2.0-2.1 MBps range. Of course, a Quadra would be even better, since that family hits 3.4 MBps over SCSI.

But that’s a bit academic. You have a IIcx with a nice 1 GB hard drive. And it would make an okay server for a home network.

On the other hand, the Power Mac 7200/75 would make a far better server, especially with Mac OS 8.5 finally unleashing the PowerPC with native SCSI and networking drivers. And if you haven’t filled the spare drive bay on your 7200, you could drop in the 1 GB drive from your IIcx to increase server storage capacity.

If you have a full-time Internet connection (not common, but some users do) with a fixed IP address, the IIcx could make a perfectly adequate Web server with NetPresenz. I’ve run this program very comfortably on a Mac II.

Why does it work well as a Web server (or even an email server)? Because the Internet itself is the bottleneck. Studies show that the typical bandwidth of the Internet is about 128-256 Kbps – about twice what a 56k modem is capable of. There are exceptions, but this is the average today.

As for the iMac, I’d love one of those myself – if only to keep the kids and their MAME, iNES, and other emulators and games off my SuperMac.

Keywords: #mac512k #maciicx #powermac7200

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