Adam's Apple

Workingwith Vintage Macs

Vintage Mac Networking and File Exchange

Adam Rosen - 2007.12.19 -Tip Jar

I deal with older (pre-G3) systems regularly, both through myconsulting work and my personal collection, the Vintage Mac Museum. Here are sometips I've found for keeping the old beasts running and exchanging datawith current systems.

Exchanging Data & Networking

Exchanging data between new and old Macs can be challenging, whetherover a network or via removable media (sneaker-net). It's oftennecessary to set up a bridging arrangement using one or moreintermediate computers to get files and software moved across Macgenerations. Macs didn't have built-in ethernet until the Quadra series, and the AppleShare AFP networkprotocol has changed over the years.

Fortunately Mac OS 8 and 9 support AppleShare IP and thus can talkto Mac OS X servers via TCP/IP. All 68040 Macs can run Mac OS 8.1,and pre-G3 PowerPC models can support flavors up through Mac OS9.2.2.

Set your Mac OS X system to a static IP address on your network andenable Personal File Sharing (choose System Preferences under the Applemenu, then Sharing). In the Chooser on the older Mac, selectAppleShare, click the AppleShare IP button, and enter your server'saddress. You'll be prompted for the login name and password (which youcan save), and the shared drive mounts on the desktop.

Jaguar and Panther Best

Mac OS X 10.2.x (Jaguar) or 10.3.x (Panther) file sharing seems towork most reliably with Mac OS 8.x and 9.x; 10.4.x and 10.5.x systemsalso work, but not as reliably, particularly with large file transfers.Apple is aware of this problem (the 10.4.11 update addresses part ofthis issue), but a 10.2.8 or 10.3.9 equipped G3 or G4 with sharingenabled makes an ideal file server to use with both older and newer MacOS versions.

Bridging LocalTalk Macs

To reach System 6 and 7 Macs that don't have ethernet, LocalTalkBridge can save the day. This free extension from Apple allows aMac equipped with both ethernet and LocalTalk (RS-422 serial) ports tobridge the two networks. The bridge Mac can talk to the older Macs viaLocalTalk (using serial cables or PhoneNet adapters) and the newer Macsvia ethernet. Enable File Sharing on the Bridge machine and you have aserver the older systems can talk to.


Sneaker-Net is also an option. Zip disks make a great transfermedium for old Macs, since drives are available in SCSI, IDE, and USBflavors; you can copy something from a Mac OS 8 or OS 9machine to a modern OS X system on a disk using HFS+ formatting.In my experience, 100 MB disks are the most reliable size and aresupported in all flavors of Zip drives.

On the lowest end, all beige Macs (68k and early PowerPC) havefloppy drives. Mac floppies came in 400K (single sided), 800K (doublesided) and 1.4 MB HD (high density) flavors. Nearly all floppy-equippedMacs can read/write 800K disks; some old models won't read HD floppies,and some newer models won't handle 400K format. USB floppy drives canbe found (also dirt cheap these days) that work with OS X, thoughyou usually need to stick with 1.4 MB HD floppies on these drives.

Quadra and PowerBook 5xx: The Ultimate Bridge Machines

PowerBook 500 seriesForthe Museum and when working with client Macs, I've found Macintosh Quadrasand PowerBook 5xx models to be theUltimate Bridge Machines. These systems have built in ethernet ports(AAUI adapter required) and RS-422 serialports for LocalTalk. Running Mac OS 8.1, they can network viaAppleShare IP to a file server running Mac OS X (be sure to setAppleTalk to the ethernet port), mounting the OS X disk on theOS 8 desktop. With LocalTalk Bridge installed and File Sharingenabled, I can then access the OS 8 disk on System 6 and System 7desktops. Copying files between, say, a Mac Plus running System 6.0.8 and a Power Mac G4 Cube running OS X 10.3.9 justinvolves a relay step via the Quadra or PowerBook.

If networking doesn't work or you need to deal with floppy disks,again the Quadra or PowerBook 5xx work handily: both have floppy drivesthat support 400K, 800K, and 1.4 MB HD disk formats. Note that somefloppy drives may not mount 400K disks on the desktop, but they canwrite 400K volumes with Disk Copy if needed.

I used all this bridging capability recently to extract a neededfile from a 400K disk image I had archived on my OS X system: copythe disk image to a PowerBook 540c over ethernet, create a 400K floppydisk with Disk Copy 4.2 on the PowerBook, read the 400K floppy in a MacPlus running System 6.0.8, copy the needed file back to the PowerBookvia LocalTalk, and then copy back to my OS X Mac via ethernet!

A lot of steps, but it's possible (and I've always loved the 540c,so I'm glad to see this model still performs useful tasks)!

More Tips and Suggestions?

I'm sure there are many other tips and suggestions on the topic ofworking with old and vintage Macs; write in to the LowEnd Mac Mailbag or contact me with your suggestions and we may do afollow-up to this column with additional ideas. LEM

This article was originally published on Adam'sOakbog website. It has beenadapted and reprinted here with his permission.

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Adam operates Oakbog Professional Services and The Vintage Mac Museum. He publishes The Vintage Mac Museum Blog. If you find Adam's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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