The Power of Mac

Macs Don't Die, They Get Upgraded

Eric Schwarz - 2002.05.29

It started about two weeks ago. A friend of mine, who owns a Power Mac 6400/200, asked me if I could take a look at their printer, a StyleWriter 2500, because it wasn't working. To make this story short, the printer was dead (who knows how it happened), so the fun began.

They were looking for a new printer, and in this day and age, a Mac serial printer can hardly be found new, so more drastic measures were required.

Remembering that a friend who lives in Eugene, OR, takes care of these old 6360/6400/6500-class Macs and makes them sing and dance (so to speak), I decided that a USB printer might be a better bet. I consulted him to find out what kind of USB card would be best for this task and if this could be done on the 6400.

Even though he suggested a card by Asanté, I couldn't find one. I called MacWarehouse. They suggested that I not get the $40 Belkin model, but get the $35 Macally one. Following their advice, I bought the cheaper card and received it about four days later. I told my friend to go and get a printer at the local office-supply store. My suggestion was an Epson C60, as I have been quite impressed with mine and know it is compatible with older hardware.

On Saturday, I went over to my friend's house and got started with the installation. For logic board related tasks, the 6400 is fairly easy to work on. I just had to undo two screws and slide out the motherboard. I installed the card in one of the two PCI slots and closed the Mac back up.

I turned it on and found that they were running OS 8.5.1. No good - the USB software I had (since the card uses the default Apple software) requires OS 8.6. Next I updated their Mac to 8.6 (much more stable, too). Then I installed the Epson printer drivers and restarted the computer.

They opened up their very old copy of MS Word and tried printing a document. It worked, to their delight.

If this were a 6 or 7 year old PC, the choice would be clear - throw it out and buy a new one - but since this is a Mac (probably one with the best built-in sound system), you simply cannot throw it away. Upgrading is the only choice.

Finally (I meant to mention this last week), my iBook needs a name (since lots of people like to name their Macs, and the iBook's code names are kinda lame). If you want to, send any suggestions to me at Eric Schwarz . LEM

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