No FileMaker 5 Here

1999: After looking over the requirements for deploying FileMaker 5, my employer has decided to cancel the upgrade order. We have a network of about 80 Macs, most running System 7.5.5 and many running 68040 processors (including IIcis with Sonnet upgrades), and everyone uses FileMaker with shared databases on our file server. The cost of hardware and OS upgrades for compatibility with FileMaker 5 is just too high.

FileMaker pulled a fast one – the new version of FileMaker requires a PowerPC Mac with Mac OS 7.6 or later.

That’s a problem. Most of our computers, including most of our Power Macs, are using System 7.5.5. And we have a number of computers that are not PowerPC-based Macs – these would have to be replaced before we could deploy FileMaker 5.

Older Macs

We have retired or relocated most of our oldest Macs, but the following Macs still in daily use can’t run FileMaker 5:

Of these machines, only the FTP server, a Quadra 800, would not need to be replaced.

The 10 desktop machines could be replaced by new Power Macs ($1,599 and up), iMacs ($1,199 and up), or used computers. Small Dog Electronics recently took a number of Power Mac 6100/60s with 8 MB memory, 230 MB hard drive, and CD-ROM back from lease. They were selling them for $189 plus shipping. (Sold out.)

These would need to be upgraded immediately to 40 MB of memory to match our standard 6100 configuration and provide enough memory to run our usual set of applications. Recent memory upgrades to other 6100s cost $80 per machine, but memory prices have been increasing lately, so this price may no longer apply.

We would also need an AAUI ethernet adapter for each of these Power Macs, at a cost of $39 each, bringing the total cost per computer to $308.

Multiply this by 10 computers, and our cost to replace desktop computers that can’t run FileMaker 5 comes to $3,080.


Then there are the four PowerBooks. The least expensive ‘Book made is the iBook. With a memory upgrade and carrying case, these would cost about $1,775 each, or $7,100 for four.

On top of that, we would need to update the new 6100s and most of our existing Macs to Mac OS 7.6 or later. One vendor recently had a deal with Mac OS 8.1 at $19 per copy. Subtracting the iBooks, which would come with Mac OS 8.6, we would need to purchase 60 copies of Mac OS 8.1. Our total cost would be $1,140.


The total cost of switching to FileMaker 5 – exclusive of the program itself – is $11,320. We could recoup some of this by selling off older computers, but only the PowerBooks have much value at this point.

Worse, the used Power Macs we would be buying are already over five years old, so they would have less usable life than newer, more expensive Macs.

In the final analysis, the cost of upgrading to FileMaker 5 has risen from $9,000 for the program itself to over $20,000 for software and hardware. Considering how well FileMaker 4 is serving our needs, we should stick with it and obtain a refund from FileMaker.

Update: In the end, FileMaker Inc. agreed to refund our money.

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