Simplicity Is Key

1999: Extensions, System Folders, ROMs – such simple things to the average Mac user. However, to the PC user, they can become your worst nightmare. At first.

Mac Metamorphosis

I left off last time where I was trying to get my Panasonic SCSI-2 CD-ROM drive to work. The cover to my Quadra 605 still laying on the floor, power cables all over the place, and an internal double-ended SCSI-2 cable looking at me saying, “Plug me in.” The CD-ROM drive was jumpered to ID 3 and terminated.

Happy MacFeeling confident about Apple’s plug and play methods (so I heard), I plugged it in, did my little power on trick, and saw the happy Mac. With the Quadra booting fine, I reached for my Mac OS 8.1 CD, put it in the tray, and closed it. The monitor then flashed with an interesting message about how it found an unrecognized disk, and it asked if I wanted to eject or initialize it. “Initialize, that sounds nice,” I thought to myself not knowing any better while clicking the welcoming “Initialize” button.

The CD spun up, and I smiled in what seemed to be my first victory in the Macintosh world. Then the drive violently spits out its tray, as if it had eaten something horrible. Another message popped up on the screen saying, “This disk cannot be initialized because it is locked”. A question mark popped up over my head and I sighed, knowing this was not going to be easy.

My first error was not taking the Macintosh at face value and instead of taking a typical PC person stance towards it. For those of you that may not know, a PC person’s first instinct when confronted with what they think is a driver/hardware problem is to rip apart the whole machine believing there is a conflict somewhere. We will not stop until all we have running is a CPU, memory, video, keyboard, and the device in question. A reformat may also take place, and then you get to spend the next 3-7 hours reinstalling your OS and all your programs.

To think, I actually got a kick out of this way back when!

After realizing that amputation was not the answer, I spent the next three nights of my life reading everything I could about ROMs and extensions. After doing some research, I decided that extensions would be the best place to begin because there was nothing I could find discussing Apple device ROMs. I started to think that these “ROMs” where just myths and lies to confuse PC users like myself.

Extensions were an extremely hard concept to grasp. “It so easy!” I can hear all you reading this shouting, but to a PC guy, it’s not. We are used to everything being complex and complicated. “Ha ha, you mean all I got to do is put this little file in my extensions folder, reboot, and presto, it works? What is Apple smoking?” I laughed at my understanding monitor. “Okay, I’ll play along with your little game. Let’s find some drivers! Err, I mean extensions.”

While shuffling through various links on Low End Mac, I happened to fall upon Pure-Mac. Pure-Mac just happened to have, not one, but two Apple CD-ROM drivers. After looking carefully, I downloaded Apple CD-ROM version 5.3.1, because they claimed it would work on some non-Apple CD-ROM drives. “What’s the difference! A driver is a driver is a driver,” my PC yelled up at me. I thought the same thing.

I transferred the binary file to my Mac and unstuffed it. Following the instructions, I placed it in my Extensions folder and rebooted. Yet once again, no dice. It simply ejected the CD, saying it couldn’t read it. Feeling helpless, I started to cruise Apple’s tech exchange. It turns out there are many people out there encountering the same problem. This is also where I learned about Apple ROMs.

Apple ROMs, to my understanding, are what make Macintosh devices truly plug and play. The ROM contains built-in code to make the device run natively without the use of external drivers. These ROMs are also proprietary; they are only found in Apple equipment. I was feeling quite down about learning this fact because I feared that I would never get my drive to work. I looked around Tech Exchange a little longer and found a link that guided me to salvation.

The link lead me to The Mac Driver Museum, and there I found a driver called Sunrise CD Driver (This driver is no longer on their site, but I have posted it on one of my sites at Following the same procedure as the Apple driver, I placed the extension in my System Folder, rebooted, and this time it did read the CD!

After jumping for joy, I began to think about my little adventure. I have to say that the Macintosh driver model is the most simplistic thing you will ever encounter. Drop it in, reboot, and it works. If you have the right driver that is.

I have also heard people complain about how the Apple ROM in devices is just proprietary garbage. It is not garbage, but a work of art. With the Apple ROM they have achieved a true plug and play environment, instead of just saying it is like the PC world.

keywords: #macroms #macdrivers #macextensions #extensions #macos