I had been on the lookout for another Mac to add to my collection. My wife had led me to believe that if I was so inclined to pick up another, that it should be free or very close to it. I posted some ads on the local buy/sell Facebook groups and even on the Low End Mac Swap List. I had a few offers from the LEM Swap List, but they weren’t what I was looking for. I wanted a fast 68K powered Mac.
The Mac IIfx is by far my favorite from that generation of Macs. Anything that was coined with “wicked fast” had to be great, and I’ve never used a 68040 before, which also leads me to my next favorite 68k powered computer – the Quadra 900/950.
The case of the Quadra 900/950 is just ginormous. It was also the first Mac to have 6 expansion slots since the IIfx. I was really looking to find something to experiment with, and lots of expansion slots in a big ‘ole case would be perfect.
After a few weeks without a hit, I resorted to freecycle. For those that have never heard of freecycle, it is an email group that helps keep things out of landfills by donating to people that would use them. Boy, did my quarry fit this. I would be more than happy to drive somewhere to take a 20+ year old Mac that was sitting around collecting dust off someone’s hands. I was contacted by a local saying he had an old Mac and a printer that I could have. Score! We arranged a time and date for pickup, and I left to get the combo a few days later.
When I got there I was met at the door with a loaded compact Mac carry case with a keyboard sticking out of the top. It obviously wasn’t the enormous tower or the 68040 powered speed demon I was searching for, but a free Mac is a free Mac. He returned to the door with an ImageWriter II and a desktop storage case with a bunch of 3.5” floppy disks. I thanked him kindly and took my new toys to my van.
Upon further inspection of my new finds, I found my new Mac to be an SE with 1 MB of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive. It and it’s accompanying keyboard and mouse were slightly yellowed, but I’ve come to expect that.
The Imagewriter came with the printer cable, a ribbon, and a piece of paper jammed into it. I unjammed the printer and powered it on. No error lights were lit up, they were all green.
The SE started up quickly to a relatively clean System 4 desktop. The mouse didn’t like to be tethered through the keyboard, but when I plugged each of them into their own ADB port, everything worked fine. Waiting in the box of disks were Aldus Pagemaker, HyperCard, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft File.
I smoothed the old single piece of paper out as best I could, spun the printer ribbon around a few times and opened up Microsoft Word on the SE. I wrote the word test and tried my test print. After a few seconds, the printer ground to life and spat out the crinkled page with the faded word test in the upper left corner. Success!
I used my MacBook and Power Mac 6100/66 to copy a set of System 6.0.8 disks and got to updating to the venerable System 6. I had to first download the disk images from the Apple site and rip them onto a CD, and then make bootable floppy images on the 6100. After it was complete, my son and I played a few games I had for the old girl, namely Dark Castle and Shuttlepuck Cafe.
When my wife arrived home from her shopping trip, I attempted to have a ‘”power on” race with her new Asus laptop loaded with Windows 8.1. I shut down my SE, flipped the switch off and then back on. I was greeted to nearly complete silence as the over 25-year-old 20 MB SCSI drive spun down and failed to spin back up.
I popped in Disk 2 of System 6.0.8, as this has a bootable System Folder and the hard drive utility. It couldn’t find anything on the SCSI bus. After multiple reboots that all resulted in the image of a floppy disk with a question mark on it, I flipped its power button to the off position and left it alone. Of course, my wife blames herself and her “negative tech juju”, but the truth is she didn’t kill my hard drive with her negativity. It had more than likely developed a case of stiction. This is where the lubrication the helps the head move across the hard drive platters becomes thicker, and it can actually cause the head to stick to the platter and render it inoperable.
My little SE works just fine from the floppy drive. I don’t have an external floppy, and it’s extremely annoying flipping those in and out all the time to try to use it. Since I don’t have one of the longer T15 screw drivers to open up the case, this is where the story ends for now.
On the next installment of the SE Experience, I will document the hard drive replacement, solder joint inspection, and memory upgrade.
Keywords: #macse #macintoshse #macpackrat
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