WallStreet PowerBook G3 with Mac OS 9, a Vintage Mac Workhorse

This is the third in a series of articles showing how Adam Rosen uses four vintage Macs to read, recover, convert, transfer, and return files to his clients. Today he looks at his PowerBook G3 WallStreet running Mac OS 9.2.2.

The PowerPC G3 CPU is ideal to run software from the final years of the Classic Mac OS era. Its design is optimized for the core assembly language routines of the Blue Box (a.k.a. System 7, Mac OS 8 and 9), and it spans a wide variety of Old World (beige) and New World (colored) Macs.

WallStreet PowerBook G3 SeriesPerhaps not surprisingly, one of the most used machines in the Vintage Mac Museum is a WallStreet PowerBook G3.

The PowerPC-based PowerBook really hit its stride with the G3-based WallStreet. Sporting a striking jet-black Batman-esque case, 14″ active matrix screen, two PC Card slots, and dual expansion bays with lots of options (CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Floppy, Zip, SuperDisk, and later CD-RW drives), the WallStreet (Apple’s internal project name) was built like a tank and is a pleasure to use. SCSI, ADB, and serial ports gives this laptop full compatibility with a wide range of peripherals and data storage formats.

The Vintage Mac Museum WallStreet is running Mac OS 9 and has a floppy drive and Zip drive installed in its expansion bays. The floppy SuperDrive can read 1.44 MB high density (HD) and 800K double density (DD) floppy disks, which are the most common formats received for old file transfers. Any troublesome 800K disks or 400K disks are shuffled over to the Mac Plus, which shares the same desk.

Because it has a SCSI port, I can also read data from both external and internal SCSI hard drives, the latter by using parts from an external drive case as an adapter or “sled” for the internal disk. Ethernet capability allows me to access the AppleShare volume on my Power Mac G4 Cube – the central server for the Vintage Mac Museum – to copy completed conversions or grab older data from the Quadra 840av.

The WallStreet does the bulk of the file format conversion work. The workhorse for these efforts is MacLink Plus, a batch conversion utility that used to be bundled free with all Macs. Most old files are either word processing or spreadsheets, and MacLink Plus can read a great variety of these formats and convert them to modern Word .doc or Excel .xls files. For older word processing formats, Word 5.1a serves as intermediate software to Save As… to the Word 5 format. Also installed are copies of MacDraw II, FileMaker 4, Photoshop 5.5, etc.

I love using the WallStreet; it’s a solid machine that holds up well over time. The keyboard is nicer than the one in Lombard and Pismo models that followed, and it’s really quite zippy running Mac OS 9.2.2. The hard drive is only 4 GB and is getting rather noisy – when prices for the new Solid State Drives (SSDs) come down a bit, I plan to pop one of these puppies inside. That should give a big boost in storage and really make this old girl fly!

Next: Power Mac G4 Cube with OS X 10.4 Tiger

This article was originally published on Adam’s Vintage Mac Museum Blog. It has been adapted and reprinted here with his permission.

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