SuperMac was once a major player in the Macintosh video market, building graphics cards, monitors, and the legendary Video Spigot. SuperMac was acquired by Radius, it’s primary competitor in this market, in 1994.
The SuperMac brand was later acquired by Umax, a company best known for its scanners (only Hewlett Packard sold more, yet Umax chose to leave the scanner market in 2002), and used to launch its Umax SuperMac line of authorized Macintosh clones, which was an outgrowth of the Radius line of Mac clones.
Macintosh Repository has a stuffed folder (SuperMac_family.sit) with SuperMac video drivers, an earlier version of this FAQ, and more available for download.
This is a reconstruction, adaptation, and partial updating of original Radius/SuperMac support documentation. All links on this page are now defunct. For more information, refer to the document Vintage Radius Documents. Text in green is obsolete and retained for historical reasons.
Q: Is my card compatible with any of the new PCI Macs?
A: No. All SuperMac video cards are either NuBus or PDS cards, and PCI Power Macs have only PCI slots, SuperMac cards cannot be installed in Power Mac and Performa Macs with PCI slots.
Q: When I connect my display to my Spectrum card, instead of getting a usable picture, I get a distorted, scrambled image. I know the monitor is supposed to be compatible with this card – what else do I have to do?
A: SuperMac cards must be configured for the specific display to which they are connected. If you move the card to a different slot in your Mac, connect a different monitor to it, or zap your Mac’s PRAM, you will need to reconfigure the card to output the proper signals and timings required by your display. To reconfigure your SuperMac card, hold down the Option key on your keyboard at startup. Continue to hold down the Option key until the “Round Robin” configuration cycle begins. When you see an image of a keyboard that is clear, centered, and at the resolution you want to use, press the spacebar. The computer will then restart, and the card and display should now be properly configured.
Q: Are SuperMac Spectrum graphics cards compatible with System 7.5?
A: Yes, as long as your SuperMac card is being used with recent ROM and software versions. If, however, your card is too old to support the 3.0 or 1.7.2 ROMs, it may not be fully compatible. The exception has to do with Apple’s CloseView control panel, which does not work properly with SuperMac cards. However, the CloseView feature is redundant, since almost all SuperMac cards already have a superior built-in zooming feature. If CloseView was custom-installed during System 7.5 installation, you should remove it from the Control Panels folder.
Q: Which Spectrum cards are compatible with the Power Macintosh line, and how can I upgrade my card, if necessary?
A: All Spectrum 24 Series V cards are Power Mac compatible. The Spectrum/24 Series IV, Spectrum Power•1152, and Spectrum/24 PDQ Plus with ROM and software versions 3.0 or greater are all compatible with the Power Macintosh 7100 and 8100 computers. Due to space constraints in the Power Mac 6100, only the Spectrum Power•1152 is compatible with the 6100. All other Spectrum cards are incompatible with the Power Macintosh platform. Please call our order fulfillment department directly at 800-977-7060 to order any needed ROM upgrade. The part number for the Spectrum/24 Series IV ROM upgrade is SK0008; the part number for the Spectrum/24 PDQ Plus ROM upgrade is SK0009; the part number for the Spectrum Power•1152 ROM upgrade is SK0011. You must provide the appropriate part number when placing your order.
Q: Do any Spectrum cards work in the Power Macintosh 6100?
A: The Spectrum Power•1152 was expressly designed to accommodate the 7-inch form factor of the Power Macintosh 6100 and other “pizza box” Macs, such as the Centris and Quadra 610 and 660AV. It is the only SuperMac labeled card that is 7-inches.
Q: My display reverts to black & white whenever my Mac starts up. What could be the problem?
A: There could be one of two problems:
First, on a Power Macintosh with Monitors control panel versions prior to 7.3.2, the graphics card will revert to black and white mode each time the computer is started if the “Rearrange on Restart” feature is selected within the Monitors control panel. To fix this problem, simply open the Monitors control panel and select the “Rearrange on Close” option.
Secondly, a SuperMac card will start up in black & white mode if Apple’s Display Enabler extension and Monitors control panel version 7.3.2 or later are used with a graphics card containing any ROM version prior to version 3.0. The solution is to upgrade the card, if possible, to ROM version 3.0 or later. Upgradeable cards are the Spectrum/24 PDQ Plus, Spectrum/24 Series IV, and Spectrum Power•1152. This ROM upgrade will also ensure Power Macintosh compatibility. You can order any Spectrum card ROM upgrade by dialing 800-977-7060. The part number for the Spectrum/24 Series IV ROM upgrade is SK0008; the part number for the Spectrum/24 PDQ Plus ROM upgrade is SK0009; the part number for the Spectrum Power•1152 ROM upgrade is SK0011.
Q: I have ROM version 3.0 on my Spectrum card and SuperPower extension 1.1 is installed, so why does my graphics card run so slow in my Power Macintosh computer?
A: In a Power Macintosh computer, the SuperPower extension provides QuickDraw acceleration for SuperMac graphics cards. In order for the SuperPower extension to work, the Modern Memory Manager feature of the Memory Control Panel needs to be turned ON. If you turn on this feature, then restart your Power Macintosh, the SuperPower extension will no longer show an “X” through its icon upon startup and QuickDraw acceleration will work correctly.
Q: Why do windows sometimes redraw incorrectly (as if they were transparent) on my Power Mac?
A: If you already have ROM version 3.0 on your card, check to make sure that you have SuperPower v1.1 installed within your Extensions folder in your System Folder. This problem did occur with version 1.0 of the SuperPower INIT and was fixed in the next SuperPower update. You may download this newer version of the SuperPower INIT as part of the SuperVideo 3.1 package of compressed files available in the Radius areas on America Online, CompuServe, AppleLink, eWorld, on the internet at ftp.radius.com, and the Radius Online BBS at 408-541-6190.
Q: Why must I reconfigure the SuperMac card in my DuoDock every time I put my Duo in the Dock?
A: SuperMac cards store their configuration info in the Duo’s PRAM. When you start your Duo outside the dock (after having already configured the card), the card info stored in the Duo’s PRAM is cleared, so the next time you start up the Duo while it’s in the Dock, you must reconfigure the card and display. The solution is to use DD INIT (DuoDock INIT) version 1.1. This works in conjunction with the card’s ROM, version 1.7.2 or 2.0, to preserve the PRAM settings for the card even when the Duo is used outside the dock. This INIT is available in the Radius areas on America Online, CompuServe, AppleLink, eWorld, via the internet at ftp.radius.com, and the Radius Online BBS at 408-541-6190.
- If your card carries ROM version 3.0 or later, you must use DD INIT 1.2.
- Do not install the card in Slot C of the Dock. It will revert to 640 x 480 every time. Use Slot D instead.
- No version of the DuoDock INIT works with the Spectrum/8 Series III card.
Q: I’m having some trouble making my Spectrum/8 Series III or Spectrum/24 Series III card work properly with my SuperMatch 17•T display. What do I need to do?
A: You need to use a special cable adapter, model STD3592. This adapter was designed exclusively for this display and card configuration and is required to make the two devices work together. The part number for this adapter is 0008602-0001A. Later versions of the Spectrum Series III boards don’t need this adapter as long as they have the Revision F board rework for Apple 16-inch Monitors. If you need the adapter, call 800-977-7060 to order part #0008602-0001A. Supplies of this adapter were slim at last update, and it may not be available much longer.
Q: Do the Spectrum cards support on-the-fly resolution switching?
A: Yes, SuperMac cards support “on-the-fly” resolution switching through the Monitors control panel, provided you have the following: SuperMac ROM version 3.0 or later, SuperVideo 3.0 or later, a multi-resolution display, Monitors control panel v7.3.2 or greater, and Apple’s Display Enabler 1.0 or greater. (If you are running System 7.5 or later, you do not need to install Display Enabler separately). The required Apple software files are part of Apple’s MultipleScan Display software package which is available from Apple for download from AppleLink, eWorld, or via the internet at ftp.apple.com.
Q: I upgraded to SuperVideo 2.7.5 and my acceleration doesn’t seem to work. Did I forget something?
A: With earlier versions of SuperVideo, the control panel and the Accelerator INIT were two separate items. Since the Accelerator is now built into the SuperVideo control panel, you should trash any old copies of the Accelerator that may still reside in your System Folder.
Q: I’m using SuperVideo 2.49 with System 7, and my SuperMac card no longer seems to function or I get strange system errors. What’s wrong?
A: If you’re using System 7, you must use SuperVideo 2.7 or greater. The current version of SuperVideo is 2.7.5 for ROM versions up to and including 1.7.2 and 2.0.0a, and version 3.1 for ROM 3.0 or greater. The latest software can be downloaded from the Radius software libraries on CompuServe, America Online, AppleLink, eWorld, internet (ftp.radius.com) and the Radius Online BBS at 408-541-6190.
Q: I have an old Spectrum/8 Series II card, and I can’t configure it with SuperVideo. How do I configure this card?
A: The recommended solution to this problem is to attach an Apple 13″ (or compatible) monitor to the graphics card in order to reconfigure it with the SuperVideo software. This solution works because the Spectrum/8 Series II card defaults to the Apple 13″ resolution of 640 x 480 whenever the card is moved into a new slot or PRAM is cleared. If you don’t have an Apple 13″ compatible monitor you may use an application called “Config Spec8/II,” which is for use exclusively with this card. Config Spec8/II can be downloaded from the Radius software libraries on CompuServe, America Online, AppleLink, eWorld, and the Radius Online BBS at 408-541-6190.
Q: Why does the spacebar or Option key not work when configuring my SuperMac card?
A: If the boot blocks on the hard drive are damaged, the Macintosh System software may be unable to read any keys from the keyboard during the startup process. The workaround for this problem is to hold down the Option key while starting the computer from a floppy disk such as a Disk Tools, which contains a System Folder. Since the boot blocks will likely not be damaged on the floppy, the configuration process will proceed normally and the spacebar will work to lock in the monitor configuration. You should use a hard disk utility to repair your drive, such as the one on the Disk Tools floppy disk, as soon as possible.
Q: I am using a non-SuperMac display with a SuperMac card and there is a pink tint on the display. What’s wrong?
A: This can occur if the green portion of the RGB signal is not getting through properly with your current cable. You probably need a new cable. The wiring schemes used by different vendors sometimes vary, but the differences are easily solved by getting a new cable. We recommend the use of the STD3555 display cable for use with SuperMac graphics cards and most Radius or RasterOps displays. NEC displays usually do not need this cable. The STD3555 display cable can be ordered by dialing 800-977-7060 and requesting part number 0006939-0001. One can also use the 0009344-0001 cable as a substitute as long as one uses only three of the cable’s five BNC lines (red, green, and blue).
Q: What is the latest software for use with the Spectrum cards?
A: To answer this question, you will first need to know which ROM version is installed on your Spectrum card. You can determine this by opening your Monitors control panel and clicking the Options button. The card’s name and ROM version number will appear. If your Spectrum card’s ROM version is 1.7.2 or earlier, the latest software your card can use is the SuperVideo 2.7.5 control panel. If your card’s ROM version is 3.0 or later, the latest software it can use is SuperVideo 3.1. Additionally, if your Spectrum card’s ROM version is 3.0 or later and you wish to use it in a PowerPC-based computer, you should install the SuperPower extension to optimize the card’s acceleration capabilities for the PowerPC environment. The latest version of the SuperPower extension is 1.1. These software items can all be downloaded from the Radius software libraries on CompuServe, America Online, AppleLink, eWorld, internet (ftp.radius.com or www.radius.com) and the Radius Online BBS at 408-541-6190.
Q: What if I have a problem with my card which is not listed in this Q&A document?
A: We recommend that you complete as many of the following general purpose troubleshooting steps as possible before calling Technical Support:
- Has anything changed or been installed on this computer recently or since the card last worked correctly? Was the system software upgraded? Have any new Extensions or Control Panels been added? If so, try removing whatever was added and see if the problem goes away.
- Remove all Extensions and Control Panels and test again. If the problem goes away, then one of the items which was removed may be outdated or incompatible.
- Does the problem only occur with one application? If so, then throw away the preferences file for that application (Preference files are located in the Preferences Folder within the System Folder.) Does the problem go away after reinstalling the application? Do you have the latest version of the application?
- If the problem occurs with multiple applications, clear PRAM (by holding down the Command, Option, P, and R keys simultaneously when you start up your computer). Allow the computer to restart three times (you will hear a chime each time) and then release these keys.
- Perform a “clean install” of system software. You may do this by holding down the Command-Shift-K keys when using Apple’s installer program to install System 7.5 or later. To perform a clean install of system software with System 7.1, 7.1.1, or 7.1.2, you must start your computer from a Disk Tools disk or CD-ROM, put the System Folder in the Trash, and then run the Apple installer application.
- Unofficial SuperMac Support Site
- SuperMac Insider
- Articles about SuperMac on Steve Blank’s blog
Video Card Profiles
- Guide to NuBus Video Cards
- Guide to Video Cards for 68000 Macs
- Guide to 030 PDS Video Cards
- Guide to LC PDS Video Cards
- Video Spigot Review, TidBITS, 1992.04.20
- SuperMac War Story 10: The Video Spigot, Steve Blank, 2009.05.11
keywords: #supermac #supermacvideo