Setting up your vintage (classic) 68k Macintosh

I recently pulled my old Macintosh Color Classic (with an Apple IIe Emulator Card) out of storage in preparation for a move to see if it still works (last used in 2001)… so far so good.   I also obtained a Macintosh LCIII to setup as my backup system in case the Macintosh Color Classic decides to die on me (need to get a cap job done on both of them).

When I started to look for the guides etc.  I used back in 1999/2000, I quickly found out that Apple has finally started to abandon these old machines, removing the free downloads and knowledge base articles that vintage mac users have relied on.  Luckily the software can still be found on the internet archive, or sites like the Macintosh Garden, but it looks like it will be a lot harder to find the information that used to be in the knowledge base.   To help myself remember what to do in the future, and to hopefully help others, I’ve decided to put up a series of posts on how to set up these old systems with links to the disk images and files I use.

Step 1: Determine what versions of the Macintosh OS your system can run

Not every Macintosh System can run every OS, for example System 7.5.5 was the last version to support the Motorola 68000 (68k) series of processors, while support for Macintosh Systems with the PowerPC series of processors started with System 7.1.2 and ended with OS X 10.5 (see Wikipedia’s: history of Mac OS).

So before you spend any time trying to make install disks you need to determine what OS your 68k System can run.

Overall I’ve found to be an excellent source for determining what range of version’s each system supports, but doesn’t provide which specific versions within those ranges are supported.  E.g. states that the Color Classic supports Systems: 7.1-7.5.1, 7.5.3-7.6.1.   In reality the Color Classic does not support 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 7.1.2P.    To help myself in the future I’m puting together a Macintosh System Compatibility Table you can use to see what systems support which versions (with links to any required the System Enablers for OS 7.x).

Step 2: Selecting an installation approach

Depending on your system, and the equipment you have on hand, there are different options for getting your 68k Macintosh System up and running.   Options 1 and 2 should work with any of these systems, although option 2 will require another Macintosh to act as an intermediary if you need to create 800k or 400k disks.   Options 3 to 8 all require a 68k Macintosh System that supports SCSI.

8 Options for 68k systems:

  1. Using an emulated floppy drive: If you don’t have a floppy disk drive you can now a buy floppy drive emulator that will let you use disk images on an SD card as if they were real floppies.  Highly recommended if you have a 68k System that only supports 400k or 800k floppy disks.
  2. Using a Floppy Drive: This is the cheapest option, but becoming harder to do as floppy drives become harder to find.
  3. Using a CD-ROM: and you have to have an external Apple-branded SCSI CD-ROM drive for use with your 68k Macintosh System.
  4. Starting with an USB iomega drive (Jazz or Zip): and you also have to have an external SCSI Jazz or Zip drive that connects to your 68k Macintosh System.
  5. Using an internal SCSI Hard Drive and you plan to remove that drive and use it as your 68k Macintosh System’s internal drive,
  6. Using with an external SCSI Hard Drive, includes SCSI iomega drives (Jazz, Zip)
  7. Using a SCSI2CompactFlash, SCSI2SD adapter or the floppy drive emulator from Option 2 with a Hard Drive image.
  8. Using an IDE to SCSI or SATA to SCSI adapter.

That’s it.

If there are other options that you know of please use the comment form to let me know, or if an option you want to use hasn’t been posted yet, don’t worry, I’m working on it.   If you’re desperate, please post a comment asking for help and I’ll do what I can to speed things up.


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