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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 LC475 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).

Because this is a hobby, I often go months at a time when I don’t get to play with these old machines, so I decided to create this site to record the information I found useful, or interesting about my 68k Macintosh systems.

This guide assumes that you have a working 68k Macintosh, e.g. powers on, and either already boots, or is showing the insert floppy icon.

Step 1: Selecting which Macintosh OS to use.

Not every Macintosh System can run every OS, for example System 8.1 (with a hack) 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).

To help myself in the future I’ve put together a Macintosh System Compatibility Table that I can use to see what systems support which versions. Note for System 7.x Apple released System Enablers that were required, and would patch the operating system to allow it to work on newer systems.

Step 2: Installing the OS and your applications

Depending on your system and the equipment you have on hand, there are different options for where you install your OS and applications. If you have to purchase equipment I recommend that you do not buy an old hard drive or removable drive, but instead buy one of the SCSI hard drive / CD-ROM emulators or the Floppy / HD20 emulators now available.

Option 1: SCSI or IDE hard drive / CD-ROM emulators.

To help with setup, I have created bootable drive and volume image files to use with the various SCSI hard drive / CD-ROM emulators, or you can use a tool such as Disk Jockey to create your own image files. You can also mount these drive and volume files in a emulators such as Basilisk II or Mini-vMac to add and remove files.

For Macintosh systems supporting internal IDE drives, the best option I’ve found is a CF2IDE adapter plus an Industrial CF card. Industrial CF cards are designed to replace fixed disks, they identify themselves as fixed disk vs. removable storage. I have had issues with other CF cards not working in my Macintosh LC 630, but have had not issues when using an Industrial CF card.

Option 2: Floppy / HD20 emulators

For the Macintosh 512K, 512Ke, Plus, SE (not SE/30), Classic, Classic II, Portable, IIci, IIsi, or LC I you can use the FloppyEMU to emulate a 400k, 800k and 1.4MB Floppy and also the Macintosh HD20 hard drive (up to 2GB), or the Tash twenty that can also emulate the HD20 (I just got one 2024/5/10 and need to write a guide)

The other option is the Mac ROM-inator to boot from ROM for the Mac IIx, IIcx, IIci, IIfx, IIsi, and SE/30

Option 3: Using a Real Floppy Drive

Note: Modern USB floppy drives can only read and write 1.4MB disks, you can not use them to read or write the 400k or 800k disks that are required for the 128K, 512K, 512Ke, and Plus (and also the SE and II if they were not upgraded).

In the 1990s and early 2000s using a real 3.5″ floppy disk drive was the cheapest option until the drop in cost of the above emulated hard drives and floppy drives. 3.5″ drives and disks are becoming harder to find and much more expensive. You would need a bridging system from the late 80s to mid-90s that had a Apple “super drive” that could read and write 400k, 800k and 1.4MB disks.

If you just have a floppy in your system, but no Hard Drive or equivalent, you may be able to use one of the following four variations:

  1. bootable 3.5″ HD floppy disk and a RAM Disk, useful if you don’t have a 2nd floppy drive
  2. bootable 3.5″ HD floppy disk and AppleShare over a LocalTalk network (optionally with a RAM Disk)
  3. bootable 3.5″ HD floppy disk and AppleShare over an Ethernet network (optionally with a RAM Disk)
  4. bootable 3.5″ HD floppy disk and a CD-ROM Drive (optionally with a RAM Disk)

Option 4: Using a CD-ROM Drive

Note: The 128K, 512K, 512Ke, Plus, SE, SE/30, Portable, II, IIx, IIcx, Classic can NOT boot from a CD-ROM (TA29225/TIL11905).

If you happen to have a CD-ROM burner, plenty of blank CDs and software that can burn HFS bootable images to a CD (many can’t), you could try to use bootable CDs:

  1. a bootable CD-ROM and a Floppy Drive
  2. a bootable CD-ROM and a RAM Disk
  3. a bootable CD-ROM, a Floppy Drive (or RAM Disk) and AppleShare over a LocalTalk network
  4. a bootable CD-ROM, a Floppy Drive (or RAM Disk) and AppleShare over an Ethernet network

To force your system to boot from CD ROM you will either need to hold down the “C” key (TA39718), or Command+Option+Shift+Delete+# where # is the SCSI-ID of your CD-ROM drive. (TA22017)

Option 5: Hard drives and Removable Drives

Not recommended unless you already have one or more of these drives, and a way to setup and install everything from floppy or CD-ROM, or you have a way to connect it to your modern system using either a SCSI card, SCSI to USB adapter, SCSI to Firewire Adapter or SCSI to Parallel adapter (to USB adapter). Or, you have both a USB and SCSI version of a removable drive, such as the Iomega Zip Drives, e.g a USB Zip Drive for your modern system and a SCSI Zip drive for your Macintosh System.

To help with setup, I have created bootable drive image files that can be written directly to 100MB zip drives, Jaz 1GB and 2GB Drives. You can also use a tool such as Disk Jockey to create your own image files for your drive/media and then copy the contents from one of my images on to your image using Basilisk II.

  1. using an external SCSI drive and enclosure.
  2. using an Iomega 100MB Zip Drive
  3. using an Iomega Jazz 1 GB or 2 GB Drive
  4. using an Iomega Bernoulli Box (5, 10, and 20 MB)
  5. using an Iomega Bernoulli Box II (20, 35, 44, 65, 90, 105, 150, and 230 MB)
  6. using a SyQuest Drive (44, 88, and 200 MB)
  7. using an LS 120 or 240 SuperDrive (120 and 240 MB)
  8. using a Castlewood ORB drive (2.2 and 5.7 GB)

Option 6: ?

I’m sure there are other options, specifically using other brands and types of removable drives (e.g. Magneto-Optical and Floptical Drives).  In most cases they can all be treated the same way as a SCSI Hard Drive, as long as you’ve inserted the removable disk in to the drive before you turn on your Macintosh.   I plan to update this post and to make guides for additional options overtime, and if I can, with downloadable images that can be written to the various media.

One Comment

  1. olegyk olegyk

    It may be worth mentioning that in conjunction with the external options (emulated SCSI drive or FloppyEmu HD), it should be possible to perform the whole setup procedure first in an *emulator* (BasiliskII on a modern machine), and then either to use the resulting volume or copy (and bless) the System Folder or disk copy to the target 68k Mac.

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