Skip to content

Selecting your System Software for your 68k Macintosh

As I mentioned in my Setting up your vintage (classic) 68k Macintosh a lot of the supporting information that used to be on Apple’s knowledge base about their older systems has slowly been disappearing. So I’ve decided to capture some of the key information I found useful in this blog. Starting with which Macintosh 68k and PPC Systems support the different operating systems released by Apple.

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 some Macintosh System Compatibility Tables so I know which systems support which versions (with links to any required the System Enablers for OS 7.x). Information from Apple’s Knowledge Base articles:

Note: The Macintosh XL uses a custom OS called MacWorks so is not included in the tables below.

!– Not supported
OK– Works with this version of system software
###– Works with this version of system software, but requires a Macintosh System Enabler, where ### = the ID code of the enabler (e.g. the enabler for the Color Classic to run 7.1 or 7 Pro is 401, and the last released version is 1.0.5)
???– Works with this version of system software, but requires a Macintosh System Enabler, but I could not find information for which enabler.

1. System Software Release 1 to 5 Compatibility:

Note, prior to System 6.x the System number/naming for the Macintosh OS was…. different, below I try to provide the set of information that you need to identify each release of new system software.

  • 1.0: 1984/01, System 1.0 / Finder 1.0 / System Software 0.97, Introduced with the Macintosh 128k
  • 1.1: 1984/05, System 1.1 / Finder 1.1g and 1.1h / System Software
  • 2.0: 1985/04, System 2.0 / Finder 1.1g / System Software 0.1
  • 2.1: 1985/04, System 2.0 / Finder 4.1 / System Software 0.3
  • 2.1 HD20: 1986/01, System 2.0 / Finder 5.0, introduced support for the Hierarchical File System (HFS) for use the Macintosh Hard Disk 20 (emulated by the FloppyEMU) that was specifically released for the Macintosh 512.
  • 3.0: 1986/01, System 3.0 / Finder 5.1 System Software 0.7, introduced support 800k floppy disks (Double Sided), and for SCSI, with a maximum partition size of 32MB (info from unverified source, will test on my MAC SE and update). SCSI would become a standard feature starting with the Macintosh Plus.
    • For the Macintosh 128: the driver was loaded from RAM when booting from a floppy drive, and took too much RAM to be used with the Macintosh 128k.
    • For the Macintosh 512: required a special boot diskette that begins the boot up process, and on detecting the Macintosh Hard Disk 20, ejects the disk and then continues loading from the Hard Disk.
    • For the Macintosh 512Ke: native support for HFS was added to the ROM allowing for this system (and the Plus) to boot directly form the Macintosh Hard Disk 20 without using a floppy disk.
    • HFS has a limit of 65,535 files per logical disk (e.g. partition). (See Apple KBase Article 8647)
    • A way around the file limit is to use a tool like ShrinkWrap to create mountable disk images.
  • 3.1: 1986/02, System 3.1 / Finder 5.2 (buggy, do not use) / System Software 1.0
  • 3.1.1: 1986/02, System 3.1.1 / Finder 5.4
  • 3.2: 1986/06, System 3.2 / Finder 5.3 / System Software 1.1
  • 3.3: 1987/01, System 3.3 / Finder 5.4 / System Software 2.0
  • 4.0: 1987/03, System 4.0 / System Software 2.0.1
  • 4.1: 1987/04, System 4.1 / Finder 5.5 / System Software 2.0.1, Introduced support for 2GB partitions (See Apple KBase Article 8647)
  • 5.0: System 4.2 / Finder 6.0 / System Software 5.0
  • 5.1: System 4.3 / Finder 6.0 / System Software 5.1
Macintosh Model (68k)
128K (400k Floppy) (24bit)!!!!!!OKOKOKOKOKOKOK
Plus (800k Floppy) (24bit)OKOKOKOKOKOKOKOKOK!!!!
SE (800k Floppy)OKOKOKOKOKOK!!!!!!!
SE FDHD (24bit)OKOK!!!!!!!!!!!
II (800k Floppy) (24bit)OKOKOK!!!!!!!!!!

2. System Software Release 6 to 7.0.1 Compatibility

  • 6.0.0: Introduced support for the Double Sided High Density 1.44 MB SuperDrive, significant bugs
  • 6.0.1:
  • 6.0.2: First stable release. The two previous versions 6.0.0 and 6.0.1 both had a significant amount of bugs and are not recommend.
Macintosh Model (68k)
512K (400k Floppy) (24bit)!!!!OKOKOKOKOKOKOKOK
512Ke (800k Floppy) (24bit)!!!!OKOKOKOKOKOKOKOK
Plus (800k Floppy) (24bit)OKOK!!OKOKOKOKOKOKOKOK
SE (800k Floppy) (24bit)OKOK!!OKOKOKOKOKOKOKOK
SE/30 (24/32bit*)OKOK!!OKOKOKOKOK!!!
Classic (24/32bit)OKOK!OKOKOKOKOKOK!!!
Classic II (24/32bit)
Performa 200
II (800k Floppy) (24/32bit*)OKOK!!OKOKOKOKOKOKOKOK
IIcx (24/32bit*)OKOK!!OKOKOKOKOKOK!!
IIci (24/32bit)OKOK!!OKOKOKOK!!!!
IIfx (24/32bit)OKOK!!OKOKOK!!!!!
IIsi (24/32bit)OKOK!!OKOK!!!!!!
LC (24/32bit)OKOK!OKOKOK!!!!!!
LC II (24/32bit)
Also called Performa 400, 405, 410, 430
PowerBook 100OK!!OK?(P)(P)!!!!!
PowerBook 140OK!OK!!!!!!!!!
PowerBook 145OK!OK!!!!!!!!!
PowerBook 145BOK!OK!!!!!!!!!
PowerBook 170OK!OK!!!!!!!!!
Quadra 700 (24/32bit)OK!!!!!!!!!!!
Quadra 900, 950OK!!!!!!!!!!!

(P) According to Wikipedia the PowerBook 100 has partial support for System 6.0.7 and 6.0.5

  1. System 6.0.8M: a community created release based on a 6.0.7 release created for Japan, supports the: powerbook 140, 145, 145B, 170 (perhaps more, let me know)
  2. System 6.0.8L shipped on a limited run of computers for the Asia Pacific Market due to a delay in System 7 localization, supports the: Classic, Classic II, LC, LC II, Powerbook 100

3. System Software Release 7.1 to 7.5.5 Compatibility (introduced System Enablers)

The table is based on the the tables from Apple knowledge base (TA47341), I created this version with the assumption that the source article may be removed in the future (like many other articles that dealt with the vintage systems). I’ve also included links to any System Enablers needed for an OS to work properly on a system. Because Apple has removed these files from their site I’m linking to the cached copies on the Internet Archive. I’m also hosting these files on my site and will link to my copy if they ever disappear off the Internet Archive. For anyone that wants to have a copy of all the System Enablers they can also be found on the Macintosh Garden.

3.1. About System Enablers:

In the past when Apple released new computers the system software was revised. To get around this problem system enablers were written which contained information necessary for newer computers to start up. All Apple computers released since system software 7.1 (September 1992) require a system enabler to start up. For more information see my post on Current Version and Change History for these enablers.

System 7.5 contains a universal enabler was developed that supports all computers released before System 7.5.

3.2. Additional Notes for Systems running OS 7.1+:

  • Before installing System 7 confirm that you have at least 2 Megabytes of RAM, preferably at least 4.
  • The Macintosh Plus, SE, SE/30, Classic, Classic II, LC, LC II, LC 580, Mac II, IIx, IIcx, IIsi, IIci, IIfx, Portable, PowerBook 100, 140, 145, 145B, 170, Quadra 700, 900, and 950, and Performa 200, 400, 405, 410, 430, 580, 640 and 6110-series all do NOT need a System Enabler.
  • System 7 Pro = System 7.1.1
  • System 7.1.3 = System 7.1, 7.1.1 or 7.1.2 with System Update 3.0
  • System 7.5 introduced support for 4GB partitions, but kept the HFS limit of 65,535 files per logical disk (e.g. partition) (See Apple KBase Article 8647)
  • System 7.5.2 introduced support for 2TB partitions on some systems. (Systems released with 7.5.2 installed and systems that support PCI, from what I can see no 68k system meets those requirements, see Apple KBase Article 8647)
  • System 7.5.5 was the last to support 68k macs with less than a 68030 CPU
  • System 7.6 only supports 68k macs with a 68030 CPU or better, and Macs with 32-bit-clean ROMS (the Mac II, Mac IIx, Mac IIcx, and Mac SE/30 do NOT have 32 bit clean ROMS)
  • (1) The system was initially released with only 1 Megabyte of RAM but can be expanded to 4 or more Megabytes. (minimum for OS 7.1.x is 2 Megabytes of RAM)
  • (2) The system was initially released with only 2 Megabytes of RAM but can be expanded to 4 or more Megabytes. (minimum for OS 7.5.x is 4 Megabytes of RAM)
  • (#) The Apple Workgroup Server 95 uses the A/UX operating system.
  • + Also requires: System 7.5.5 SCSI Server Update, and PPC Interrupt Extension.
  • (A) System Enabler 131 replaces System Enabler 111 and System Enabler 121
  • (B) Express Modem users should also install the Duo Battery Patch extension)
  • (D) These computers shipped with 7.5.5 and require the enabler that shipped with it. These computers do not support Mac OS 7.6 but support Mac OS 7.6.1.
Macintosh7.6.x7. 7.1
Plus (800k Floppy) (24bit) (1)!OKOK!OKOKOK!!OK
SE (800k Floppy) (24bit) (1)!OKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
SE/30 (24/32bit*) (1)!OKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
Classic (24/32bit) (1)!OKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
Classic II (24/32bit) (2)
Performa 200
Color Classic (24/32bit)
Performa 250
Color Classic II (24/32bit)
Performa 275
II (800k Floppy) (24/32bit*) (1)!OKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
IIx (24/32bit*) (1)!OKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
IIcx (24/32bit*) (1)!OKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
IIsi (24/32bit) (2)OKOKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
IIvi, IIvx (24/32bit)
Also called Performa 600 (same as IIvx without cache/FPU)
LC (24/32bit) (2)!OKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
LC II (24/32bit)
Also Performa 400, 405, 410, 430 (24/32bit)
LC III (24/32bit)
Also called Performa 450
LC III+ (24/32bit)
Also called Performa 460
LC 475 (24/32bit), PPC Upgraded
Also called Performa 475, 476, Quadra 605
LC 520 (24/32bit)
Also called Performa 520
LC 550 (24/32bit)
Also called Performa 550, 560
LC 575 (32bit)
in CC requires v.1.1 for 512 x 384
Also called Performa 575, 577, 578
LC 580 (32bit)
Also called Performa 580
LC 630 (32bit)
Quadra 630, Performa 630
Macintosh TV (24/32bit)OKOKOK!OKOK404!404404
Centris 610 (24/32bit)OKOKOK!OKOKINC!040040
Centris 650 (32bit)OKOKOK!OKOKINC!040040
Centris 660AV (32bit)
Quadra 660AV
Performa (see LC section), 600 (see IIvi)
PowerBook 150OKOKOKOKOK150!150!
PowerBook 160OKOKOK!OKOKINC!131131
PowerBook 165OKOKOK!OKOKINC!131131
PowerBook 165cOKOKOK!OKOKINC!131131
PowerBook 180OKOKOK!OKOKINC!131131
PowerBook 180cOKOKOK!OKOKINC!131131
PowerBook 190OKOKOK190!!!!!!
PowerBook Duo 210OKOKOK!OKOKINC!Duo (B)Duo (B)
PowerBook Duo 230OKOKOK!OKOKINC!Duo (B)Duo (B)
PowerBook Duo 2300OKOKOK2300!!!!!!
PowerBook Duo 250OKOKOK!OKOKINC!Duo (B)*
PowerBook Duo 270cOKOKOK!OKOKINC!Duo*
PowerBook Duo 280OKOKOK!OKOKDuo
PowerBook Duo 280cOKOKOK!OKOKDuo
PowerBook 520, 520cOKOKOK!OKOK500!500!
PowerBook 540, 540cOKOKOK!OKOK500!500!
Quadra 610 (24/32bit)
with 486SX card
Quadra 650 (32bit)OKOKOK!OKOKINC!040040
Quadra 660AV (32bit)
Centris 660AV
Quadra 700 (24/32bit)OKOKOK!OKOKOK!OKOK
Quadra 800 (24/32bit)OKOKOK!OKOKINC!040040
Quadra 840AV (32bit)OKOKOK!OKOKINC!088088
Workgroup Server 60!OKOK!OKOKINC!040040
Workgroup Server 80!OKOK!OKOKINC!040040
(#) Workgroup Server 95!!!!!!!!!!
System 7.x compatibility for 680×0 systems

3.3. PPC Systems

Performa 5300!OKOK!406!!!!!
Performa 6110!OKOK!OKOK!!?OK
Performa 6200, 6300!OKOK!406!!!!!
PowerBook 5300OKOKOK5300!!!!!!
PowerMac 5300/100 LCOKOKOK!406!!!!!
PowerMac 5400/200OKOK!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 5500/225OKOK!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 6100/60OKOKOK!OKOKPPC 1.02PPC 1.02!!
PowerMac 6100/66OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!
PowerMac 7100/66OKOKOK!OKOKPPC 1.0.2PPC 1.0.2!!
PowerMac 7100/80OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!
PowerMac 7200/75OKOKOK701
PowerMac 7200/90OKOKOK701
PowerMac 7300/180!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!
PowerMac 7300/200!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!
PowerMac 7500/100OKOKOK701
PowerMac 8100/80OKOKOK!OKOKPPC 1.02PPC 1.0.2!!
PowerMac 8100/100OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!
PowerMac 8100/110OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!
PowerMac 8500/120OKOKOK701
PowerMac 8600/200!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!
PowerMac 9500/120OKOKOK701
PowerMac 9500/132OKOKOK701
PowerMac 9600/200!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!
PowerMac 5200/75 LCOKOKOK!406!!!!!
Workgroup Server 6150/60OKOK+OK!OKOK!???!!
Workgroup Server 6150/66OKOK+OK!??????!!!!
Workgroup Server 7250/120OKOK+OK!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 7350/180OKOK+OK!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 8150/80OKOK+OK!OKOK!???!!
Workgroup Server 8150/110OKOK+OK!??????!!!!
Workgroup Server 8550/132OKOK+OK!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 8550/200OKOK+OK!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 9150/80OKOK+OK!OK!!OK!!
Workgroup Server 9150/120OKOK+OK!OK!!!!!
Workgroup Server 9650/2337.6.1!!!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 9650/3507.6.1!!!!!!!!!
System 7.x compatibility for PPC systems


  1. Steinar Austheim Steinar Austheim

    I have a Powerbook 170 from 1991.
    I need floppy discs to reeboot the system.
    Can I use any floppy disc inkl. system 7.0.1 to 7.6.1
    Even if it belongs to a plus or SE or other Mac from that erea


    • Ty Ty

      Since the PowerBook 170 requires no enablers, you can use any of the installers that are compatible. At this time in Macintosh history you could drop in an installer disk and select if you’d like to have the custom Mac OS for your specific model or a system folder with software compatible with EVERY Mac.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.