[vcf-midatlantic] Donations requested

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Mon Oct 24 14:47:33 EDT 2016

> A bridge mac system... something running System 7 or 8 with working
> superdrive, ethernet and a cdrom. Transferring files to our 800KB floppy
> based Mac IIcx, Mac SE, and Apple IIc+ is next to impossible otherwise.

I would not call it "next to impossible" to provide these capabilities. 
I'd simply state that supporting these capabilities on System 7 Macs is 
limited compared to 21st century computing standards. Why?  because in 
those days, support was very specific to brands and models of devices; 
and because networking was "siloed" to either Apple/Mac or IBM; and of 
course pre-Internet. System 8 was "better" but had many of the same 
problems, and is too big for some of the oldest Macs. and, some of these 
Macs came out before CD-ROMs, or Ethernet, were in common use.

I'll grant, this may be too much work for your school's interest in 
vintage computers. Copying floppies is the most straightforward way.

These constraints have been forgotten in the "plug it in and it works" 
world of the 21st century. (shrug) there's hobbyist work-arounds and 
products that provide "Internet connections" to most any vintage 
computer - I'm not referring to 21st C products in my remarks below. 
(And please don't pick nits - I'm trying to provide some directions 
here, answer questions.)

In your photo, the Mac between the IIc and the iMac with the Dell-brand 
LCD, is an old 68K Mac of some sort - I'm guessing that is your IIcx. It 
should have a 1.4M floppy drive, and should  be running System 6 or 7. 
Later System 7 on that machine can create 1.4M Mac-format disks as well 
as 800K Mac format disks; it should be able to format "PC" S-DOS 800K 
and 1.4M too, and transfer files.

OS 7.5.3 was released by Apple decades ago as a complete set of 
installable disk images. a later version of (I think) Disk Copy would be 
needed to mount disk images. Or they may be as a self-expanding set of 
files. Ask around for such a set of images or a CD disk. YOu may need 
Apple CD-ROM extensions too.

Earlier Macs which did not have 1.4M drives could not of course read or 
write 1.4M Mac or PC disks. The SE "superdrive" model had different ROMs 
and IWM chip from the SE model and 1.4M drives were supported by those 
chips. There's other compact Macs with 1.4M drives.

I think the Apple II 3.5" disks are "ProDOS" format, and of course 800K. 
Ask someone in the Apple II community about transfers with 68K Macs, and 
appropriate 800K drives for Apple II models.

As for Ethernet: older Macs with NuBus slots can accommodate NuBus 
Ethernet cards. But "Ethernet" doesn't give you magic "transfer" 
capabilities, especially between Macs and Windows/MS-DOS systems; or "to 
the Internet". It's complicated, and beyond me too.

CD-ROMs: older SCSI based Macs may be able to accommodate some external 
SCSI CD-ROM drives. However, System 7 as Apple supplied only supported 
Apple CD-ROM products with specific brand/model of CD-ROM drives. One 
needed specific "extensions" to support CD-ROMs at all, and also to 
support other specific brand/models of CD-ROM drives. And...that's "read 
only". Writable CD-ROM drives were supported in OS 8, but again specific 
brand/models only.

My suggestion? Use Iomega ZIP-disk technology, in Mac or PC formats. 
Many Macs can operate external SCSI ZIP 100 drives, from Mac Plus and 
up.  Even more recent Windows systems can use IDE or USB ZIP drives. And 
older Macs with IDE (PATA) supported ZIP drives. Those provide 100 
megabytes of space, plenty for 1980's and 90's computing. I don't know 
of an Apple II ZIP drive solution with 20th century technology.

Serial file transfer is tedious, but it works when nothing else will.

But of course, the popular solution for mass-file storage, is modern use 
of flash-drive technology. Typically SD-card reader/writers made for 
various vintage systems. Likewise, for "internet access", there are 21st 
century Ethernet or WiFi adapters that hobbyists offer for specific 
vintage computers. I do not keep track of these, so that's all I can say 
about them. I'm busy enough (obviously) with the old stuff.

Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson,  New Jersey USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net

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