Cookies and Capacitors

Classic Macintosh storage

Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 7:28PM

I’m an avid collector of 68k and PowerPC Macintosh systems. Just last week, I busted out the ‘ol Beige G3 to help a friend extract old journals from 800k HFS floppies (bonus: they were WriteNow files). There were two floppies, though, that the tower couldn’t read. I suspect they’re formatted as MFS, which my System 9 machine can’t read – but my LC can.

However, my LC only has a single floppy drive, resting peacefully on the right side. The left is cold and untouched: a SCSI drive sat there at one time, but left for greener pastures. This means that whenever the computer is used, the operating system has to be loaded through the floppy drive. That’s fine, until you want to actually use the system.

Let’s say that you would like to load up an instance of WriteNow. Well, WN has its own floppy disk. By the time that the program is in a semi-usable state, the user has already switched floppies 47 times (no, I’m not exaggerating). I’ve been debating whether I should bite the bullet and order another floppy drive, but with eBay prices approaching $40, there has to be another solution.

Instead of installing an additional floppy drive, I could also install a hard drive. The cheapest solution is to purchase a SCSI drive from eBay for around $10. Unfortunately, these drives probably had a life in a server. They spin at 10,000 RPM, so they get very hot. Also, they’re old, so they’re prone to errors, and are likely to fail very soon.

Another solution is to install a series of modules to convert SCSI to Compact Flash (IDE). SCSI-to-IDE adapters used to be cheap, but now they rarely sell for less than $120, so that’s out of the question. I’m not willing to invest quite that much into it.

What I could do is this: transplant the SCSI drive from my Beige G3 PowerMac into the LC, and then buy a Compact Flash card to use as an IDE drive in the PowerMac (which has IDE on-board). Best of both worlds, right?

But, this also defies some of my prime principles: it spends money, and it takes a little bit of work. How many more times will I even need to boot my LC? In the end, laziness shall claim victory; nothing will change. It’s nice to be able to discuss my options, but in the end, switching floppies isn’t something to complain about; in the early Macintosh days, everyone had to do it that way.