Can I get my old mac on the internet?

wahoke

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Sep 22, 2019
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I purchased a Macintosh Performa 600 this weekend as my first vintage computer to restore. My wife has gotten excited about it and is wanting to get some software from her childhood on it for our daughter to play. The only thing is, I don't have a modern computer with a floppy drive and I think it would be cool to do everything from the old mac. I see it has n 8 pin mini-din connector for the modem. My question is: Can I use an 8 pin mini-din to RJ45 cable to do this?
 

Dale Mahalko

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Jul 25, 2019
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The 8-pin connector is a serial port. If you wanted to access the Internet, then you need a dial-up connection service, an external serial modem, and an 8-pin serial to DB-25 cable. The maximum speed of any dial-up modem is 56,000 bits per second, or 0.00056 megabits/sec.

Though, this may not be enough, because the early Macintosh operating systems had no built-in support for Internet access in the operating system. You may need additional software to make this work. It's been a looooong time, but PPP or SLIP is needed. I do not recall when Apple finally started including networking by default.. maybe System 8 or so?

If there are no built-in tools for Internet access, you can't do anything unless you can obtain and install them first.

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This model of Macintosh does not have built-in Ethernet networking. Some Performa models had slots, and if yours does, you would need to find an Ethernet card for it, which at the point is going to be rather difficult because they are weird, using an old Mac slot standard called NuBus.

The card may not directly have a twisted-pair connector but rather an AAUI port which needs a converter adapter to make it into a modern common ethernet port.

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And finally, using an old Mac on the modern Internet is going to be extremely painful and broken in the literal sense, as any web browser for it is utterly obsolete and most modern websites will not load correctly.

You would be able to download from FTP sites... if you know what that is, and you if can find a still running SimTel FTP mirror server, and you know how to use old file decompression and extraction tools like ShrinkIt (SHK files) and HQX files. If you are lucky you will find ShrinkIt Self-Extracting files (.SEA) so you don't need ShrinkIt installed first.
 
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wahoke

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Sep 22, 2019
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Thank you, Dale. That was what I was afraid of after my research, but I wanted to make sure. I really appreciate the thorough explanation. I did not realize even the Ethernet card for the NuBus slot would have had a different port than modern versions. Again, thank you so much!
 

Dale Mahalko

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Jul 25, 2019
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Oh yeah... you also needed MacTCP for the early Macs.


Just go read that article. I forgot all about that. I'm so glad I don't have to deal with any of that anymore. :D

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Fortunately it looks like you may be able to run MacOS 8.1 which should have Open Transport rather than MacTCP:


  • requires System 7.1P to 7.6.1
  • Run Mac OS 8.1 on your ‘030 Mac, Charles W Moore, Applelinks, 8/8/00. “Born Again enables certain 68030 Macs to support Mac OS 8.1.”
 
May 22, 2019
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Note that you can use a null modem serial connection to connect to a modern computer, such as a Raspberry Pi.

From there, you can use TCPSer to provide a faux-dialup modem, PPP to provide TCP/IP via serial, or just run a terminal on the serial port to give you a shell prompt. Using a telcom program on the Mac, you could then transfer files via serial cable.

I'm not sure if there are removable USB mass storage solutions, similar to the Gotek, but that's another thing I'd look at.
 

Matt_PC-1

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Oct 8, 2019
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I purchased a Macintosh Performa 600 this weekend as my first vintage computer to restore. My wife has gotten excited about it and is wanting to get some software from her childhood on it for our daughter to play. The only thing is, I don't have a modern computer with a floppy drive and I think it would be cool to do everything from the old mac. I see it has n 8 pin mini-din connector for the modem. My question is: Can I use an 8 pin mini-din to RJ45 cable to do this?
From the specs, there are expansion slots for which there would have been ethernet cards made. I know they made a combo card for a PDS slot that included an FPU socket (FPU sold separately) and ethernet. I purchased one of these for my Mac IIsi and it now does 10-baseT networking (with an adapter for modern cables). This will work with MacTCP (or with Linux if you're crazy enough to try installing it).

You will have to do some hunting. For the Mac IIsi, I found a TECHWORKS Ethernet Kit with THIN/THICK network connector (need converter for modern cables) and FPU socket. I purchased the FPU separately.

If you're interested in this kind of solution, let me know and I'll try to track down my hardware source (some guy in NY with lots of new-old-stock and used Mac stuff).
 

J.ak_3

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Oct 21, 2019
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It's actually a pretty laborious task trying to get software onto old Macs without another old Mac (and even with one handy). Also the steps are radically different depending on what System version you have installed, and if you're using a modern Mac, or a PC. Considering the sheer number of ways you could get the task done, I think a little more info is needed.
 

Matt_PC-1

New Member
Oct 8, 2019
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Indeed, it is essential to get a network card working for old macs. Then software can be loaded by FTP from off-world sources. If you have more than one old Mac, at least one needs an ethernet card and the others can get their software through that Mac via an Appletalk network.
 

ocsav

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Oct 26, 2019
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I would try to find an ethernet card for that machine. There are a few nbus ethernet cards on ebay right now but I have no idea how to find the right one.
If all you really want is to get software on that machine, you might try to get a 3.5" floppy drive for one of your machines, with the right software I'm sure it can be convinced to write the apple 800k disks. Commodore Amiga were quite good at this, so you can buy an Amiga 1200 with a pcmcia ethernet card (good luck :) AND a 3.5" floppy drive... That's the fun of the retro... :cool:
 

bladamson

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Oct 23, 2019
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Appalachia
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The serial ports on those 68k macs are dog-slow. But may be easier/cheaper than trying to find an affordable nubus serial card and get it working... May be hard to find the right extension/driver for those things if they don't come with one, I dunno.

That Performa 600 ought to have a 1.44 Mb floppy drive, right? I 'spect there's some utility out there that would let you write HFS formatted floppies with a USB floppy drive on your PC.

I think if I was going to try to get a 68k Mac on the internet, I'd take a super-cheap low-end Raspberry Pi and hook it to the Mac's serial port via the UART on the gpio header. That GPIO header is TTL-level RS-232 though, so you'd have to use a converter like this one https://www.amazon.com/MAX232-RS232-Converter-Adapter-Module/dp/B011NOHC4S . Then I'd set up a SLIP link between them and see about bridging it to the ethernet interface with ipfw brctl (edit: derp).

However, once you get it on the internet, if you want web access you'll still be limited to ancient versions of Mosaic or Netscape Navigator, and the link will be so slow that even the pages that will display properly will probably be a poor experience. I think you'll realistically be limited to ftp, telnet, *maybe* ssh, and email. I'm sure it would be too slow to run software directly off an NFS share or somesuch.

But.... If your main goal is just to get software on the thing via FTP or something, have you considered a SCSI zip drive on your Mac and a USB zip drive on your PC? I don't know anything about accessing HFS+ formatted zip disks under Windows, but I know you can mount them in Linux and copy stuff onto them fine. Then you ought to be able to run the apps straight off the zip drive, if your internal hard drive is too small to hold everything you want.
 
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ocsav

New Member
Oct 26, 2019
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There is a thing called a Gatorbox, it's a gateway between appletalk (localtalk) and ethernet. You'd still need mac tcp.
Found one on ebay but they're asking 245 US$ plus shipping and for the look of the thing you'll need an ethernet trasciver as the box only have AUI and thin ethernet ports.
The only cheap thing that I know that talks appletalk and ethernet is some versions of the HP Jetdirect adapter boards (HP JETDIRECT 5182-4752 Network Card (Rev. B)), but it would take a real wizard to use that, maybe a gateway program written in Postscript... :D
 
May 22, 2019
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There's also
It looks like the terminal servers can be configured from a web page on the server, then you can command the server to make outbound connections with simple AT commands. I'm liking that USR unit enough that I may grab one to use with my Altair Clone.