Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Merry Christmas: Apple Macintosh SE

Christmas, 2018.
My brother has given to me a circa-1989/1990 Apple Macintosh SE HDFD. It's in a "carrying" case, includes an external 800K floppy drive, Apple Desktop Bus keyboard and mouse, power cord, manuals, and System 6 install disks.

The system has 2.5MB RAM, a 20MB SCSI hard drive, and a 1.44MB internal floppy.

20MB Hard drive (with "stuff" on it)
System 6, at your service...
My wife wanted to know what I'd do with it... well, the answer is: play with it.

The first thing I did was look into "useful" upgrades: Network, Memory, Capacity.

I found an Asante MacCon adapter for the SE
I found 4 x 1MB RAM SIMMs for the SE
I found this gizmo: SCSI2SD


I can work with this.

And then I ran across this: macrepository.org

From the very beginning, the 800K floppy drive was malfunctioning. Among other things, there was an old floppy stuck inside, and it wouldn't eject even using the manual override: It was frozen.

But that's okay: I have the internal 1.4M drive; didn't really want an 800K drive anyway.

Shortly after booting it for the first time, I discovered that the 20MB hard drive has issues. I decided to go ahead and re-initialize it to give it a chance to remap bad sectors and build a bad sector table from whatever couldn't be remapped.

Then I ran into issues with the 1.4M floppy; unfortunately, it's never clear whether the drive is messed up or the media, so I plugged away with eject-insert-eject-insert until I got the drive reinitialized and the system reloaded. Yay! Booting to System 6 off the hard drive took all of 30s from power-on to Finder being ready to go.

One of the first things I did when I got home with the thing was crack the case and start cleaning the dust bunnies from the thing.

The floppy drive came out, and it was cleaned & re-lubed. I removed the 800K drive internals from the external unit, but kept the case: getting a 1.4M drive to replace it seemed like a splendid upgrade.

Although System 6 would run blissfully on this, I've found plenty of references that indicate I'll need System 7 to take advantage of the Asante MacCon card. So be it, but the size increase means I can't do much with it until I have the 4MB upgrade completed.

The folks at macrepository.org have old copies of the System7 installers, so I'm set there. I found the Asante drivers using the Internet Way Back Machine (yes, it caches binaries as well as HTML files).

The SCSI2SD gave me some trouble at first. Although there are copies of "patched" versions of the Apple SC HD utility that can recognize, initialize and work with non-Apple hard drives, when you can override the internal of the device to masquerade as an Apple-original device, you do so:

  • Vendor: " SEAGATE" (yes, there is a single space in front of SEAGATE for a total of 8 characters)
  • Product ID: "          ST225N" (10 spaces before the model name for a total of 16 charaters)
  • Revision: "1.0 " (1 space at the end, for a total of 4 spaces)
I had a 1GB SD card lying around; it was too small for just about anything else I might want it for, but it was going to be virtual overkill for the Mac. I prepped the SCSI2SD with it, and configured it for two devices: a 20MB system drive, and a 900MB data drive.


  1. Love it! I wish my old SE still booted, but the analog board was fried. I think you saw what I did with it...

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