Magazine article Online

Enhancing the Macintosh SE: Designing Your Personal Dream Machine

Magazine article Online

Enhancing the Macintosh SE: Designing Your Personal Dream Machine

Article excerpt

My tenth grade algebra teacher drove a sedan that had been manufactured long before I started kindergarten. The car was in great shape, and it adequately transported her between the school and her home a few miles away. That sedan did its job for the owner who took good care of it, but it drove me and my friends crazy! None of us owned or drove a car. As kids who had not gone through the rite of passage of getting a driver's license, all we could do was visit automobile dealers, read Motor Trend, Road & Track, and Hot Rod, memorize the statistics on 0-60 m.p.h. acceleration and engine displacement, and stay a respectful distance from the heavily modified 49 Mercury and the coral and black 58 Impala in the school parking lot. We could only dream about driving one of these hot rods if we ever, ever got a date. In short, we lusted after the speed, engineering, and horsepower of some unattainable dream machines."

You probably aren't suffering similar adolescent pangs of envy, unless you are using a lowly 128K Mac - or none at all - or you walk by an executive's desk and see a Mac IIci with a 19-inch color monitor, 650MB magneto-optical drive, and a color laser printer. But if you are wondering when and how you might modify your Macintosh to help you work more productively and comfortably, this column is for you. If you are like my algebra teacher of long ago with an unchanging job and a machine that serves your needs, I won't try to talk you into an unnecessary upgrade. I used a Macintosh Plus at home until December 1989, and use a Macintosh IIcx at work.


I should state that I have not actually assembled or used many of these modified systems. They should not be considered recommendations but only possibilities for further investigation. Keep in mind that opening a Macintosh can void any outstanding warranty, and that the electrical current can be very dangerous. Let a qualified dealer make any changes on the logic board of your computer.


Since there are so many Macintosh and Lisa users and many different configurations, I decided to concentrate on modifying a floppy disk Macintosh SE and discuss how this best-selling model can be modified and upgraded with various boards and peripherals. There seem to be five rational reasons for making changes:

(1) The need for archival storage of information that exceeds 80OK;

(2) the need to work with programs that use more RAM;

(3) a need for more speed;

(4) the need for a larger screen;

(5) and, the need for a new CPU and a greater selection of peripherals.

(The above may be perceived as "needs" or wishes," depending on the degree to which you have been stricken.)


The need for more permanent storage leads most users to consider purchasing a hard disk. The size of the operating system for the Macintosh will grow larger when the next version, 7.0, is released. Even now it is almost impossible to fit a complete version 6.04 system with a variety of desk accessories, INIT files, and control panel devices on one 800K floppy. There are dozens of brands of hard drives available, and each brand offers many different sizes and configurations from 20 megabytes up to two gigabytes in size (and that will probably increase by the time you read this).

For the individual looking for a moderate amount of capacity, fast access time, and a great deal of flexibility, I would suggest a drive based on technology developed by Syquest. These drives are SCSI devices that use removable 42.5MB cartridges costing about $100 each. The drives cost from $750 to $1900, but each uses the same basic technology. They have not been on the market long enough to differentiate one from the other, except by price. Each cartridge weighs a few ounces and can be safely mailed or carried in a briefcase or purse. The low media cost allows you to have a complete operating environment on a disk which can be carried from one machine to another. …

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