How Can I Use Old Peripherals with My iMac?
Dan Knight - 1998.12.07
VZ sent this letter:
Thanks for your intelligent musings on all things Mac.
My Mac obsession is flaring at the moment, and I wondered if you'd given some thought to my current dilemma. I just bought an iMac to replace a beloved 638CD that I'd maxed out on RAM, processor upgrade, etc. The iMac flies, and I love it.
But what to do with all my peripherals? To wit: a StyleWriter 2400, a SCSI Zip, a SCSI hard drive, and a SCSI scanner. Those expensive adapters seem silly, and the SuperDrive "floppy solution" is overkill, so I came up with the brilliant idea of building a network, that is, networking the iMac with an old Mac. Such a solution, I figured, would allow me to hook the peripherals to the old Mac, the old Mac to the iMac, and, viola, my obsolete peripherals gain new life.
Or do they?
Is this a feasible scheme? If so, having sold off the 638 CDV, which old Mac do I buy?
I'm leaning toward an SE/30, because they are cool looking and seem powerful enough to do what I want to do (I think). Looks like I can pick up a reasonably equipped one for $100 to $150 - the price of the SuperDrive!
Would a Color Classic work? (Even cooler, though I wonder whether the 16-bit thing would screw me up...)
Or should I go for an '040 Mac?
As for networking: I suppose ethernet 10T, Mac-to-Mac crossover cable, is the way to go. Or is it?
Anyway, as you can see, I've given a good deal of thought to this, and could use some expert guidance.
Mac Daniel writes:
Iomega is now shipping the USB Zip drive, so that's one way to migrate data to your iMac. There are also a couple iMac SCSI cards for the mezzanine slot that should be available soon. And the Griffin iPort will let you connect your StyleWriter to the iMac.
But you've brought up an important topic: the home network. It used to be easy: Buy one PhoneNet connector per Mac or LocalTalk device (like my old DeskWriter or current StyleWriter 4100), chain them together with phone line, and you have an instant network, albeit a slow one.
Ethernet changed all that. As you note, you can connect two ethernet equipped Macs with a crossover cable, which will allow you to share your Zip drive and SCSI drive via the file sharing built into the Mac OS. There is even software to enable sharing a scanner, such as Scan Share.
And even a serial StyleWriter can be shared with the printer sharing software that Apple bundles with the OS.
But you went and sold your Performa - and now you may need a Mac so you can use your old hardware.
I've worked with a lot of Macs over the years, done a lot of experimenting, and learned a lot of things. One thing I've learned is that 68030-based Macs are only adequate as servers. They crawl under Open Transport, so you're better off using Classic Networking. That also frees about 0.5 MB of memory.
But Open Transport really takes off with a 68040. So moving data between your iMac and another Mac will be much faster with a 68040 and Open Transport.
Another factor is SCSI speed. The 68030-based Macs top out at a SCSI throughput of 2.1 MBps (and that's only the IIci and IIsi - other models are 1.3-1.5 MBps). The Quadra series is rated at 3.4 MBps - 60% faster. Also keep in mind that most of today's hard drives have sustained transfer rates at least double that.
Despite the fact that the SE/30 and Color Classic are cool, your best server will be a 68040-based Mac, such as a Quadra 650 (used prices start at $150). That's a computer that has the horsepower to make a decent server - and ethernet is a standard feature, although you'll need an AAUI adapter to use it.
There are apparently tricks to getting point-to-point ethernet working. I haven't done it myself, but others tell me that you should start the older Mac with LocalTalk enabled, then power up the iMac, then switch the old Mac to ethernet. If you don't do that, there won't be any signal on the ethernet line, so it won't let you select it.
Not sure if you should upgrade your old Mac or replace it? Check the Mac Daniel index to see if we've already addressed your problem.
Recent Mac Daniel columns
- How to Recover from a Beige G3 Startup Error, Dan Knight, 2012.07.19. If you're not careful, installing OS X 10.2 Jaguar can create an unbootable Beige Power Mac G3. How to fix it - and how to avoid the problem.
- Port Wars: Thunderbolt vs. USB 3, PCIe Cable, and FireWire, Dan Knight, 2012.06.14. Thunderbolt is very fast, USB 3 half as fast, FireWire is on the ropes, and PCIe Cable could blow away Thunderbolt.
- OWC Legacy SSD Tested in Mystic Power Mac G4, Dan Knight, 2011.07.15. G4 Power Macs don't have built-in SATA support, and most SSDs are SATA devices. OWC's legacy SSDs work on the older Mac's IDE bus.
- More in the Mac Daniel index.
Links for the Day
- Mac of the Day: Centris 610, introduced 1993.02.10. This was the Mac we used when we started Low End Mac in 1997.
- May 24 in LEM history: 99: Mac sales up, iMac sales down? - 01: Speeding up digital photography - 02: The Internet, research, and plagiarism - 04: NewerTech TiBook battery - Optical mice from Contour - 06: Power Mac today or Intel tomorrow? - 07: G5: Apple's last fling with PowerPC - G3: From 233 MHz to 1.1 GHz
- Support Low End Mac
Recent Content on Low End Mac
- World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD, Tommy Thomas, Reviews, 2013.03.05. "You may be asking yourself, in an age of Wikipedia and instant information, is World Book still relevant?"
- Vintage Computer Festival SouthEast, April 20-21, 2013, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.25. Old Apple gear and old PCs.
- iMessage: The Ultimate Messaging Service?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.21. In most ways, Apple's iMessage is far superior to BlackBerry Messenger.
- More links in our archive.
- Best Mac mini Deals
- Best 13" MacBook Pro Deals
- Best Intel iMac Deals
- Best iPod touch Deals
- Best iPhone Deals
- Best iPod nano Deals
- Best iPod classic Deals
- Best Apple TV Prices
- More deals in our archive.
Low End Mac Reader Specials
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Mac Driver Museum
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ