Apple Archive

The IIsi Never Dies

- 2000.06.30

If you are among the people who thinks anything but the latest, greatest computer system is the only thing useable, think again. Today, I will prove to you how useful a 1990 Macintosh IIsi is. The IIsi never dies!

Introduced in 1990 as a midrange computer, the 20 MHz 68030-based Macintosh IIsi was a big hit. It was introduced at $4,270, which was less expensive than the $10,970 IIfx. It was obviously better than the LC, which sold for only $2,500, yet it was almost as fast as the $8,800 IIci, with its 25 MHz 68030.

The only things that the IIsi lacked in comparison with the IIci were the 3 NuBus slots, a cache card slot, and a floating point unit (FPU). Some companies made adapters for the IIsi PDS (processor direct slot) that allowed you to use a NuBus card and also gave you a IIci cache card slot. Many of these adapters included FPUs or sockets for them. Apple's adapter included an FPU and one NuBus slot.

Last year, I purchased a Macintosh IIsi at a thrift shop for $25. I thought I might have paid too much, since only had 9 MB of memory and a 160 MB hard disk. I brought it home and was amazed to see it boot in just over a minute with Mac OS 7.6!

It then crashed, and, when I restarted, gave me a sad Mac with an "F" as the last letter of the error code. When you get a sad Mac with an "F" as the last letter of the error code, it usually means a software problem. I was lucky and found my 7.6 CD and reinstalled the Mac OS. I also updated to 7.6.1 while I was at it. After doing a clean install of the OS, I decided to try the ultimate test: the Internet.

After installing the necessary components, I was surprised when it dialed my ISP's number and connected in just seconds. I then opened Internet Explorer (v. 2.1, in case you were wondering), and loaded Apple's home page. It was not bad for a 28.8 connection and a 68030 processor with no FPU. I then went to the Low End Mac website, and it loaded it in no time. Only then was I convinced that this was $25 well spent.

At a later date, I came across a couple more at $25 each; this time I thought the price was reasonable.

One had 9 MB of memory, an 80 MB hard disk, an Apple NuBus adapter, and an Apple Video Card 670 (a.k.a. 8*24, since it can show 8-bit colour or 24-bit colour). The other one had a 1.2 GB hard drive, 17 MB of memory, the Apple NuBus adapter, and another Apple 670 video card. I brought both home and updated the 9/80 to System 7.1 v3.0 successfully. I then installed some games, AOL (for a friend of mine), and Microsoft Word. It all went well. I connected a CTX 15" MultiScan VGA monitor (I had already installed a new video card) along with an AppleDesign keyboard and mouse. That friend will now use it for email, the Internet, some games, and word processing.

The 17/1.2 GB already had Mac OS 7.6.1 installed and came with everything else I would have installed for the Internet (Internet Explorer, FreePPP, etc.). That one will become a machine for me to keep permanently, since it is a great machine when it is fully configured.

You can do a lot with a IIsi. I know of a Mac IIsi being used as a server for an ethernet network, another being used to play kids games, and there are even some where I live being used for QuarkXPress and Illustrator.

The IIsi can be upgraded to a 68040 processor via upgrades made by DayStar, Sonnet, and a few other companies. These usually feature a 25 or 33 MHz 68040 or 68LC040 (without an FPU). However, with the price of upgrades now, and the falling price of 68040 based machines, if you need '040 power, you are probably better off picking up an LC 475 or Quadra 610.

The memory in a IIsi can be upgraded to 17 MB using four 4 MB 30-pin SIMMs. It is also possible to upgrade memory to 33 or 65 MB using 8 MB or 16 MB SIMMs. I have even heard of them being upgraded to 129 MB!

The fact that you can often get a fairly well configured IIsi for so little is what makes it a very inexpensive and useful alternative to the more expensive Quadras and Power Macs.

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Open Link