Matt's Macs

May the OS Be with You!

- 2001.03.08 - Tip Jar

This column was first published in the MUGOO Newsletter in July 2000.

This new OS is something I gotta have. Mac OS 7.6 - or was it 8.0?

I am sure if I had a Power PC, it would be 8.5, 8.6, Performa 6359.0.something, and someday Mac OS X. Operating System upgrades from 7.1.2P up to 8.1 have been like going down a country road in Michigan in spring: Everything sure looks nice, but watch out for the potholes! In other words, new features and appearance sure is nice, but watch out for hardware obstacles to overcome such as RAM upgrades and additional hard drive space needed, not to mention incompatibility with applications.

The following is the rest of the journey to 8.1.

Mac OS 7.6.

Notwithstanding the fact that System 7.5.5 was, well, operating without crashes, I just had to have the new Mac OS 7.6. Even though the only tangible benefit would be a nominal speed bump on my Mac with a 68LC040 chip, I thought it would be nice to have an OS that corrected all the bugs in 7.5.x releases.

Well it did speed up my Mac! As a matter of fact, it sped up any Mac with a 68030 processor that was 32-bit clean. The gee-whiz stuff of 7.6 that come to mine are QuickTime 2.5, Plain Talk 1.5, Control Strip, Color Sync, and desktop printing. PC Exchange seemed to work better, too, as did virtual memory and copying folders.

On the downside, I was now really pushing use of RAM Doubler and virtual memory to eke out the 10 to 12 MB minimum RAM required to run OS 7.6 on a computer with only 5 MB of real RAM. So, I bit the bullet and bought a 16 MB SIMM. Fortunately, RAM prices came down to $10/MB - approximately $160 for a 16 MB SIMM. This was an acceptable alternative, to my wife anyway, to buying a newer, faster Mac with a Power PC processor costing several thousand dollars.

Mac OS 7.6 was running great now, although I sacrificed more hard drive space, about 70 MB on my 250 MB hard drive. Biting the bullet again, rather than spending several hundred dollars for a large drive that I thought I could never fill (at 2 gigabytes), I bought a Zip drive and several Zip Disks. At this point, I thought that with 20 MB of RAM and my 250 MB hard drive with several 100 MB Zip disks, I would be set for a very long time.

Mac OS 8.1

Several months later, Mac OS 8 came out. Was I hopping mad! I gritted my teeth thinking that if I had only waited several months, I could have purchased Mac OS 8.0 and saved myself some money by skipping Mac OS 7.6. After all, 8.0 promised a new Finder, overall appearance, and more code that only a 68040 processor and/or a Power PC Mac could run, resulting in more performance gains.

Well, in my my mind, it did deliver. The Platinum appearance was striking, the desktop screen pictures was almost as good as Decor, the ability to manage content of individual windows is great, and, for me, the most useful feature was having a keyboard shortcut to put things into the Trash.

Next Time: Completing 8.1 Upgrade, Software and Hardware Upgrades come together.

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