B&W Macs and Games

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Games on early B&W Macs traded colors for a higher resolution and they often looked very good. However, this was difficult to do in Warlords, a turn-based strategy game with eight nations, where the color was the only way to differentiate between them. The Mac version has unique graphics for buildings and flags (held by warriors) to overcome the lack of colors and the result is surprisingly nice, but the colors on PC are more practical anyway.

Mac OS 7.1 CZ, Serial Cable and File Share

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I’ve installed a new “hard disk” in my PowerBook 100 a few months ago. However, until now, there was no time to install an operating system other than the primitive System 6.0.8E that I used in the floppy-only mode. My goal was to have a Czech version that would allow me to read and write documents with our unique letters like Ř/ř. With a help of my friend, I got the floppy images of Mac OS 7.1 CZ and was able to copy them on real floppies (using my modern iBook G4 and a generic USB drive).

Working with old Macs can be painful due to use of file metadata (called resource forks) that can be lost very easily. Old Mac apps insist on this metadata and refuse to open a file if metadata is lost. Having a modern Mac is always handy to prevent these situations.

I don’t have a Mac serial cable. However, I recently bought two adapters for the conversion from Mac/SGI 8-pin mini-DIN to PC DB9. Connecting these adapters to a standard null-modem on both sides worked well and I was able to copy programs and documents from another old Mac. I’ve also managed copying files from/to a modern Windows PC. I pack the files into a ZIP file (to preserve resource forks) inside a Mac emulator and copy it using ZMODEM.

Repairing PowerBook 100

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It took us three evenings to get two of the three PowerBooks back to life. The logic board of one of them was so damaged by leaked capacitors that it was impossible to fix it. The other two are now in a working state except for the SCSI hard drives. The most difficult part was to disassemble the display panel. The layer with liquid crystals contained several electrolytic capacitors that needed to be replaced as well. The original Conner drives did not properly spin up but that was expected behavior – I think that all first gen Conner 2.5-inch drives are already dead.

The only way to boot the laptop is to use an external floppy drive at the moment (or an external SCSI device). Running the System 6.0.8 from floppy is not very convenient. Fortunately, there is a nice solution. You can create a RAM disk, install the operating system into it and then set it as a boot device. PowerBook 100 is the only PowerBook with a persistent RAM disk function which content is backed up by three coin cell batteries. Data remains intact even after shutdown.