Compact Flash performance on the PowerBook 5300: very first impressions

In my article about the recently received PowerBook 1400c, I wrote:

The intriguing part of this setup is booting from the Compact Flash card: everything is even more responsive (opening applications, opening files, saving files) and the PowerBook becomes practically silent. […]

Just for fun, I performed an informal test. I booted the PowerBook 1400 in Mac OS 8.1 from its internal hard drive, then I booted in Mac OS 7.6.1 from the CF card, then I booted in Mac OS 8.6 from the PCMCIA Toshiba hard drive, measuring boot times using my iPhone’s stopwatch (all the following are cold boots, not just restarts; all times are approximate):

  • Internal hard drive (Mac OS 8.1): 54 seconds.
  • Compact Flash card (Mac OS 7.6.1): 47 seconds.
  • PCMCIA hard drive (Mac OS 8.6): 1 minute, 12 seconds.

As you can see, on this PowerBook 1400c there isn’t a dramatic difference between booting from the internal hard drive and from the Compact Flash card. Maybe it’s because the hard drive isn’t a bad performer after all; maybe it’s because of the G3/333 processor upgrade; I don’t know. Earlier today I wanted to test a hunch I had — that the Compact Flash solution would be an even better alternative for my PowerBook 5300. This machine has just a 117 MHz processor, and a noticeably slower hard drive than the one in the PowerBook 1400.

So I inserted the Compact Flash card with Mac OS 7.6.1 in the PowerBook 5300 and performed the same test as quoted above. First I booted the PowerBook 5300 from its internal hard drive, then I selected the CF card in the Startup Disk control panel, turned off the machine, and booted it from the CF card, again measuring boot times with a stopwatch. The results:

  • Internal hard drive (Mac OS 8.1): 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
  • Compact Flash card (Mac OS 7.6.1): 1 minute, 5 seconds.

Less than half the time when booting from the CF card! True, those are two different versions of Mac OS, but the amount of extensions loaded during start-up is more or less the same.

After starting the PowerBook 5300 from the CF card, I opened control panels, applications, files, and the PowerBook 5300 felt way more responsive than when operating from the internal hard drive. And considering how noisy the 1.1 GB IBM hard drive is, one really appreciates the quiet when working from the Compact Flash card.

As I said, these are just very first impressions, and I’ll perform a more thorough investigation in the following days, but what I’ve seen so far has left me rather amazed. I expected a better performance overall, since that internal hard drive is definitely a slug, but the difference is noticeable even after a cursory examination.


Added to the collection: PowerBook 1400c

PowerBook 1400c

This year, Christmas has come a bit earlier for me — I’m truly grateful to Alex Roddie for donating this beautiful PowerBook 1400c. The machine is in great shape, has very nice tech specs, and came with a bunch of extras which pretty much make it a complete system.

This is a PowerBook 1400c/166 from 1997, which means that it was already one of the best models in the PowerBook 1400 series when it came out, featuring the better active-matrix colour (TFT) 11.3″ display (the 1400cs had a DualScan passive matrix display), and the faster PowerPC 603ev CPU at 166 MHz. But what’s even better is that this unit comes with a Sonnet Crescendo G3 processor upgrade card installed, meaning its original processor has been replaced by a PowerPC 750 (G3) running at 333 MHz. It has 48 MB of RAM and an internal 2 GB hard drive.

Sonnet Crescendo sticker

And now, the extras:

  • Floppy drive module, 6x CD-ROM drive module, and VST Zip 100 drive module. All three drives work perfectly.
  • Two Transcend PCMCIA Compact Flash adapters. One includes an industrial-grade Transcend 512 MB Compact Flash card.
  • A Farallon PCMCIA Ethernet card, plus cable, plus an Ethernet cable extension (which is really useful when you have short Ethernet cables).

The PowerBook came with Mac OS 8.1 installed on the main hard drive, and a standard install of Mac OS 7.6.1 on the 512 MB CF card.

The only two ‘issues’ (between quotes, because neither really bothers me): the PowerBook doesn’t have a battery, and the CD-ROM drive module is missing the front panel. The latter, I’ve read, appears to be a common issue with this kind of modules. The drive works well and has read all the CDs I’ve thrown at it in the past few days, so I really can’t complain. As for the missing battery, even if the PowerBook had one, it would have probably held very little charge anyway, and it would have added a considerable weight to the machine. Thankfully, Alex left the empty plastic shell, so that the battery compartment looks populated from outside and there isn’t a hole where the battery is supposed to be. Normally, a PowerBook 1400 weighs 3 kilograms fully loaded. Thanks to the missing battery, my unit weighs approximately 2.7 kilograms. Not bad. (For comparison’s sake: the PowerBook G3 Lombard weighs 2.7 kilograms, the PowerBook G4 Titanium weighs 2.4 kilograms, the PowerBook G4 12″ weighs 2.1 kilograms, and the original clamshell iBook G3 weighs 3.04 kilograms.)

I’m still in the ‘playing around’ phase, importing needed applications and documents, and generally getting the feel of this machine, but I’m already impressed by its responsiveness (thanks to the G3 upgrade), its expandability and versatility, and of course by its keyboard. I had heard many people praise the PowerBook 1400’s keyboard as one of the best keyboards in an Apple laptop, and I can confirm its reputation. I was already finding the PowerBook 5300’s keyboard good enough, but the 1400’s is an order of magnitude better.

The intriguing part of this setup is booting from the Compact Flash card: everything is even more responsive (opening applications, opening files, saving files) and the PowerBook becomes practically silent. If you have a PowerBook of this vintage that has at least one PCMCIA slot, and want to try this kind of ‘solid state’ solution, check out this article on Alex Roddie’s Macintosh HD blog: Create a Compact Flash boot drive for your old PowerBook.

I also happen to own another excellent accessory that has become even more useful since this PowerBook 1400 entered my little collection: a 2 GB PCMCIA Toshiba hard drive. It’s not particularly fast, but one real advantage is that it can be used to quickly transfer files between older and newer G3/G4 PowerBooks, since it is recognised by all PowerBooks without having to be reformatted.

Just for fun, I performed an informal test. I booted the PowerBook 1400 in Mac OS 8.1 from its internal hard drive, then I booted in Mac OS 7.6.1 from the CF card, then I booted in Mac OS 8.6 from the PCMCIA Toshiba hard drive, measuring boot times using my iPhone’s stopwatch (all the following are cold boots, not just restarts; all times are approximate):

  • Internal hard drive (Mac OS 8.1): 54 seconds.
  • Compact Flash card (Mac OS 7.6.1): 47 seconds.
  • PCMCIA hard drive (Mac OS 8.6): 1 minute, 12 seconds.

(My main machine, a mid-2009 MacBook Pro, with a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 8 GB of RAM takes no less than three minutes to complete the boot process. I really need to replace its hard drive with an SSD, but I’m digressing.)

I’m truly enjoying this ‘new’ PowerBook 1400, and it will likely replace the PowerBook 5300ce as my main vintage laptop for writing, Newton connection and QuickTake photos management. It’s simply faster, has a better keyboard, and is even more versatile. It’s a pity that its main limitation is the maximum amount of RAM — 64 MB, which was okay in 1997, but feels a bit tight especially if you own a PowerBook 1400 with a G3 processor upgrade. Due to the low amount of maximum RAM, you can’t install Mac OS X on this machine (though I guess the performance would be ridiculous even if it were possible), and even Mac OS 9.2 is problematic. All the suggestions from PowerBook 1400 owners I’ve read online point to Mac OS 8.1 and 8.6 as preferred system versions for this machine (if you have more than 24 MB of RAM installed), and I have to agree. I’m happy with the 8.1 installation that came with the PowerBook, and I’ll probably upgrade to 8.6 to see if I can get a PCMCIA Wireless card working with the PowerBook.

Final fun fact: I inserted the PowerBook 1400 serial number in TattleTech and the resulting information is that this unit was assembled in Elk Grove, California, USA on July 30, 1997.

Links

  • I think it’s worth adding Alex Roddie’s Macintosh HD blog to your bookmarks. Much like this site, it’s not updated very often, but when it is, it’s always a pleasure to read.
  • If you’re looking for PowerBook 1400-related resources, an excellent starting place is Low End Mac’s PowerBook 1400 page. There are a lot of interesting links at the bottom. You’ll occasionally stumble on a dead link, but the Wayback Machine is your friend.
  • If you’re specifically interested in reading about the Sonnet Crescendo G3 upgrade card, you’ll like the review by Joost van de Griek.

So I got a Wi-Fi USB adapter for my Cube

I have recently updated the configuration of my home wireless network. On the one hand, I’m finally enjoying a faster, more stable connection from my studio; on the other hand, it seems that the AirPort card in my Power Mac G4 Cube isn’t enough to keep the Cube connected to the network. The Cube tries to connect to the farthest base station, not acknowledging the one near my studio door. As far as my investigation went, it’s not because the new network configuration isn’t compatible with the older 802.11b protocol, but it appears that the second AirPort Express base station used to extend the network range sometimes broadcasts through channels that aren’t picked up by the Cube’s AirPort card.

A situation like this has many workarounds. For example:

  1. I could connect the Cube to the nearest AirPort Express base station with an Ethernet cable. The downside: the cable would be in the way when entering my studio. And I have already tripped over it in the past when I had to temporarily connect my main MacBook Pro to the network.
  2. I could connect the Cube to the MacBook Pro via Ethernet or FireWire cable and have the MacBook Pro share its Internet connection. The downside: There isn’t one, technically. The FireWire network sharing isn’t a solution for me because my Time Machine external drive is connected to the MacBook Pro via FireWire, so I could use Ethernet. Let’s say I don’t like the idea of having a Mac so dependent on another for Internet connectivity.
  3. I could set up another (vintage) Mac to connect to the home Wi-Fi network then share that connection for the Cube. The downsides: Another wireless client impacting network performance; all the redundancy and ‘waste’ of having another Mac in operation just for the sake of providing connection; and finally, like noted above, the Cube wouldn’t be an independent machine with regard to connectivity.
  4. I could search for a Wi-Fi adapter for the Cube.

Of course I chose №4, because it’s the option that makes more sense and has no significant downsides. I also went looking for USB Wi-Fi adapters, as opposed to Ethernet/Wi-Fi adapters, mostly because I thought I’d probably have more luck finding one locally (which, as it turns out, is exactly what happened).

Only one problem remained: finding a USB Wi-Fi adapter compatible with a Mac OS X version as old as 10.4 Tiger. I started searching the Web more carefully, and I also asked on Twitter and App.net for suggestions. I got two:

Both these products support Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and later versions. During my search I also found NewerTech’s MaxPower USB Wireless Adapter, but the minimum Mac OS X system supported is 10.5 Leopard.

Then I went to the city centre, to take a look around in a local electronics store. There are a lot of USB Wi-Fi adapters out there, and most of them have only Windows drivers. But after examining no fewer than fifteen different product boxes (system requirements are often in small print, half-covered by price labels and barcodes), I found this:

N150

It’s a Sitecom N150 Wi-Fi USB Adapter. On the box, it said it’s compatible with Mac OS X 10.4. After learning it costs just €12.95, I decided to take a chance and purchase it. It works, so I felt I should share, in case someone else is trying to give their vintage Macs more current Wi-Fi options.

The box contains the small USB dongle, a leaflet with instructions, and a CD-ROM with the drivers. I appreciate that the Mac drivers are neatly organised in folders with separate packages for Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8. The setup is pretty straightforward: You install the drivers, restart the Mac, insert the USB dongle, and that’s it.

On my Cube, after restarting, I noticed that an application called ‘Wireless Network Utility’ was also installed, and it opened automatically, suggesting I enabled the driver in System Preferences. System Preferences also opened, and the Network pane informed me that a new port was recognised, Ethernet Adaptor (en3). I turned off AirPort, went back to the Sitecom Wireless Network Utility, and connected to my home network:

Sitecom wnu

Of course, I can’t achieve amazing transfer speeds, since the Cube has USB 1.1 ports, but I wasn’t looking for speed — all I wanted was a reliable, stable connection. The Wireless Network Utility application is rich with features and information, and that’s quite welcome. The only minor annoyance is that there is no menu icon in the menubar, and I have to do everything by accessing this app. Also, sometimes the adapter doesn’t reconnect automatically to the network when waking the Cube from sleep, so again I have to open the app and manually select the home network. As I said, minor annoyances, since I leave the Cube on throughout the day. All in all, I’m happy with this solution, and surprised I found a network adapter with PowerPC support so easily and, above all, in a local shop.

If you have other suggestions for particularly good products in this category, feel free to add your comments. Thank you.


iPad + an Apple ADB keyboard

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While I’m waiting for my Incase Origami Workstation to arrive, a few nights ago I wanted to try something with my iPad. Admittedly, the inspiration behind my attempt comes from this article by Ben Brooks. Like Ben, I found the combination of iPad + a mechanical keyboard to be quite lovely. Having a good deal of old Apple mechanical keyboards, I wanted to try to come up with a similar setup, just for fun.

Time ago, I had tried connecting to my iPad the blueberry Apple USB Keyboard that came with the first iMac in 1998, by using the Camera Connection Kit accessory, but it didn’t work. The iPad complained that the device was not recognised, and indeed, typing had no effect.

So when the other night I assembled the contraption you see above, I really had no hopes it would work. As you can see, the parts involved are:

  • A third-generation iPad
  • The Camera Connection Kit for iPad
  • An iMate ADB-to-USB adapter
  • An ADB Apple Standard Keyboard M0116 introduced in 1987

As soon as the connection was established, I was surprised that iOS recognised and identified the iMate adapter — but it also gave the Device not supported warning. But the fact that the virtual keyboard wasn’t appearing when invoked gave me hope. I opened a text editor app (in this case the great Daedalus Touch by The Soulmen) and the keyboard was recognised right away. Once I got the layout right (I had to shift to English US), every key, modifier, and symbol were recognised correctly.

I won’t be using this setup when I’m out an about — it’s a bit cumbersome to carry around — but the experience felt really great, to the point that I ended up writing an article right there and then!


Taking the QuickTake 100 for a spin

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A couple of weeks ago, I received a fantastic donation: a working Apple QuickTake 100 camera in its original box and in like-new condition. Since I’m not the kind of Apple collector who just puts his conquests on display and routinely dusts them, the first thing I did after taking the camera out of the box was to look for the necessary QuickTake software, put some fresh batteries in, and start taking test photos in different lighting conditions.

This article is meant to be an overview and a series of impressions gathered after using the QuickTake for a few days. Still, I hope it’ll give you an idea of what is like handling a 20-year-old camera and the associated software.

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Tech specs, a refresher

The QuickTake 100 is a camera that was designed in 1992, introduced in January 1994, and discontinued in May 1995. By today’s standards, every technical aspect of the QuickTake 100 is ridiculous, and you immediately realise how far we’ve come in twenty years of digital camera technology advancements.

The QuickTake takes 24-bit full-colour images at a maximum resolution of 640×480 pixels, which means less than 1 megapixel. As for the optics, the QuickTake is equipped with a fixed-focus lens, has a built-in flash, its AE system picks a combination of aperture from f2.8 to f16 and a shutter speed of 1/30 to 1/175 of a second. The camera doesn’t have a removable flash card for storing pictures, but an internal 1 MB Flash EPROM (you read that well, one megabyte), which can hold 8 high-resolution images (640×480), 32 standard-resolution images (320×240), or a combination of the two. Images are saved in what I’d call a QuickTake flavour of the PICT format, since you need the QuickTake™ Image extension to be able to see the pictures that come straight out of the camera.

The QuickTake connects to the Mac via serial cable. If your vintage Mac comes with separate Modem and Printer ports, you should connect it to the Printer port. If you connect it to the Modem port, you’ll still be able to access the camera, but you’ll have to turn AppleTalk off (the camera software will issue such warning.)

The system requirements are rather modest and include a wide range of Macs: any Macintosh with a Motorola 68020 or faster processor, with System 7.1 or later, will do. As the QuickTake software’s Read Me document informs, The QuickTake 1.0 software works best on a Macintosh with at least 8 MB of RAM or 4 MB of RAM with 8 MB of virtual memory.

Battery life

The QuickTake 100 needs three AA cells to operate. (It supports rechargeable NiCd batteries, Alkaline, R6P, or SUM-3 NiCad or lithium batteries.) Battery life looks good so far: after a few days of use and roughly 40 shots, the battery indicator is still on ‘full.’ This is nothing conclusive, of course, since I’ve used the camera only occasionally, and shooting sessions have been brief affairs so far.

Handling the camera

I love the design of the QuickTake 100. The camera isn’t exceedingly bulky, and it invites you to handle it as it were a pair of compact binoculars — though of course you don’t need to hold the camera with both hands. You turn on the QuickTake by sliding the front lid that protects the lens, the viewfinder lens and the sensors:

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The viewfinder is a rather small window without overlays or indicators. The only thing you get is a round green light below the window, which will be on when the camera’s ready to take a photo.

I also like the design of the door covering the serial port and the power adapter port:
 
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The door doesn’t feel flimsy at all, and as you can guess by looking at the photo, to open it you have to push-and-slide, so that it’s unlikely you’ll open it by mistake when handling the camera. The battery compartment door is, again, sturdy and you’ll have to exercise a bit of force to open it.

I love the design and position of the shutter release as well. When you hold the camera, you feel it under your index and middle fingers. You don’t have to press it much to snap a photo, and it’s really quiet.

Despite having a hard plastic body (the same material of the PowerBooks of the era), the QuickTake feels sturdy and ‘full’ when you hold it. No cracking sounds or the feeling that something got loose inside, if you know what I mean. The camera, with the 3 AA cells necessary to power it, weighs exactly 500 grams; that surprised me a little, because it feels lighter during use. For comparison, my Newton MessagePad 2100 weighs 140 grams more, but feels much heavier when I hold it.

The controls on the back of the camera are, um, essential. Next to the viewfinder is a small square LCD display indicating number of pictures taken, number of pictures left, battery life, flash, self-timer and current resolution. Around it are three small buttons to alter resolution, flash settings (Auto, Always on, Always off) and self-timer, and a fourth recessed button to delete the stored images. The LCD display has a great contrast, and it’s quite readable despite not being backlit.

The software

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At the time of writing, I’ve only used the QuickTake 1.0 application, which is, again, a bare-bones yet functional piece of software. You can use it to preview the images stored in the camera (the interface nicely presents them as ‘digital slides’), open & edit a single photo if you so desire, download all images or just the selected ones to the Macintosh, and even control the QuickTake from the Mac:

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In the Camera Controls window you’ll see an exact replica of the camera’s LCD display, and you can operate all the buttons from the Mac, including the shutter release. Pretty cool, considering it’s 20-year-old technology. (By looking at the screenshot above, you can also see that the QuickTake 100 apparently suffers from the Y2K bug, since it displays 1914 instead of 2014 in the timestamp above each photo.)

The QuickTake software offers a limited set of exporting options:
 
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I wasn’t able to successfully export an image in any of these formats because just when the application was almost done writing the exported file, it crashed with an “Error 1″ if I remember well. A great alternative (with many more editing options) has been Graphic Converter, which is an application I highly recommend whether you’re using the latest Intel Macs or vintage, pre-PowerPC Macs.

Converting and exporting images in another format than the original QuickTake PICT is essential if you want to see the photos on more modern Macs or Macs lacking the QuickTake™ Image extension in their Extensions folder. You won’t see anything otherwise.

When I downloaded the first photos I took with the QuickTake, I forgot to export them, I just copied them directly to my Titanium PowerBook G4 running Mac OS X 10.4.11 (and the Classic Environment, luckily). When I opened them and saw a blank image, these are the steps I had to follow to be able to see the pictures:

  1. Put the QuickTake™ Image extension in the System Folder of the Mac OS 9 installation. (That extension can be found in the software download at the Macintosh Garden I mentioned in my previous article.)
  2. Make sure I had a QuickTime Pro registration (in the QuickTime 6 software package running in Classic).
  3. Restart the Classic Environment.
  4. Open the QuickTake PICT files with PictureViewer (or with any other graphic application running in the Classic Environment for that matter — I suggest PictureViewer because it’s included with Mac OS and it does the job).
  5. In PictureViewer, choose File > Export.
  6. Export the file(s) in JPEG format, for example.
  7. The photos will be converted to JPEG and will be visible.

The photos

Honestly, I can’t say the QuickTake 100 takes great photos. We’re talking about a 0.3 Megapixel camera with 1993-1994 technology, after all. Still, some shots taken in particularly favourable conditions turned out better than I expected, given the hardware. None of the following photos has been altered in any way except for a PICT-to-JPEG conversion.

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This last photo surprised me because, as I’ve found out, the QuickTake isn’t usually very good at taking indoor photos without flash. In this shot, instead, the camera managed to capture the exact lighting of the place without altering the colours (the cafeteria was, admittedly, a bit less dark, but still) and to retain some details in the darker areas. Again, nothing extraordinary, but keep in mind the kind of hardware and technology we’re dealing with.

The camera takes better photos in broad daylight, or even indoors provided there’s ample illumination. I rarely use the flash when photographing, no matter which camera (or portable device) I’m using. Finding a good use for the QuickTake’s flash was difficult. When shooting indoors in a poorly-lit environment without flash, the result will be a uselessly dark picture. Using the flash in the same conditions will result in the typical scene where the subjects closest to the flash are too harshly illuminated, colours generally look altered, the background is dark, and the photos look crappy overall. There were a few instances, however, where using the flash outdoors in normal lighting as ‘fill flash’ actually improved the result a bit, by slightly lightening the shadows and providing more details in areas that would have turned out darker.

By the way, I was rather impressed by the QuickTake’s reaction time between shots when using the flash. I was accustomed to my Nikon Coolpixes which generally need 1-2 seconds.

Conclusion

Shooting with the QuickTake 100 is fun, all in all. And once the workflow with the Mac is set up, things start getting less painful. At the moment, I’m using the PowerBook 5300 to download and manage the photos. I convert them to JPEG files in Graphic Converter, then I send them over Ethernet to the Titanium PowerBook G4, and from there I upload to Dropbox the ones worth keeping. I could mount on the PowerBook 5300’s Desktop the Dropbox folder of the TiBook and upload the photos right away, to save one step of the process, but often I’d like to take a better look at the pictures on the bigger screen of the TiBook before sending them to the cloud.

Of course, given the photographic capabilities of today’s cameras and devices, using a QuickTake is just something a vintage Mac enthusiast does to show what was like taking photos with a consumer digital camera 20 years ago, and little else. Still, I’ve noticed how the photos taken with the QuickTake all tend to exhibit a kind of watercolour-like patina I find rather charming, and I think it could be used creatively, as if it were some sort of artistic filter. It’s a pity this camera isn’t more powerful, because it’s really well-designed and a joy to handle and carry around.


Added to the collection: QuickTake 100

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Thanks to the generous Steve W., the other day I received a beautiful QuickTake 100 camera in its original box, complete with serial cable, strap, and the battery booster pack, which is an accessory whose existence I wasn’t aware of:
 
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(From the manual: The QuickTake Battery Booster Pack (part number M2655G/A) […] extends the life of your batteries, letting you capture thousands of images before replacing the batteries. It comes with eight AA lithium batteries and plugs into the power adapter port on your camera.) Finding the original QuickTake software online wasn’t as straightforward as I thought. One of the first search results you get points to the amazingly-still-online Older Software Downloads Support Page on Apple’s site. Scrolling down to the Display and Peripheral Software Downloads section, you can find a few links relevant to the QuickTake:

  • Macintosh/Display-Peripheral/QuickTake/PhotoFlash_2.0_to_2.0.1.sea.bin
  • Macintosh/Display-Peripheral/QuickTake/PhotoFlash_2.0_to_2.0.1.txt
  • Macintosh/Display-Peripheral/QuickTake/QuickTake_for_Power_Mac_1.0.sea.bin
  • Macintosh/Display-Peripheral/QuickTake/QuickTake_for_Power_Mac_1.0.txt

The problem with that “QuickTake for Power Mac 1.0″ self-extracting archive is that you don’t get the complete QuickTake software to handle the camera. As the release notes in the associated text file inform:

When running this installer, it will prompt you for QuickTake Disk 1 and QuickTake Disk 2, which ship only with the QuickTake camera. QuickTake Disk 1 and QuickTake Disk 2 are not posted here, due to software licensing agreements.

Another problem is that if you want to use the camera with an older Mac with 68k architecture, that Apple Support page is of no use. Thankfully, the Macintosh Garden has once again proven to be a crucial resource. If you need a truly complete QuickTake software package, go to this page. In the downloadable StuffIt archive (11 MB) you’ll find:

  • Software for the QuickTake 100 camera — For Macintosh (68k and PPC architectures) and Windows
  • Software for the QuickTake 150 camera — For Macintosh and Windows
  • Software for the QuickTake 200 camera — For Macintosh
  • QuickTake Image 2.0.1 extension (Part of the QuickTake 100 and 150 installations; it appears to be a newer version than the one included in the original installations.)

In the next days I’ll post some first impressions after using the camera and the software. For the moment, I’ll link to an older article I published here some time ago: Reviews Reprinted: Apple QuickTake 100, a review that appeared on Personal Computer World (UK) magazine in 1994, when the QuickTake 100 was introduced.


Hello, iPod

Hello ipod

To sweeten the vintage weekend, I just wanted to share a couple of iPod-related things. The first one is the video Apple made available on its site in October 2001 when the original iPod was introduced. I found it in one of my backups, possibly lying there for the past 13 years. It’s not hard to get hold of it if you look around on the Web (I’m sure YouTube is your friend), but I’d like to offer a direct link here for documentary reasons: iPod introduction video.

I must say, of all the Apple videos featuring Jonathan Ive, this is the one where Ive looks the most excited and possibly smiles the most. You’ll also notice someone who later left Apple to work with Palm…

As for the second thing, I thought I could assemble a useful table listing which iPod models can be managed by PowerPC Macs running Mac OS 9.x to Mac OS X 10.5.8 and which system software and iTunes version are required. I still don’t understand why more modern iPods — such as the 7th-gen. iPod nano or the 5th-gen. iPod touch and later — support Windows software as old as XP but require Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (and an Intel Mac, of course).

In case you acquire an old iPod model, in this table you can easily see your Mac/PC’s minimum requirements to be able to manage it.

System requirements (Mac OS, Windows, iTunes version) iPod models
Mac OS 9.2 or later
Mac OS X 10.1 or later

iTunes 2.0 or later

Original iPod (iPod with scroll wheel)
Mac OS 9.2.2 / Mac OS X 10.1.4 or later (Mac OS X 10.2 or later recommended)
Windows Me, 2000, XP (Home or Professional)

iTunes 3.0 or later

iPod with touch wheel (2nd-gen. iPod)
Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later (Mac OS X 10.2 or later recommended)
Windows Me, 2000, XP (Home or Professional)

iTunes 4.0 or later

iPod (Dock Connector) (3rd-gen. iPod)
Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later (Mac OS X 10.3 or later recommended)
Windows 2000 (SP 4), XP (Home or Professional)

iTunes 4.2 or later

iPod mini
Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later (Mac OS X 10.3 or later recommended)
USB 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.4 or Windows 2000 (SP 4) or Windows XP Home or Professional

iTunes 4.6 or later

iPod (Click wheel) (4th-gen. iPod)
iPod U2 Special Edition
Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later (for FireWire)

USB 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later or Windows 2000 (SP 4) or later or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 4.7 or later

iPod photo
iPod colour display
iPod U2 Special Edition (colour display)
Mac OS X 10.2.8 or Mac OS X 10.3.4 and later (Mac OS X 10.3.6 or later recommended for use with low-power USB ports)
Windows 2000 (SP 4) or later, or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 4.7.1 or later

iPod shuffle (1st gen.)
Mac OS X 10.2.8 or Mac OS X 10.3.4 and later (Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later recommended)
USB 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later or Windows 2000 (SP 4) or later or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 4.7.1

iPod mini (2nd gen.)
Mac OS X 10.3.4 and later
Windows 2000 (SP 4) or later, or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 5.0 or later

iPod nano (1st gen.)
Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later
Windows 2000 (SP 4) or later, or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 6.0 or later

5th-gen. iPod
Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later
Windows 2000 (SP 4) or later, or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 7.0 or later

5th-gen. iPod (U2 Special Edition)
5th-gen. iPod (late 2006)
5th-gen. iPod (U2 Special Edition – late 2006)
iPod nano (2nd gen.)
Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later
Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 7.0 or later (2006)
iTunes 7.4 or later (2007/2008)

iPod shuffle (2nd gen.)
Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later
Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 7.4 or later

iPod nano (3rd gen.)
iPod classic
Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later
Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 7.4 or later

iPod touch (1st gen.)
Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later
Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 2) or later

iTunes 8.0 or later

iPod touch (2nd gen.)
Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 3)

iTunes 8.0 or later

iPod nano (4th gen.)
iPod classic (120 GB)
iPod shuffle (3rd gen.)
Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP 3) or later

iTunes 9.0 or later

iPod shuffle (3rd gen. late 2009)
iPod nano (5th gen.)
iPod classic (160 GB – late 2009)
iPod touch (3rd gen.)
Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later
Windows 7, Vista, or XP Home or Professional (SP 3) or later

iTunes 10 or later

iPod nano (6th gen.)
iPod touch (4th gen.)

(Data collected using Mactracker.)


30 years of the Mac: peripherals

These days of celebration of the Mac’s 30th anniversary really had a deep ‘going down memory lane’ effect on me. Coincidentally, I was doing some major cleaning in my studio, and I found some things worth scanning. To avoid posting just a bunch of photos and images, I’ll try to make a series of posts, separating my findings in a more coherent way.

First off, I found a great book I thought I had lost when I relocated: The Graphic Designer’s Basic Guide to the Macintosh, Written by Michael Meyerowitz and Sam Sanchez. The book was published in 1990, and it’s full of very nice photos of Macs and peripherals of the time (too bad the photos are black and white, and not colour). Instead of focusing on the various Mac models portrayed therein — nothing really new to the vintage Mac enthusiast — I thought I’d scan and publish here a few images of interesting peripherals (monitors, printers, etc.). I’m doing this for ‘educational’ purposes and I hope the copyright owner will consider this fair use of the images.

Apologies for the quality of the scans. The original photos weren’t much better. I also scanned the captions, which should be perfectly readable, but I’ve transcribed them anyway just in case. I’ve also added links with additional information where possible.

Apple CD SC
The Apple CD SC is a front-loading disk drive that reads information from specially formatted compact disks. One compact disk can hold an entire encyclopedia.

 

Apple monitors
Apple monitors for the Macintosh II, IIx and IIcx. They include a 13-inch Apple Color RGB monitor, a 21-inch Apple two-page monochrome monitor, a 15-inch Macintosh portrait display monitor and a 12-inch monochrome monitor.

 

Bernoulli
The Bernoulli Box is one of several cartridge systems that stores information on a removable disk.

Further reading: The Bernoulli Box A220H

 

Linotronic
Linotronic laser imagesetters produce professional-quality text, line art and halftones on film, paper, or press-ready plates. The Linotronic is one of several high-end machines that can be used to produce camera ready layouts.

 

Montage FR1
Presentation Technologies’ Montage FR1 film recorder with optional TC1 camera back for creating overheads and instant prints of work created on the Macintosh.

 

Original Mac  accessories
The original Macintosh with mouse and keyboard. Add-ons included the ImageWriter dot matrix printer, external disk drive, numeric keyboard, a modem, and carrying case.

 

QMS ColorScript 100
The QMS ColorScript 100 color laser printer. Although expensive, color laser printer technology is moving forward rapidly and prices are starting to drop.

 

ScanMan SE
A ScanMan hand-held scanner by Logitech for the Macintosh Plus, SE and II. Hand-held scanners are inexpensive, easy to use, and provide a quick way of scanning small pieces of artwork.

Watch an edition on scanners from the TV programme Computer Chronicles, made available by the Internet Archive. Originally broadcast in 1991. (30-minute video)

 

SE30 Radius
Radius two-page monitor for the Macintosh SE/30. The obvious advantage of this size monitor is its ability to display a double-page spread at actual size.

Further reading: Radius Full Page Display at 32by32.com

 

Thunderscan
An inexpensive scanning option: Thunderscan replaces the printhead of the Apple ImageWriter with an electronic eye that reads the image as it rolls through the printer’s paper-feed mechanism.

Further reading: Andy Hertzfeld on the Thunderscan at Folklore.org


Some other vintage brochures (Part 3)

While I was looking for more vintage Italian Apple brochures and leaflets, I also found some printed material from other manufacturers — mostly leaflets, small booklets and mini-magazines printed exclusively for the tech trade fairs I used to attend. While most of such non-Apple material isn’t very striking, imaginative or otherwise memorable, I stumbled upon a few little gems lovers of vintage technology will surely appreciate…

QuarkXPress4 A

The 10 Best Things about QuarkXPress 4.0 (Front) — A cardboard leaflet from 1997. Apologies for the evident crease across the middle: since the leaflet isn’t standard A4 format, I foolishly folded it when I stored it 15 years ago.


QuarkXPress4 B

The 10 Best Things about QuarkXPress 4.0 (Back)


IomegaZIP1

Iomega Zip 100 Drive (Front) — A leaflet from circa 1996.


IomegaZIP2

Iomega Zip 100 Drive (Back)


IomegaJAZ2GB

Iomega 2 GB Jaz Drive — A leaflet from 1998.


Two last-minute Apple-related bonuses:

A Mac today

A generic Macintosh Italian ad. Judging by the type of PowerBook the guy is holding (a 190 or 5300), I’d say this ad is from 1995-1996. I didn’t remember having this among my stuff and I certainly don’t remember seeing it around much at the time. Translation: “Take it to the max. Get Macintosh. TODAY.”


Apple Masters of Media

Front cover of the 1996 Italian brochure “Masters of Media”. Quoting from this press release, Masters of Media was an initiative introduced at Seybold San Francisco 1995:

Perhaps the most important single place to visit at the show will be Apple’s Masters of Media Showcase, reportedly produced at a cost of more than $1 million and featuring several Seybold Hot Picks within its walls. It will include multiple vendors with real-world workflows (print, CD-ROM and the World Wide Web). Visitors will participate in authoring, editing and distributing content across all media. The theme will be integrated marketing based on a 1984 Macintosh commercial, including the making of a video, a magazine insert, a merchandising catalog, an in-store CD-ROM kiosk, customized direct mail, a newspaper, point-of-purchase displays and Web sites.

It has three primary components: Digital Brand Building; Cross-Media Authoring and Network Color, which will rely on ColorSync 2.0 as the universal translator so that color can be consistent across a desktop network.

Among the Hot Picks appearing in this Showcase but described below are the Canon ColorGear color-management system, the Agfa Chromapress digital press and the Indigo E-Print 1000 digital press.

Like many Apple printed advertisements, the tag line started on one page and ended on the next. Here the translated message is “Should we communicate more…” and turning the page you can read “…or better?” in big black letters set in Apple Garamond in the middle of a blank space.


And that’s all — for now at least. As I revisit my archives, I may find some other materials of this kind. If I find anything worth sharing, I’ll definitely scan it and publish it here.


Another vintage Mac story with a happy ending

I’m still doing some research for a couple of long articles I’ll hopefully publish next month, and I’m also in the process of consolidating and moving my small Mac magazines collection from the 1990s to a more accessible place, so that I can continue to offer some bits of Macintosh history through my ‘reprints’ of interesting excerpts.

In the meantime I break the silence with a link to a nice story involving a Macintosh 128K and an ImageWriter.

Macintosh128k davidtucker

The other day I was browsing David Tucker’s website and wished I could have paid more attention before because I had missed this article from last year. David writes:

Sitting in the book arts lab I almost fell over as fellow docents carried in a beautiful Apple Macintosh 128k and sat it down in front of me.

Knowing I used to work for Apple the computer was brought in and placed before me partially in jest, it had been assumed that the machine probably didn’t work as it had been packed away in a box for who knows how long up back in some rafters.

Follow the link and read the story of how David managed to get the Mac and the printer (especially the printer) back to their feet. I really like this bit at the end:

The museum has always focused on “antique” printing methods, at 27 years old this machine is not nearly as old as our Gutenberg presses or Heidelberg windmills but indeed made and equally important milestone in printing history. Bringing this whole system back to life now ensures that this piece of the story is not lost and we can continue to teach its place in history.

Good job, David. Another system saved from the landfill.


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