The Apple Network Server (ANS) is a short-lived line of PowerPC-based server computers manufactured by Apple Computer from February 1996 to April 1997, when it was discontinued due to poor sales. It was codenamed “Shiner” and originally consisted of two models, the Network Server 500/132 (“Shiner LE”, i.e., “low-end”) and the Network Server 700/150 (“Shiner HE”, i.e., “high-end”), which got a companion model, the Network Server 700/200 (also “Shiner HE”) with a faster CPU in November 1996. They are not a part of the Apple Macintosh line of computers; they were designed to run IBM’s AIX operating system and their ROM specifically prevented booting Mac OS. This makes them the last non-Macintosh desktop computers made by Apple to date. The 500/132, 700/150, and 700/200 sold in the U.S. market for $11,000, $15,000 and $19,000, respectively.
Apple Network Servers are not to be confused with the Apple Workgroup Servers and the Macintosh Servers, which were Macintosh workstations that shipped with server software and used Mac OS; the sole exception, the Workgroup Server 95—a Quadra 950 with an added SCSI controller that shipped with A/UX—was also capable of running Mac OS. Apple did not have comparable server hardware in their product lineup again until the introduction of the Xserve in 2002.
Last month, my friend the excellent Cameron Kaiser has updated a section of his awesome website. The section is called Floodgap ANSwers: The Apple Network Server Resource and it’s dedicated to this very machine. In the introduction, Cameron writes:
In 1998, I was a working stiff at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and the bookstore had an Apple Network Server 500/132 for their inventory system which the vendor wouldn’t support anymore. It was pristine and barely used, and sat in a corner. They asked me if I wanted it for anything, and I thought it would be fun to play with, so I wiped it and started its new long life. stockholm served as my do-everything server for 14 years until I finally decommissioned it in 2012 for an IBM POWER6, but it still works today and has a place of honour in my machine room. It was never flawless, but it was dependable and fascinating and a machine deserving of more than a footnote in Cupertino’s corporate history. This site, therefore, is my weak attempt at a memorial to the best enterprise-class machine Apple ever disowned.
Make sure to check out the various links Cameron provides on his page. I enjoyed the ANS FAQ and the AIX on ANS FAQ because, admittedly, I didn’t know much about this particular line of Apple servers and the operating system they run. I hope you’ll enjoy Cameron’s resource as much as I did. And remember to add his main website to your bookmarks, too. The typical System Folder reader will find a lot of valuable information and projects there.