Box is friendlier than Dropbox for older Macs

Ever since Dropbox dropped support for PowerPC Macs running Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5, I’ve been trying to find a viable alternative to sync selected files and folders between my main Intel Mac, my iOS devices, and my various PowerPC machines. It was so great when Dropbox worked because I generally use my main Intel Mac at home, and tend to bring with me my PowerBook G4s when out and about. As I mentioned in A modicum of synchronisation, “When Dropbox worked, my workflow was excellent. I kept everything in sync without effort. I started working on documents on the PowerBook G4 to finish them later at home on the MacBook Pro, and vice versa. It was a seamless process.”

In the comments to that article, I was pointed to this thread at MacRumors, which explains how to make Dropbox work again if you’re using a PowerPC Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. I haven’t tried this solution because I also have three Macs running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and I’d really like to sync as many machines as possible.

In addition to the options I outlined in A modicum of synchronisation, in recent times I have often resorted to browsing my Dropbox archive using the web interface. However, and I don’t know since when exactly, I haven’t been able to simply download files from Dropbox to my local machine through the web interface (using TenFourFox, which seems to be the only browser to at least load the Dropbox web interface properly). Instead of regular files, like, say, chapter-23.rtf, I get things like wjdv6xxq.part. Frustrated, I’ve simply copied all the folders I want to keep in sync to my account, and have started using Box, which has a much friendlier web interface, that loads faster and is generally more reliable.

But it’s not all. The other day I discovered that Box supports WebDAV. In this support article, they explain how to set it up, the known issues, and so on. This is a great option because you can use (as suggested) a third-party client to access and manage the files and folders in your Box account, and it’s much more convenient than using the web interface to download and upload files. I have used Panic’s Transmit 4.2 and it works great, though I haven’t been able to use the Transmit Disk feature to mount the remote volume on the desktop and use this solution in a more Dropbox-like way (when I try, a kernel panic is triggered). You can download Transmit from here, but remember that it’s not freeware: you’ll have to purchase a licence to use it.

It gets better: you can use Goliath, a long-standing, more bare-bones WebDAV client, which presents some advantages: it still works, it’s free, and it’s available for much older versions of Mac OS: the classic Mac OS version requires Mac OS 8.1 or higher. The Carbon version runs on any Mac OS X version greater than 10.0.4. This means that you can theoretically use even older Macintoshes to connect to Box via WebDAV. (I say ‘theoretically’ simply because I haven’t tried myself yet, but I will soon. I’ll use my iBook G3/300 running Mac OS 9.2.2 and my PowerBook 1400 running Mac OS 8.1 and will update this information at a later date.)

Goliath’s interface is simple and effective:


You can expand folders by clicking on the triangle next to their names, or you can double-click on a folder and have it open in a new window. It’s very easy to upload a file to a folder in your Box account: you just drag from the Finder and drop it on the destination folder in the Goliath window. To avoid having to type the WebDAV address of your Box ‘drive’ and your credentials every time, you can save them by selecting File > Save connection (⌘-S).


Next time you need to access your Box stuff with Goliath, you simply select File > Open connection (⌘-O). I really hope Box doesn’t remove the WebDAV functionality in the future, because it’s really useful and convenient to have quick access to your files stored in the Box cloud even from older machines. It’s another little feature that helps to put them to good use.


[Update 1 – 19 Jul 2017] • Jeremy Sherman reminded me that WebDAV is supported directly by Mac OS X’s Finder itself since Mac OS X 10.0 (!). This means that you can simply select Go > Connect to Server (⌘-K) in the Finder, and enter Box’s WebDAV server address ( In the following dialog, you’ll be requested your Box account credentials:

Box WebDAV from Finder.png

The good thing is that this solution is even more integrated with the system and works with basically any version of Mac OS X. I maintain my suggestion to use Goliath because on older machines with G3 processors it feels a little bit faster, and because it’s still a good option for Macs running Mac OS 8.1 to 9.2.2.

[Update 2 – 20 Jul 2017] • I performed some tests on my clamshell iBook G3/300 running Mac OS X 10.3.9 and Mac OS 9.2.2. I tried connecting to my Box account via the Finder under Mac OS X 10.3.9, but I got an error -36. Using Goliath, everything went well. Under Mac OS 9.2.2, I had no problems connecting to my Box account with Goliath. Navigating folders and accessing files was pleasantly fast. Now I’m updating this article while out and about, using my 12-inch PowerBook G4, and I can add this screenshot that was uploaded directly to Box from the iBook with Mac OS 9.2.2:


Maybe I’m not the first to have realised it, but I think this is a big deal, and a huge improvement to my workflow, much more seamless than before. Thanks to WebDAV support in Box, and thanks to a client like Goliath, you can have access to a modern cloud service with — in this instance — an 18-year old Mac running a 16-year old system software. Tonight I will conduct further testing on the PowerBook 1400c with Mac OS 8.1. If all goes well, I’ll be able to connect to Box using a Mac from 1996 running an OS version introduced in 1998.

It’s also a big deal because transferring files between obsolete Macs, vintage Macs, modern Macs and even iOS devices has become much faster and much more seamless than before. And I can quickly upload to the cloud any file I may have archived on vintage media (floppies or ZIP disks, for example) without having to figure out which vintage Mac I have to use as intermediary to move files from a machine to another.

[Update 3 – 21 Jul 2017] • I finally had the chance to do some testing on my PowerBook 1400c (with Sonnet Crescendo G3/333 upgrade) running Mac OS 8.1. I downloaded and installed Goliath, but when I launched it I was greeted with an error, saying that the application couldn’t be opened because the file ICAp;InternetConfigLib was missing. After a bit of research, it appears that the reason was that I needed a newer Internet Config Extension than the one installed in the PowerBook (v. 1.3). Using TomeViewer, I extracted a newer version (2.0.2) from the Installation CD of Mac OS 8.5, hoping it wasn’t too new, and dropped it in the System Folder. I restarted the Mac, relaunched Goliath, and all was well. After filling in the relevant credentials, I was able to connect to my Box account:

One thing I noticed is that — presumably to maintain a proper secure connection — when I attempted a few copy operations at first, I frequently saw this dialog popping up:

But it went away after checking the Install certificate option and confirming a couple of times.

I’m very glad this is working even under Mac OS 8.1. Accessing Box via WebDAV really gives this cloud service the widest system compatibility. I have two other PowerPC machines running Mac OS 8.1, the PowerBook 5300ce and the Power Macintosh 9500, that are even slightly older than the 1400; it’s exciting to be able to exchange files through Box with these older Macs I still use. Of course, another thing I’ve noticed is that uploading and downloading isn’t a particularly fast operation, possibly due to the slower network speeds and slower CPUs of these machines. But it’s still useful when uploading the occasional screenshot or image, or a bunch of text files. It may not be a fast process under Mac OS 8, but it’s still seamless. I can write without distractions on the PowerBook 1400c, upload the document to Box, then finish it (if necessary) on the iPad or MacBook Pro.

Another thing worth noting: I don’t know if this happens when mounting the Box WebDAV volume with the Finder as opposed to using Goliath, or if this happens no matter which method you use to access your Box account and files, but every copy operation leaves a ‘ghost’ file bearing the same name of the file you copied, but preceded by ‘._’ — you can see it when accessing Box from an iOS device:

It’s a bit of an annoyance, but I think these files can be deleted without problems.

This document will be updated as more information becomes available.

The second-best browser for PPC Macs

Every time someone with a vintage G3/G4/G5 PowerPC Mac asks me what browser would be my preferred choice for such systems, I always suggests TenFourFox, because it’s stable, secure, and actively maintained. However, you may have a Mac that barely meets — or doesn’t meet at all — TenFourFox’s minimum system requirements:

TenFourFox requires a G3 Power Macintosh, Mac OS X 10.4.11, 200MB of free disk space and 512MB of RAM. 1GB of RAM and a G4 or G5 processor is strongly recommended. Video playback is likely to be poor on systems slower than 1.25GHz; a G5 is recommended. Mac OS X 10.5.8 is supported. Although the browser may run under Mac OS X Server, it is not currently supported.

For example, I have three machines I use from time to time:

  • A blueberry clamshell iBook G3/300, with 288MB of RAM, running Mac OS X 10.3.9;
  • A graphite clamshell iBook G3/466 SE, with 576MB of RAM, running Mac OS X 10.4.11;
  • A PowerBook G3/400 ‘Lombard’, with 256MB of RAM, running Mac OS X 10.4.11.

Of these, the only Mac that can (barely) run TenFourFox is the iBook G3/466.

So, which is the best alternative when your Mac isn’t powerful enough to smoothly run the excellent TenFourFox? In my opinion, it’s Camino.

Camino’s development ceased in 2012. Other alternatives, such as an older version of Opera, or the last version of Safari you can run under Panther or Tiger, are simply too old to be useful. Opera 10.63, the last version you can run under Tiger, was released in 2010. Camino is newer, and it also appears to be less resource-hungry.

Using my PowerBook G3/400 ‘Lombard’ as a test machine, I did an informal comparison between Safari 4.1.3 (the last version running under Tiger), Opera 10.63, and Camino 2.1.2. I’ve loaded some of the websites I visit most frequently, and assessed how each browser could render it. Camino always ended up serving the best or most usable version. As an example of a site that’s complex enough but not overly challenging, I’ll show here how the three browsers rendered the home page of Digital Photography Review.

This is Safari 4.1.3:


Note the message in the status bar: 83 errors occurred in opening the page.


This is Opera 10.63:


Not much different from Safari.


Finally, this is Camino 2.1.2:



Definitely better. Admittedly, while loading the site in Camino, this warning appeared:


I just clicked on Continue and DPReview loaded without issues. The unresponsive script mentioned in the warning is probably the website’s Twitter widget (as you can see above, it didn’t load). Nothing major.

Here’s another couple of examples, Macworld and The New York Times:


(Yes, curiously the ‘Macworld’ logo didn’t load.)




It’s worth pointing out that web browsing on a G3 Mac with just 256MB of RAM generally isn’t much fun. Websites take a bit to load, even those that look simple on the surface. Camino’s speed on such a Mac is the most acceptable in my experience.

Download and links

  • Camino 2.1.2 can still be downloaded from the official website. It requires Mac OS X 10.4. If your Mac won’t go past Mac OS X 10.3.9 (Panther), you could try Camino 1.6.11.
  • You can download processor-specific optimised builds of Camino from this website. While you’re there, check the home page, and you’ll find optimised builds of Firefox, Thunderbird, and SeaMonkey for PPC Macs.
  • The Wikipedia page for Camino offers a good overview of its history, timeline, and version compatibility.

Added to the collection: accessories and materials

With regard to acquisitions for my small collection, I can say that May was a really good month. After the very nice haul I talked about in my previous entry, I received a package from Morgan which contained a few items of interest:

  1. Macally 10BaseT/10Base2 Combo LC PDS Ethernet Adapter. After finally installing a similar Ethernet card in my Colour Classic, now I can give an Ethernet connection to my Performa 630, too.
  2. #alttext#

  3. PowerBook 1400 series User’s Guide in Italian. I’m a so-called ‘power user’, but it’s nice to have these manuals handy anyway. I really miss the quality of this kind of printed documentation.
  4. #alttext#

  5. Macintosh Advantage Information Kit. I saved the best for last. It seems that in the mid-1990s, Apple would send these materials for free to anyone who wanted to evangelise and spread the word about the superiority of the Macintosh platform. Here’s a scan of the envelope:
  6. #alttext#


And now the contents.

  • An introductory letter:


It should be readable, but here’s the full text:

Dear Mac Enthusiast:

Thank you for your order. Apple Computer is happy to provide you with these materials free of charge to help you spread the word about the Macintosh Advantage.

It’s easy to talk about the advantages of using a Macintosh if you think of them as belonging to one of these six groups:

Ease of Use: Making sophisticated technologies simple to use has always been one of Apple’s strengths. From true “Plug and Play” to active help through Apple Guide, now more than ever, the Macintosh is the easiest computer to own, use, and enjoy.

Multimedia: It takes more than capture boards, software and input devices to produce and view high quality multimedia. To combine such diverse media types as audio, video, MIDI, text, and animation, you must have an integrated solution; one designed from the ground up. With Apple’s QuickTime technology, three-dimensional graphics, video capture/playback, speech recognition and speech syntheses built into most Macintosh models, Macintosh is clearly the leader in multimedia and will continue to dominate this market.

Internet: Apple makes access to the Internet simple with the Apple Internet Connection Kit. And more web sites are authored on the Macintosh than any other platform. According to a recent Georgia Tech study, over 36% of web sites on the Internet are served by Macintosh servers.

Power: Powerful RISC technology now ships with every Macintosh. And with the introduction of the Power Macintosh 6500/300 with a 300 MHz 603e, and the 3400/240 with a 240 MHz 603e, Apple is producing some of the fastest consumer desktop and laptop computers on the planet!

Compatibility: The Macintosh fits in with almost all multi-vendor environments and can work seamlessly with PCs running MS-DOS, Windows 95 or Windows NT. For the ultimate in compatibility, the Power Macintosh 7300/180 PC Compatible with a PowerPC 604e running at 180 MHz and a Pentium 166 MHz chip on a daughter card allows you to run both Macintosh and Windows programs simultaneously.

Value: Apple is concerned about your investment. That’s why many Macintosh models ship with processors on daughter cards so they can be replaced with newer, faster processors as they become available, without having to purchase a new computer. Now configured with more RAM, bigger hard drives, faster CD ROMS, video in/out (many models), speech recognition, and the advanced features of the Mac OS, there has never been a better time to purchase a Macintosh.

Have you found more Macintosh advantages? Email us at Thank you for your support.

Apple Computer

Platform Marketing


  • A 4-page leaflet titled Apple and NeXT — Information about Apple’s OS strategy, January 1997:



  • A brochure titled Why Macintosh?, which reiterates a few points made in the accompanying letter. Here’s the introductory text:

More than 10 years after the debut of the Apple Macintosh computer, Microsoft released its Windows 95 operating system. But while Microsoft is just now adding to its Windows operating system features that Macintosh users have enjoyed since 1984, Apple has been busy moving Macintosh to the next generation of personal computing.

Apple remains the only personal computer company that makes both the hardware and the operating system, and we use that advantage to integrate advanced features quickly and seamlessly into our computers. That’s why Macintosh will continue to provide important advantages over PCs running Windows 95 in four major areas: Ease of use. Power. Multimedia. Compatibility.


  • A 14-page brochure titled 75 Macintosh Advantages — Why Macintosh computers are better than PCs running Windows:


As you have guessed, it’s a list of subjects and aspects where the Macintosh displays a clear advantage over a PC running Windows (Windows 95 at the time). The list covers different areas (Ease of use, Multimedia, Internet Technology, Power, Compatibility, Value — The same six areas introduced in the accompanying letter), and each point is explained in more detail.

Overall, it’s a fair assessment in my experience (I was both a Mac and PC user back then). There are points that made me smile, such as №5 Windows is loaded with ‘mystery’ files such as DLLs, INFs, and SYSs; Points that really sound dated today, such as №48 The Macintosh gives you 100 percent pure Java; Points that are a bit exaggerated, such as №27 The Macintosh trash can is easier to use than the Windows recycle bin, and №30 The two-button mouse used with Windows can cause confusion; And also points that are still valid today, such as №69 Macintosh computers retain their usability and value longer. It’s a fun read.


  • A 38-page booklet titled Why do People Prefer Macintosh?:


This is essentially a collection of testimonials of people who switched to the Mac from the PC. The introduction says:

Why do people prefer Macintosh?

Or more specifically, why do people think Apple Macintosh computers are better than PCs running Windows 95?

We asked this question on our web site (, and thousands responded with their view of the Macintosh Advantage.

And you know what? We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

See for yourself by looking at these excerpts from some of the responses. Find out how computer users — young and old, novice and experienced — sum up what they feel are the most compelling reasons to choose a Macintosh computer.

The booklet is full of different experiences, and it’s hard to pull quotes out of their context. There are, however, a few funny quips here and there:

“A Macintosh is better than Windows 95, because it connects to a Microsoft network easier!” (Hans Sorensen, Canada)

“We’re replacing my grandfather’s PC with a Power Macintosh 7500/75. And that’ll be the end of his late-night calls telling me he just wiped out his SYSTEM.INI file again.” (Tristan Bostone, Virginia)


MAC… The only three letters you really need to know.” (Marc Kodama, California)

“I have now connected my video camera and VCR to my Mac, and have been pumping video (and audio) in and out of my Mac. One of these days I’m going to open those manuals and really learn how to do this stuff!” (Walter Alexander, New Jersey)

This one sums it all up:

“Once you go Mac, you’ll never go back.” (Wade H. Nelson, Colorado)


  • A brochure titled Personal Computer Satisfaction — An Independent Study of People Who use Both Macintosh and Windows 95 Computers:



  • A brochure titled World Wide Web Server Cost-of-Ownership Study – June 1997:



  • And finally, some nice goodies:


I still haven’t had the time to properly explore the MacAdvocate II and the Mac OS 8 Demo Tour CD-ROMs (the latter is still shrink-wrapped!), having been ill for the past 2-3 weeks. The two items below the Mac OS 8 Demo Tour CD are two identical booklets containing information and statistics about the Macintosh platform as of January 1997. The three items on the right are stickers with the original rainbow Apple logo to place inside your car window. (The text on the back of the sticker reads: Show your Apple colors! Static ‘no glue’ logo for the inside of your car window. Call 800-373-0877 for more!).

Here’s how the Go figure booklet expands:


I may return on some of these items in future posts, and offer more details and comments. For now, I’ll just wrap this up and wholeheartedly thank my friend Morgan for sending me these materials. I had previously found a couple of low-resolution images and PDFs for one of the brochures mentioned above, but having the real thing in my hands is a whole other story!

A modicum of synchronisation

I’m still irked by Dropbox dropping support of PowerPC Macs running Tiger and Leopard. I know I’m not a typical Mac user, and that expecting support for an architecture that — at least on the Mac — was left behind in 2006 is a bit too much, especially given the short memory technology has nowadays. Still, I use a bunch of PowerPC Macs as secondary machines, they’re still useful and capable enough. When I work on some of my projects away from home, I often leave the Intel Mac at home and bring with me one of my G4 PowerBooks. When Dropbox worked, my workflow was excellent. I kept everything in sync without effort. I started working on documents on the PowerBook G4 to finish them later at home on the MacBook Pro, and vice versa. It was a seamless process.

Dropbox wasn’t the only thing I used to keep stuff in sync, but it had the best interface for handling files. Now that I’m left without it, here’s a brief overview of the tools I still use — tools that still work on PPC machines — to retain a modicum of synchronisation between my PowerPC Macs and more modern Apple devices:

  • Notational Velocity — This is an amazing tool for keeping notes in sync. The app is a Universal Binary that works great on a system as old as Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and as new as Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. The syncing service is through Simplenote, so all my notes and bits of text are also available and in sync on iOS devices thanks to the Simplenote app.
  • CloudApp — It’s a great software/service for quickly sharing screenshots and all kinds of different files (images, videos, code snippets, documents, etc.), and I also use it as a sort of ‘Dropbox Lite’ whenever I need to pass one or more files from my MacBook Pro to my G4 PowerBooks and vice versa. I was an early adopter, and version 1.x of CloudApp was available for PowerPC Macs running at least Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Surprisingly, it still works. Up until a few months ago, if you went to CloudApp’s Download page, you could still download older versions (unsupported, of course). Not anymore. But the WayBack Machine is your friend. And if that archived link should stop working as well, I have saved version 1.0.3 for PowerPC Macs here.
  • Firefox Sync — I only recently had the proverbial ‘eureka moment’, when I realised that by creating a Firefox account, not only could I keep browser tabs, bookmarks, passwords, history, add-ons and preferences synchronised between my MacBook Pro and my iOS devices, but I could also include my PowerPC Macs because TenFourFox supports Firefox Sync — at least for now. It’s great and very handy.
  • FTP — Always an option, of course. I resort to FTP when dealing with big files. I upload them on my server and use Transmit to handle my stuff. You can download older versions of Transmit from Panic’s archives at this page (the last version supporting PowerPC Macs should be 4.2 — You’ll still need to purchase a licence to use the app, naturally).

This is an important subject: having some form of synchronisation available to create a bridge between vintage Macs and modern devices is essential in order to keep older Macs useful. If you have other ideas, use other methods, or know about other applications/services which still support PowerPC Macs, feel free to chime in. Recently, I became interested in BitTorrent Sync, but it doesn’t explicitly support PowerPC Macs. However, by looking at the supported platforms, I was thinking that maybe there was a way to make the FreeBSD versions work… I’m not fluent enough in UNIX, though; if you are, your suggestions are welcome!

Accessing Gmail from an older version of OS X Mail

I have lost more than thirty minutes trying to solve a small but annoying problem. The solution is rather simple, but it may not be apparent at first. I hope this post can help others who have stumbled upon the same issue.

I have a low-traffic Gmail account I usually check on my Power Mac G4 Cube using in Mac OS X 10.4.11. Since it’s low-traffic, I don’t check it very often. But today I felt that a check was long overdue, so I opened Mail, clicked the Get Mail button, and I was presented with the annoying dialog box I sometimes see when there’s a network problem, the password confirmation dialog box. It appears that the server rejected my account password, so I was prompted to insert it again. I did, repeatedly, but to no avail.

So I logged in via the Web interface — without any problem — and found a message from Google that told me Google prevented the sign-in because it is from “an app that doesn’t meet modern security standards.”

At first I thought Google had updated/changed the server ports for incoming/outgoing mail, and after tweaking a few settings (I had the outgoing server port still set to ’25’ instead of ‘465’), I tried again to download my email messages. No joy. I then tried to look for an answer in the Gmail support pages, but my frustration and annoyance prevented me from finding what I was looking for more promptly.

I was about to give up, when I noticed an error message in Mail from the Gmail server that thankfully contained the link I was searching, and access to Gmail from under Mac OS X Tiger was restored. The essential page is this one: Allowing less secure apps to access your account. You have to make sure you reach this page after you have signed in the problematic account via the Web interface.

Look down the page until you find this bit:

Gmail less secure

Click on the “Less secure apps” section of MyAccount link and you’ll be taken to the Less secure apps page. Click the Turn on radio button to allow access for less secure apps. Now go back to Mail, check for new mail, and the messages should start downloading.

Again, I hope this helps. And I hope it’s clear that in so doing, you’re choosing to weaken the security of your Gmail account(s) in exchange for the convenience of accessing the account(s) from a vintage Mac with older software. In my case, it’s not an important or primary email account, I have been downloading mail on the Cube from that account for the past six years, and I wanted to continue to do so.

A nice UI detail in NEXTSTEP’s Webster app

Nextstep webster

It’s that time of the year when I get drawn to the NeXT platform once again. Unfortunately I do not own any NeXT hardware, so I have to resort to software emulation to explore and interact with the NEXTSTEP operating system.

After starting the NEXTSTEP 3.3 virtual machine in Fusion, I was checking some unrelated information, when I remembered that NEXTSTEP had its own built-in Webster dictionary. When I opened the application, I noticed a nifty UI detail. You can tell the application to search for a term in the Dictionary, in the Thesaurus, or have both results in the same window. You can see at a glance where you’re searching, because the icon in the Dictionary and Thesaurus button will appear as an open or closed dictionary accordingly. So, in the image above, you can tell at once you’re just seeing results in the Webster Dictionary. To search the Thesaurus, you click on the Thesaurus button, and it’ll change to an open book icon. Vice versa, if you only want to see results from the Thesaurus and not the Dictionary, you click on the Dictionary button and it will ‘close’. It’s a very subtle, very clever UI detail that’s perfectly intuitive because it depicts exactly the action you’re carrying out — ‘opening’ the book you want to consult, and ‘closing’ the book you’re not interested in.

It’s interesting to note that in Mac OS X’s Dictionary app, you can’t have a concurrent view of the results from both the Dictionary and the Thesaurus, unless you open the app’s Preferences, deselect all the resources you don’t want to display except the Dictionary and Thesaurus, and select All in the sources toolbar after entering the search term in the main window. (Or you can choose File > New Window from the menu and have two app windows, one for the Dictionary, one for the Thesaurus, but it’s more cumbersome because you have to type the same search term in both windows.)

Finally: bringing Internet to my Colour Classic

Among the various goodies Richard donated me there was an Apple-branded Comm Slot Ethernet card (Part № 820-0607-A), which I hoped I could attach to my Colour Classic to bring Ethernet connectivity — and therefore Internet — to my favourite compact Mac. Now, the original Colour Classic motherboard doesn’t have a Comm Slot interface, its only expansion comes in the form of a PDS slot. Luckily, years ago I also acquired the motherboard from a Macintosh LC 580, which fits perfectly in a Colour Classic and makes for a nice overall upgrade (it has a Motorola 68LC040 at 33MHz CPU versus the original 68030 at 16MHz of the Colour Classic, and the RAM can be expanded to a maximum of 52 MB instead of the meagre 10 MB of the original motherboard). The LC 580’s motherboard also sports a Comm Slot interface, and the aforementioned Ethernet card can be installed without problems [Update: It’s actually a Macintosh LC 575 motherboard; see my clarification]:

Comm Slot Ethernet card installed

The first snag I encountered was right when I attempted to insert the motherboard with the attached Ethernet card back inside the Colour Classic. The top edge of the card, in fact, collided with a piece of plastic inside the Mac’s chassis that helps to keep the cables of the hard drive power connector in place. I took measurements and, not without difficulty, managed to cut away exactly where the plastic was blocking the card’s passage. Once firmly inserted the motherboard, I turned the Colour Classic on. The Mac booted normally, but there was no video. Suspicions fell immediately on the new card. Since the system had no way of recognising it, I thought, perhaps it defaulted to thinking that a video card was inserted in the Comm Slot, so it shut down internal video and expected an external connection. I had to make the system recognise the card.

Fortunately I had my copy of Apple’s Network Software Installer 1.5.1 on a floppy disk, which updates AppleTalk to version 58.1.5 and installs the most updated versions of a series of network extensions and drivers. I turned the Mac off, removed the card, turned the Mac on again, inserted the floppy and launched the Installer. After a few moments, AppleTalk was updated, the Apple Ethernet CS driver and related extensions installed (the following screenshot comes from a previous attempt, before I updated to AppleTalk 58.1.5):

Network install

To see if everything worked, once again I had to turn the Colour Classic off, remove the motherboard, install the Ethernet card, reinsert the motherboard and turn the Mac on. This time there was video, and the Mac booted normally.

Another good sign was when I connected an Ethernet cable from my router to the Colour Classic: the LED above the port turned on (that didn’t happen when I first attempted an EtherTalk connection between the Colour Classic and the PowerBook 1400). At this point it was merely a matter of configuring MacTCP:

MacTCP setup

The easiest way to set things up in MacTCP is to do a manual configuration. I did things right thanks mostly to two useful resources: Vintage Mac World’s Old Macintosh System Software and TCP/IP page, and the fantastic Classic Mac Networking page (scroll down until you find the MacTCP section). On this page in particular was a really useful clarification:

It is a common mistake to associate the “Server” mode of MacTCP with “DHCP Server”: this is not the case. Server mode is used with hardware MacIP routers like the GatorBox which assign the client a specified IP address from a pool of IP addresses, or with PPP which does a somewhat similar affair.

So I simply selected Obtain Address Manually, specified a Class C Address in the IP Address area, and entered my provider’s DNS addresses in the Domain Name Server Information area.

At this point, the only thing that was missing to check if the connection worked was a browser. On another floppy I had a copy of one of the earliest Mac browsers, Samba (MacWWW). I installed it and launched it. It threw some errors because it attempted to load pages at the old CERN website that are no longer at the original addresses, but once I entered a valid URL (I figured the afore-linked page at Vintage Mac World was simple enough to be loaded correctly), the webpage loaded almost instantly. I had to share my triumph:

But MacWWW 1.03 is indeed a very old browser, and today’s Web, unless you really know where to look, is too complex for this browser to load pages properly without throwing a bunch of errors. The day after I found a slightly newer browser in MacWeb 2.0. After installing it, and pointing it to the same Vintage Mac World’s webpage, the result was definitely prettier:

MacWeb 2.0

This browser, like MacWWW, can’t handle secure connections and the like, but at least is capable of loading embedded images in HTML pages correctly. The overall responsiveness is remarkable, considering the age of the hardware and the software involved.

I’m so happy that I’ve finally managed to bring the Colour Classic online. Not that I’m planning to browsing the Web much on this machine, but now that I know that it can access the Internet, I’m ready to move on to the next step, which involves configuring an email client and an email account, and even an FTP client (I’m thinking an old version of Fetch), so that I can exchange files with the Colour Classic via my own server if need be.

Added to the collection: quite the vintage package

My recent post A few About boxes from vintage Mac applications received a lot of attention, mainly because it was first linked by John Gruber at Daring Fireball, and was then mentioned by The Loop and by The Unofficial Apple Weblog among others.

It was completely unexpected, and amazing. The feedback I received — both in the form of public comments, mentions on Twitter, and especially private emails — made me giddy, and I wanted to thank every person who wrote me (I’m still answering emails after more than two weeks from the blog post).

Another unexpected by equally thrilling side-effect of this brief moment of Internet fame was that a few people, out of the blue, got in touch to donate a few things they saw I was looking for in my vintage wishlist. One particularly generous donor and splendid fellow has been Richard, who sent me a Christmas-worthy package, which arrived this morning. So, for the mere cost of shipping, this is what I’m going to add to my collection — which in my case means, here’s what I’ll be putting to good use as soon as possible:

PowerBook Duo 280c and DuoDock II

PowerBook Duo 280c, DuoDock II, plus a spare battery for the Duo.

As with the rest of the contents of the package, I was blown away by the excellent condition of these items. And most of all I am happy to already have a replacement for my poor Duo 280c which quietly broke down just less than two months ago. And it’s a better replacement, too. It has 40 MB of RAM and a 1 GB hard drive (my old Duo had 24 MB of RAM and a 320 MB hard drive). Unfortunately, the DuoDock II’s power supply doesn’t work, but a replacement may come sooner than later. I also found a spare battery, but it appears it doesn’t hold a charge. Instead the one in the picture, that came inside the Duo, appears to be working. I may have to reset the PowerBook’s power manager, though, because — just like my old Duo started doing at some point — the Mac boots up and works correctly on the AC adapter and with the battery removed, but as soon as I insert the battery, it abruptly shuts down.

Iomega SCSI ZIP 100 drive

Iomega ZIP 100 drive (SCSI version).

Again, I was amazed at finding everything in like-new condition. I love vintage packaging as much as the products, so it’s great to have everything in its original box. The SCSI cable included is also great to have, as I have more vintage Macs and peripherals than working SCSI cables. That floppy you see above the drive is to install the Iomega drivers on Windows/DOS machines. It’s still sealed, of course. I tested the drive by connecting it to my Colour Classic. At first the drive was only detected by SCSI Probe, but I couldn’t mount any disk without the Iomega Driver extension. I connected my PowerBook 1400 and copied the one I loaded there, but it was too new for the Colour Classic (version 6.x). Luckily there was also an older Iomega Driver 4.2 extension, and that was the right one. After a restart, disks were recognised, mounted, formatted without issues. I also noticed how quiet the SCSI ZIP drive is compared to my (more recent) USB unit.

And speaking of disks…

Lots of disks

ZIP 100 disks, three SCSI terminators, an Ethernet card (Apple branded), Apple rainbow stickers, two 88 MB SyQuest cartridges and a 230 MB 3.5″ magneto-optical disk.

Yes, those are thirty-three ZIP 100 disks. I guess that, together with the dozen or so I already have, I won’t be needing more ZIP disks anytime soon! That’s about 3 GB of storage space, and I can practically back up the contents of all the working vintage Macs I have. I also love those Iomega 6-disk holders — very practical and stackable.

I still have to check, but I hope I’ll be able to install that Ethernet card on the second motherboard (from an LC580) I use when I need to speed up things with the Colour Classic. Tomorrow I’ll also check those two nice 88 MB SyQuest cartridges.

Logitech ScanMan Model32
Logitech ScanMan hand-held grayscale scanner Model 32 for Mac.

This has been another great surprise. I remember wanting this manual scanner so bad back in the day, but could not afford it. Now, I know that scanner technology has rendered this product obsolete, but it may be a nice solution to quickly scan a few documents while I have my Macintosh SE or SE/30 set up. When I opened the box, I was surprised by that unit looking like an external floppy drive, and I thought that Richard had actually put one in the box, taking advantage of the perfect size of the cut-out. It turns out that it’s the necessary interface for the scanner, i.e. you connect the beige box to the Mac, and the hand-held scanner to the box. Also worth noting, that Mathematica demo floppy!

Like with the ZIP 100 drive, I love to own the original packaging of the Logitech ScanMan. So I took another photo of the back of the box, which I think it’s worth sharing:

ScanMan box


I can’t thank Richard enough for his kindness and generosity — a true gentleman. I shall put all these items to good use and take care of them in the best possible way: it’s the right thing to do to honour donations such as this.

Not that everything was great with Palm devices, either

Netwon and WorkPad

Commenting on the final part of this article by Landon Dyer, where Dyer talks about the reasons the Newton failed compared to the Palm Pilot, Thomas Brand writes:

One of the miracles of the Palm Pilot was the reliability and ease of use of the out-of-box HotSync. The Newton came with a lot of features advertised on its box, faxing, beaming, emailing, and placing phone calls, but often those tasks were obstructed by the purchase of additional hardware and the required complication of the day.

I won’t discuss the reasons Dyer enumerates; he was a Newton developer, so his insights have certainly more value than mine. I’m just a Newton enthusiast who discovered the Newton ‘posthumously’ in 2001 and I’m still using it daily. I’m not finding particularly difficult doing stuff with my MessagePad 2100, my Original MessagePad and my eMate 300, but that’s probably because I’m using a few tools developed after the Newton was discontinued.

What I wanted to say is that — from the admittedly limited experience I’ve had with a Palm Pilot device of the same vintage — I just don’t understand how Palm users back then could put up with one drawback that strikes me (Newton user) as huge: non-persistent memory.

A few years ago I was kindly donated an IBM WorkPad 30X (which is a rebadged Palm IIIx). As you can see above and in this Flickr album I created back then, its size compared to a Newton MessagePad 2000 makes it a clear winner in portability. When I received this gift, being unfamiliar with Palm PDAs, I did some research and started looking for apps and software to make the most of the little guy. Along with the WorkPad I was also given a cradle to connect/sync with a Windows PC, so I installed HotSync and the Palm Desktop software on an old Toshiba Satellite I use when I need to connect legacy devices. I put some fresh AAA batteries in the WorkPad and started fiddling around with it for a while. I admit I liked (and still like) the WorkPad’s form factor and its well-balanced stylus.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a regular Newton user since 2001 and I’m accustomed to how the Newton handles handwriting recognition, but learning Palm’s Graffiti system was hard. It felt awfully slow and frustrating while writing, and I never got better or faster at it. A few weeks without using the WorkPad were enough to have to re-learn Graffiti, or at least to re-acquire the speed I had gained before with some training.

But imagine my surprise when one afternoon, while I was out, the batteries in the WorkPad died, and after purchasing new ones on the fly, I found out that all the new applications I had installed and all the notes I had entered were gone. I naïvely thought that the WorkPad would behave like my Newtons and store such information safely in the event of battery failure. Now, not all was lost. I soon discovered that it was enough to connect the WorkPad to the computer and launch a HotSync session. The software correctly restored everything as it was — at the time of the last sync, of course. So not exactly everything.

This however means that if you brought the WorkPad / Palm IIIx with you on a trip (or other Palm devices characterised by the same non-persistent memory feature), you should either make sure you put powerful, long-lasting batteries in it, or bring the computer along to constantly keep things in sync. This strikes me as a bit impractical, and when that first incident happened, I was surprised at how the WorkPad and similar Palm devices were/are so dependent on a frequent, constant connection with the computer. Thankfully the Palm Desktop software is indeed very good and reliable (even the Windows version I’m using). Newtons may have less efficient sync procedures, or it may be more cumbersome to extract information from a Newton device, but I find Newtons to be more reliable and more self-sufficient PDAs. I can see the appeal a smaller, cheaper device may have had back then, but — though I’m certainly biased here — I’m not sure I understand how Palm users put up with devices so prone to potential data loss (unless duly babysat), and so dependent on syncing software and a computer. I guess Palm had a different approach to what ‘personal digital assistant’ meant, and its devices were to be considered just handy portable instruments to store information in a more transient way. Newtons have always felt more like ‘portable computers’ to me.

A few About boxes from vintage Mac applications

(Updated January 18 and January 20 with more About boxes)

These past three weeks or so, as you know, I’ve been doing a thorough check-up of my vintage Macs. Now that my Macintosh SE/30 has a working hard drive, I wanted to search my archives for some useful applications and utilities to put on it. My usual approach for my vintage Macs is to equip them with a base set of application software like this:

  • At least a word processor (either WriteNow or Word 5.1, mostly depending on the Mac’s age) and a text editor, such as BBEdit.
  • At least one application to do some image editing. Usually it’s an old version of Graphic Converter.
  • Often I install some old version of ClarisWorks and HyperCard, mostly because I still need to access old projects and stacks.
  • Diagnostic utilities: Norton Utilities, TechTool Pro.
  • Disk utilities such as FWB Hard Disk Toolkit.
  • ResEdit. Always useful.
  • The StuffIt suite of products, to handle compressed archives.
  • SCSI Probe, which is a great, lightweight control panel capable of scanning/resetting the SCSI chain and mount SCSI peripherals that don’t mount on the Desktop automatically for some reason.
  • Some vintage games, why not.

So the other day I was going through some old CD-ROMs and backups, and found an unmarked CD-ROM I had absolutely no idea as to its contents. Even after inserting it in the PowerBook 1400’s optical drive, and double-clicking on its icon, what was displayed was completely unassuming: a .sit archive called Mac OS 7.5.3 and a disk image simply called disk1.dsk. At first I dismissed this and just thought it was a backup of the installation disk(s) for System 7.5.3. When I finally mounted that disk image with DiskCopy, though, I found a little gold mine of vintage applications and games.

I started going through them one by one (the applications, at least; the games are more than 200!), and invoking their About boxes to find out exactly which version they were. I found some very old versions of popular applications and — equally interesting — there were also not-so-old versions of popular applications but in French and even German. I thought this exploration was worth capturing, so I took a few screenshots. Here’s a selection of the most interesting findings. Enjoy.

Aldus Pagemaker 2
Aldus PageMaker, version 2.0a

Adobe Illustrator 1
Adobe Illustrator 1.1 — The application only weighed 240KB.

Adobe Photoshop 1
Adobe Photoshop 1.0.7 — This screenshot was taken on my PowerBook 1400 running Mac OS 8.1, as you can see by the Platinum theme of the buttons. Just to give you an idea, on the Mac SE/30 this About box takes up almost the entire screen.

Claris Organizer 1F
Claris Organizer 1.0 in French.

Claris Draw 1F
ClarisDraw 1.0Fv1. The ‘F’ stands for ‘French’ of course.

ClarisWorks 10Fv3
ClarisWorks 1.0Fv3. Again, this is the French version.

ClarisWorks 3D
ClarisWorks 3.0Dv1. Here the ‘D’ stands for ‘Deutsch’: this is the German version of ClarisWorks 3.0.

Claris HyperCard Player 2
Claris HyperCard Player version 2.1 — Not really a rare version, but I love the clipart!

Image Studio 06
Image Studio, distributed by Letraset, version 0.6! — When I launched this software on my PowerBook 1400, it warned me that it only supports 256 levels of grey.

Claris MacDraw Pro 1F
Claris MacDraw Pro 1.0Fv1. Again, in French.

MS Basic 200
Microsoft Basic, version 2.00. This one is pretty old.

Norton Utils 2F
This is a screenshot of version 2.0 of “Les Norton Utilities pour le Macintosh.”

Ragtime 32F
RagTime 3.2, French version.

Resedit 08
This is probably the most amazing find: a pre-release version 0.8 of the popular ResEdit utility.

Superpaint 20aF
SuperPaint 2.0a – French version. — The text in the black box animates and starts showing authors and credits.

WordPerfect Works 1
WordPerfect Works 1.2 — This is a software suite not unlike the more popular ClarisWorks. Though I own old copies of WordPerfect the word processor, I admit I didn’t remember there had also been an entire software suite.

WordPerfect Works BN
WordPerfect Works apparently has two About boxes. This one shows up after dismissing the previous one.

WriteNow 3F
WriteNow 3.0 in French.

MacDraw 17
MacDraw 1.7

PowerPoint 1
PowerPoint 1.0! — Originally it was called ‘Presenter’, then the name was changed to PowerPoint, and in 1987 Forethought was bought by Microsoft for several million dollars.

Excel 22aF
And this is Microsoft Excel 2.2a — in French.

StuffIt 1
StuffIt 1.0. If you’re a long-time Mac user, you surely have StuffIt Deluxe (or maybe just the Expander) on your Macs.

Think C 5
Think C version 5.00


I’m still digging through the archives, so perhaps there will be a follow-up to this post. Stay tuned.

Update: more About boxes

I’ve managed to unearth some other interesting vintage Mac applications and their About boxes. Some of them were extracted from the application resources thanks to ResEdit, since I wasn’t able to open them either on the PowerBook 1400 or the PowerBook 5300 — they threw various errors and/or forced me to restart the Mac.

Anyway, here we go with a second batch of About boxes!

Future Basic
FutureBasic 1.01

MacProject II
Claris MacProject II, version 2.1Fv2 (French)

MacPascal 73
MacPascal 7.300 — Note the date: one day before the official introduction of the Macintosh.

Eudora Light 3F
Eudora Light, version 3.11 in French

Photoshop (opt)
This is what you get when you invoke the About box in Photoshop 1.0 while holding the Option key.

MS Word 301F
Microsoft Word 3.01e (French version)

MS Word 301F2
Microsoft Word 3.01e (French version): this dialog box shows up when you first launch Word.

Wintype 17F
Wintype 1.7 (French) — I don’t know much about the history of this software. It’s an application for learning to type.

Ragtime32 opt
RagTime 3.2 (French version) — This is what you get when you invoke the About box while holding the Option key: the developers’ signatures.

Resedit08 2
This is another About box in ResEdit 0.8.

Macintosh Basics 503
Macintosh Basics, version 5.0.3. Not an About box, strictly speaking, but I thought it was cool to add this to the mix.

Eudora 131
Eudora 1.3.1, “Bringing the P.O. to where you live.”

MacDraw 094
MacDraw 0.9.4

MacPaint 1
MacPaint 1.0

Superpaint 1
SuperPaint 1.0

Snapz 1
Ambrosia Software’s Snapz 1.0.0, just one of the many fine Mac applications they’ve created over the years.

MacWWW 103
Samba, a.k.a. MacWWW, version 1.0.3

Printshop 13
The Print Shop 1.3 — When you invoke the About box, the icon on the top left keeps animating.

Zterm 101
ZTerm 1.0.1

ClarisCad 20IT
Claris CAD 2.0 (Italian version)

Impressit 112
ImpressIt 1.1.2

JAG 1.0 — Jaggies are gone!

Lotus123 1IT
Lotus 1-2-3 for the Macintosh, version 1.00 (Italian)

MS Works 2
Microsoft Works 2.0

Omnipage 21
Caere OmniPage 2.1

Letrastudio 20
LetraStudio 2.0

Premiere 1
Adobe Premiere 1.0 — Look who wrote it…

Streamline 2
Adobe Streamline 2.0

Dimensions 1
Dimensions 1bw
Adobe Dimensions 1.0, in colour and black & white.

Dimensions presenter 009
Dimensions Presenter, version 0.09a.

More 31
More 3.1 — This is for Dave Winer… I found it, Dave!

Fontmonger 105
FontMonger 1.0.5

Fontographer 35
Fontographer 3.5

Satellite3d 153
Satellite 3D, version 1.5.3.

Soundedit 205 1
Soundedit 205 2
SoundEdit 2.0.5. — The About box for SoundEdit is a really nice animation. It starts with a random colour pattern, simulating a crash, then the first picture above appears, making you think that the application crashed the system. But then, the bomb turns red and explodes, revealing the full About box in the picture below. I grabbed a screen recording (sorry for the quality).

Soundeditpro 1
And here’s SoundEdit Pro 1.0.

TypeStyler 2.0.1 — I used to have a lot of fun with this application. Now it’s at version 11.3.5!

Softpcwin 30 1
SoftPC with Windows 3.0 — This is the first Windows emulator I encountered back then.

Softpcwin 30 2
…And here’s a screenshot of Windows 3.1 emulated inside SoftPC.

Diamond 46
Diamond 4.6, a rather obscure (to me) file compression software I found on the hard drive of my Macintosh LC II.

Norton Utilities 1 1 intro
I knew I had an even older version of the Norton Utilities: this is the start screen of The Norton Utilities 1.1…

Norton Disk Doctor
…and this is Norton Disk Doctor in action.

ShowSizes II by Jon Pugh — Another animated About box. (Thanks to Jon Pugh for sending me these screenshots.)

MacPaint II Secret About Box
MacPaint 2.0 secret About box, invoked by choosing the About menu while holding the space and tab keys. (Thanks to Jon Pugh for sending me the screenshot and for the information.)

ClarisWorks 21E
ClarisWorks version 2.1Ev3. — This is the Spanish version of ClarisWorks.

FilemakerPro 21E
Claris FileMaker Pro 2.1 — Spanish version.

Freehand 7E
Macromedia Freehand 7.0.1, Spanish version. The names of the developers keep scrolling near the application icon on the top left (exactly where the figure is pointing.)

Pixelpaint 1
Pixel Paint 1.1 — This application refused to launch on any of my vintage Macs. Perhaps it really wants a Macintosh II and only a Macintosh II…

Pixelpaint 2
Pixel Paint 2.0.

Soundjam MP Plus 25
Before iTunes there was SoundJam, by Casady&Greene. This is SoundJam MP Plus, version 2.5.3. It’s another animated About box — the credits keep rolling, movie-style. I captured them at the beginning, as to show the main developers.


Okay, that’s all for now. In the next days I’ll continue the journey in my software archives and see if I manage to dig up even more of these About boxes. This little gallery doesn’t want to be exhaustive — it’s more like opening a drawer full of things I used a lot back then and reminiscing. And by the way, I still use some of these programs on my vintage Macs, so it’s not just nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. Finally, it’s also a way to celebrate all those developers who shaped a fantastic era of Mac software.

Thank you everyone for the feedback!