May 062010

My thifty ebay Mac SE purchased arrived recently and I finally found time to unpack it and power it up. I knew from the original auction description that it had an issue of booting to a flashing question mark. I figured that in the best case scenario I’d just have to reinstall the System software on it.

I wasn’t that lucky, unfortunately. When I power it on it sounds like the internal HD is stuck in a constant effort to read the drive and not finding any success. I will post a sound file so you can hear it. After reading the troubleshooting information at Chris Adams’ SE Support pages it fits the description of  drive “stiction” – a term I remember knowing many years ago.

The good news, however, is that the floppy drive works fine and I was able to boot the machine from an old 800k Norton Utilities Emergency Disk and from an older Apple Disk Tools floppy. Neither HDSC Setup, Disk First Aid, or Norton Disk Doctor were able to see or mount the internal HD, although the drive activity indicator on the front of the SE flashes.

So it looks like step 1 will be to replace the internal SCSI hard drive. Step 2 is going to be upgrading the RAM. I have not yet confirmed, but suspect that the RAM is only 1 MB since when I tried to boot from a System 7.5 Disk Tools floppy I got a dialog box that simply said “System 7.5 needs more memory” with no other option but to shut down.

I consulted the Adding RAM section of Chris’ SE Support site and after skimming the instructions discovered that it’s not just a matter of replacing four 256MB SIMMs with four 1 MB modules in the RAM slots. You also have to clip a resistor so that computer knows about the change in memory configuration.  That should make things more interesting!

May 032010
Mac SE SuperDrive

Mac SE SuperDrive

My very first Macintosh was a Mac SE, purchased in December of 1988 from the University of Texas Student Computer Store. Even with my student discount I had to take out a loan from the University Federal Credit Union to pay for it. My SE came with two internal 800K floppy drives, no internal hard disk and one MB of RAM (later upgraded to 4 MB). My accessories included a Jasmine 20 MB external hard disk, an ImageWriter II printer, and a Practical Peripherals 2400 baud modem.

Recently I purchased a Mac SE to add to the ClassicMacs collection. This one is slightly newer, since it has a SuperDrive (a floppy drive that will read/write high density floppy disks and an internal hard disk).

When I reviewed the price list for the SE models available when I bought mine I quickly remembered why I bought the one with two 800k drives – the one with an internal 20 MB hard disk was priced $800 higher!

As I recall the external Jasmine 20 MB drive was $400, so I saved $400 by going that route. My Mac came with an early version of System 6 and would have to wait until May, 1991 before System 7 was released.

I’ll keep you updated on the addition of the Mac SE to the collection. I think it will be a System 6 machine to remind me of how I started out.

Helpful Mac SE Pages