RetroMacCast

Where great old Macs live again!

It started out innocently enough.

I've gone from having zero old Macs to having two of Apple's least desirable Macs sitting beside me in my office. One is a clone and the other a (shudder) PowerBook 5300.

Last summer, a StarMax 4000 showed up at my office door. I had to take it. A 4000-series? That means a 604e! Yummmmmmm! Not only that, it turned out to be loaded. 96MB RAM, a 256KB L2 cache-on-a-stick, a video capture card, a 100Mbit Ethernet board, plus bonus PS/2 keyboard/mouse and VGA connectors to make life easier.

The Ethernet card and age make this an excellent "bridge Mac" as James and John call it: a machine that's new enough to interface with both modern and older systems.

I went about finding a keyboard for the thing since none of my PS/2 keyboards had Windows (Commmand) keys. "I've got one right here!" said a colleague in the next building. "And while you're at it, take this PowerBook, too."

I recognized the case: that's probably a 5300, I thought—one of Apple's worst and least-reliable efforts.

"No, no, no," I said, as I nodded my head and took the 5300 under my arm. I just couldn't resist.

I powered it up and a tidal wave of nostalgia washed over me. SheepShaver and Basilisk don't communicate just how awful the early budget PowerPC hardware was.

System 7.5.3: 68K emulation penalties abound.

 

The dual-scan passive matrix screen has a noisy flicker to it when dealing with certain colours and patterns.

The hard drive is laughably noisy and slow (4000RPM says the IBM specs), and the power connector feels like it could snap in two at any moment.

Great stuff.

I scrounged up a LocalTalk cable so I could shuffle files between my new bridge Mac and this horrid thing. With a little more scrounging, I found an HDI-30 cable and a SCSI CD-ROM drive: everything I needed to install System 7.6 (faster!) onto a replacement CompactFlash card. As I've mentioned with my TiBook, CF is horribly slow.. but it's actually the same speed as the drive that shipped with the 5300. Win. :P

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Comment by John on October 4, 2015 at 7:37am

Nice find! But, oh how I shudder at those passive matrix screens :)

Comment by Sean2300c on October 11, 2015 at 4:28pm

The 5300 series oddly grew on me. I picked up a 5300c and 190cs while I was going through a Duo phase (because they were contemporary with the 2300c and matched my 2300c/280c lineup).

There were a few reasons it grew on me: I found the PCMCIA card slot made transferring programs over much easier to the 5300 than the Duos. I used a 1GB CF card and a USB card reader from my modern Mac. I got the 16 bit Video/ethernet upgrade and a Wifi card to get it on the internet (it was fun to take it on my campus' wifi network and check my email with it). I upgraded it to the 5300ce's 800x600 display, which gave it more desktop space for running programs.

It is a bit of a slug compared to the PowerBook x400's but the cardslot sure makes it handy :)

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