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Classic Mac: On the Internet with a Mac Plus

13 December 2013 607 views 2 Comments

In 1986, before the modern internet, the 512K Mac Plus was cutting edge. See this classic Mac operating on today's web…

These days 512K isn’t a decent jpeg let alone enough RAM to open said same image. However, back in 1986, the 512K Mac Plus was cutting edge and the ring on which Jeff Keacher cut his computing teeth on. Well, he dug this Classic Mac and set about getting it onto the modern internet.

It’s a lowly machine, my Mac. The specs pale in comparison to even my Kindle: 8MHz CPU, 4MB RAM, 50MB hard drive and 512 x 384 pixel black-and-white screen. My current desktop PC is on the order of 200,000 times faster – not even including the GPU. Still, that Mac Plus was where I cut my computing teeth as a child. It introduced me to C, hard drives, modems, and the internet… What it never did was run a TCP/IP stack of its own. It was always just a dumb terminal on the ‘net, never a full-fledged member.

Keacher, who’s handy with a soldering iron and knows his way around electronics, got his 512 Mac Plus online with the help of a Raspberry Pi single board computer plus a level shifter, null modem, DB-9 to DB-25 adapter and serial cable. Riding all of that was Apple’s System 7 and some old familiar software bits, like MacTCP, PPP and MacWeb, which got him online, reading Wikipedia (video below).

Yeah, it’s far from optimal, but wickedly cool nonetheless — there’s so much flexibility and compatibility built into both the machines of our not so distant past and the today’s internet.

Looking for another classic Mac meets the internet story? Check out our Performa 630CD surfs the web story from earlier this year.

How did you first get on the internet, a VAX terminal, classic Mac or something else?

Image: Wikipedia

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