The Enduring Appeal of Macintosh Picasso Artwork


The famous Macintosh Picasso logo was developed for the introduction of the original 128k Mac back in 1984. A minimalist line drawing in the style of Pablo Picasso, this whimsical graphic implied the whole of a computer in a few simple strokes. It was an icon of what was inside the box, and became as famous as the computer it represented.

The logo was designed by Tom Hughes and John Casado, art directors on the Mac development team. Originally the logo was to be a different concept called The Macintosh Spirit by artist Jean-Michel Folon, but before the release Steve Jobs changed his mind and had it replaced by the simple and colorful drawing by Hughes and Casado. It’s been beloved ever since, and the graphic style has endured across decades.


Forgotten QuickTime Demo Videos

Recently I helped a client locate some old QuickTime CD-ROMs from the early 1990s. Back in these days CDs were still fairly new, and people didn’t waste precious storage space on the shiny platters; it was not uncommon to find lots of bonus and filler material on discs of the day. We managed to find three discs, the QuickTime 1.0 and 1.5 releases, along with a copy of the QuickTime 1.0 Beta CD.

My client was primarily interested in the software while I found a search through the bundled materials the most rewarding. I quickly unearthed a few goodies that probably haven’t seen the light of day in over twenty years – which may or may not be a good thing.

The first video, DogCow, was included on the QuickTime 1.0 Beta release CD-ROM. This is a bizarre clip clearly targeted to Apple insiders. Moof, the beloved Apple DogCow from the print dialog boxes, underwent some changes between Systems 6 and 7. The QuickTime team apparently had strong feelings about the event. Either that or they ate too many magic mushrooms…

The second clip is a QuickTime 1.0 Tour, presented by a member of the development team. This tongue-in-cheek video was included on the QuickTime 1.0 CD. Originally a whopping 152 x 116 in size, this was referred to as “postage stamp video” back in 1991. How far we’ve come. Gotta love the portable QuickTime playback container for the DEC PDP 11!

Finally, Klone Killers is short clip also on the QuickTime 1.0 CD. Apple was considering licensing the Mac OS to clone manufacturers by this time, and the QuickTime team had a rather Space Invaders take on the notion. Apparently Steve Jobs felt the same way.

I love finding this stuff!

Formatting Old Mac SCSI Drives

Anyone who’s been using Macs since the days when SCSI was the primary expansion bus knows that this technology was not something often described as plug-and-play. SCSI did work, but not without challenges. I was reminded of some of these working on a file transfer job this weekend.

Mac SCSI Hard DriveA client sent me a working Macintosh Classic II running System 7.0.1, with several old projects on the internal hard drive. They wanted to get this data transferred and converted to something modern. Since it was bootable and had an external SCSI port, I decided to hookup an external drive to copy the data rather than open the case and pull out the boot disk, or wait for things to sputter along using LocalTalk.

I pulled an 80MB drive from my stack of spares, hooked it up to a SCSI sled (a coverless external case), and connected this to my PowerBook Wallstreet to format the disk. 68k Macs require disks to be formatted in the Mac OS Standard (HFS) filesystem, not the newer Mac OS Extended (HFS+) flavor. The Wallstreet runs Mac OS 9.2.2, and the included disk utility is called Drive Setup. I mounted the old (noisy) transfer drive, selected Mac OS Standard format, and quickly partitioned the disk.

I then spent the next two hours trying to get this hard drive mounted by the Classic. And reminded myself why I like FireWire drives so much better.

SCSI chains require each device on the bus to have a different ID number, and both ends of the chain need to be terminated. On older Macs the internal hard drive was set to SCSI ID 0 and terminated at the motherboard; the system itself used SCSI ID 7. Any external devices need to use ID 1-6, with a terminator. I configured my drive as ID 2, added a passive external terminator, and booted up the Mac.

A loud whining sound immediately started emanating from the machine. If I moved the external SCSI cable even slightly the whine changed pitch. Hmmm, that sounded like a motherboard component about to fail. The Mac booted but the drive didn’t appear on the desktop, so I used a floppy disk to load the SCSIProbe control panel and scanned the bus. No external disk found. But the whine continued.

SCSIProbeI shut down and swapped the SCSI cable out for another. After a few minutes the whine went away. Such are the risks of old hardware. Still no go on mounting the external drive though, and now SCSIProbe was complaining about a lack of termination on the bus.

These classic Macs with their slow SCSI speeds didn’t typically require active termination, but it was the next thing to try. Dug one out of a drawer, and bingo that solved problem number two.

The drive still didn’t mount on the desktop, but SCSIProbe did now see it on the bus – progress. I clicked the Mount button and got an error message that drives larger than 4GB are not supported on 68k Macs. 4GB? This drive is only 80MB. What gives?

I grabbed another 160MB drive from my shelf, connected this to the Classic, and it mounted fine – yay! But this one contained some data I needed to backup first, so I again powered down, hooked the drive up to my Wallstreet, and copied what I needed. When finished I reformatted the disk for good measure, again using Mac OS Standard.

Back on the Classic, I got the same error: can’t read drives larger than 4GB. Huh? It just read that drive. All I did was connect it to the Wallstreet, copy, and… reformat.

Using the Drive Setup utility included with Mac OS 9.2.2.

Another distant memory surfaced: back in the System 7 days (and earlier), Apple used a different utility for formatting disks called Apple HD SC Setup. The name goes back to the very first Mac external hard drive, and the interface is minimal at best, but version 7.3.5 still ran under OS 9. It was worth a try. Launch, click Initialize, wait 15 minutes, and presto: one freshly formatted prehistoric Mac OS hard drive.

I held my breath booting up the Classic again. It chimed, smiled its happy Mac face at me, then quickly and transparently mounted the external drive on the desktop. Finally! Two hours after I started the process – LocalTalk would probably have been done in half the time. But as they say, it was a (Re)Learning Experience.

SCSI Voodoo. Yep. And you thought USB is a headache…

Say Hello Again! Welcome to Mac Museum 2.0

The Vintage Mac Museum is a private, working collection of the pre-Intel Apple Macintosh: 68k and PowerPC Macinti, old Mac software, period advertising and memorabilia. The VMM website has just undergone an extensive revision and expansion, designed to create both a virtual museum and a compilation of resources to help find information about old Mac hardware and software. The revised site has been organized around three major themes – Collection, Services and Resources.

Vintage Mac MuseumThe biggest visual change is a beautiful new graphic design and back-end conversion to WordPress. Using a content management system allows for easy updating, correct formatting on mobile phones, and the merging of the main website with the Vintage Mac Museum Blog. The blog was formerly hosted on Blogspot, and all previous posts and comments have been migrated to the new site.

With this change we’ve embraced the classic Macintosh style graphics with a brand new VMM Logo, envisioning the Mac Finder icon done in the timeless Picasso style. It’s simple, vintage, and very Macintosh! My little contribution to the rich graphical world of Apple…

The Collection pages (68k Macintosh, PowerPC Beige, PowerPC G-Series, PowerBook) carry over from the previous site and describe the Museum’s possessions in a chronological story-of-Macintosh style. The Services section focuses on commercial areas of specialty for the Museum: vintage Mac file transfers & conversions, along with patent-related legal research finding prior art for technology related litigation. The Resources section is designed to be a growing reference for information about vintage Macs, as befits a Museum dedicated to the topic. Many links to Macintosh information, history and software downloads are available now, with more to come.

To enchance the Virtual Museum experience, pictures of the collection’s equipment and memorabilia have been interspersed throughout the site, with high resolution photos now available via popup links. Video links to classic Mac and Apple advertisements, formerly on a separate VMM TV YouTube page, now also play via in-site popups.

The 2013 site expansion, logo design and WordPress conversion was done in collaboration with Chelsea O’Brien at Tech Diva Media. I highly recommend the talents of Chelsea and her team for your web design, SEO and internet marketing needs!

Check it out, look around, and Say Hello Again!

More Macs Than I Know What To Do With

Mac+Case+Bag+Holder-SMBetween donations and purchases for the Vintage Mac Museum, I wind up with a fair amount of spare parts. I try to keep things in the rooms already dedicated for my Museum or up in the attic, but overage tends to spill out around the house.

Recently I picked up a Mac Plus off craigslist to use as a parts machine. The owner had done several upgrades on the system over the years, and the rear case had some holes and taped over cracks on the inside. I was intending to just toss this piece out with the trash, but it spent a few weeks in the kitchen while I waited for February snowdrifts to melt outside.

Soon it acquired a new use, as a place to store plastic bags waiting for a trip to recycling. Not really a planned use, and not the kind of thing that most people have in their kitchens, but the rear case actually makes a good little trashcan. That’s kind of sad given its original purpose, but hey, this in itself is a form of recycling! :)

Or it proves that I have more Macs around than I know what to do with…

Solving Mac File Amnesia with Type & Creator Codes

I recently received a request for help from a research group who had an old Macintosh file they couldn’t open. The file was created in the late 1980s in a statistical research program, but they couldn’t extract the contents no matter what they tried. The data was not stored in text format, and the file had developed a case of amnesia: it didn’t know what it was, and no software could recognize it.

Old Mac files contain two embedded strings, called Type and Creator codes, which tell the Mac OS what kind of file it is and which program was used to create it. An equivalent kind of file type identification is used in most operating systems (including Mac OS X) in the form of a three character extension after the filename, e.g., filename.txt. This embedded data was missing on my client’s file, which is not uncommon when files have been copied across multiple disks and platforms over many years.

My client thought the file was originally created in a program called StatView. I found an archived copy of the software online at the Macintosh Garden (a great resource for Mac Abandonware), and tried to open the file. No go. I also tried some other statistics programs I have around for good measure, but nothing worked.

Next I launched Statview again and created a couple of test files, in both the “StatView4.1” and “old StatView” formats. This creates samples which contain the correct type/creator codes. Using File Buddy – another venerable old utility – I applied these codes to copies of the original file, then tried to open the copies. The file tagged as “old StatView” did the trick and opened no problem. Sweet. From there it was easy to export the data in text format (TSV), then import into Excel for use with modern computers.

For a situation like this it helps to have some guess as to the original software used. Creating sample files in various formats is a helpful way to apply educated guesses about missing type/creator codes to other amnesiac files – assuming you can find a copy of the software in the first place.

My client was thrilled to hear the news, they’d been working on this file for some time and had already gone down several dead ends. I asked what the data was for, and was told the following:

The data is from a European researcher. I am conducting what is called a “systematic review” which involves looking at every piece of data in a given area, in this case, vegetarian diets and weight loss. If I do not incorporate all the data (even those kept in old software in a foreign language) then my findings would not be considered complete.

You’ve saved science!

Nice. It’s not every day one gets to save science. Vintage Macs to the rescue!