Jaz Fights Back (and why I love the 9600)

So a few weeks ago I wrote about my experience assembling the World’s Ugliest Jaz Drive, a 3.5″ internal Jaz mechanism in an external SCSI enclosure. After criticizing the aesthetics of the beast, the end of my post fatefully noted that “hopefully it will even work when I need it.”

jaz1-smWell wouldn’t you know, I didn’t need to wait long to find out. A new client contacted me to ask if I could do some file conversions from SyQuest and Jaz cartridges. Sure I said, send ’em along. Being prudent, I decided to find some Jaz cartridges to test my contraption prior to Game Day. Fortunately a local colleague had a few cartridges around and some extra drives (with power adapters), and graciously gave me a couple of each.

So of course – the World’s Ugliest Jaz Drive does not work. It shows up as a valid SCSI device in SCSIProbe, spins up the cartridge, but that’s it. No desktop mounting, even when rebooting with a cartridge inserted. Zip disks work fine – I have a Zip drive in the same machine, and the Iomega extension is installed. Feh. That’s what I get for insulting the Jaz Gods publicly.

Luckily I now have 3 other Jaz drives around, standard green Iomega external SCSI variety. Two original 1GB units, and one 2GB mechanism. These are SCSI-2 drives with a smaller, denser connector, so I need a machine to connect them to. Fortunately one of my favorite Macs comes to the rescue and (now) back into active service: The PowerMac 9600.

PowerMac9600The VMM 9600 is running Mac OS 9.1 with a NewerTech 400MHz G3 card. Installed are the standard floppy, CD-ROM and Zip drives, along with an Exabyte 8205-XL tape drive and a PCI FireWire card. I shuffled through my bin of old Mac SCSI cards and found an Adaptec 2903B PCI card with the right connector. Pop the card into a free PCI slot (there are six total), load the Adaptec extension, reboot, and voila, I now have 3 SCSI buses in my 9600. A thing of beauty.

I plug in and test all 3 Jaz drives, all work fine. Nice to have one of the less-popular 2GB drives also, may be needed someday. Add another format to the list the 9600 can handle. I plan to install a PCI-USB card in another slot later to round out the feature set!

I love the PowerMac 9600. In my opinion it’s The Best of the Beige Era, and remains a workhorse to this day. Six PCI slots, 5 drive bays, a 500W power supply – my Mac Pro has nothing on this puppy! (Well, except for 10 years of development and gobs more processing power…) I appologize to the Jaz Gods for the public insult, I guess I’ve learned my lesson. :)

Also a hearty thanks to Terry Lockhart at Finish Editorial in Boston for the Jaz drives and his ongoing support of the Vintage Mac Museum.

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