Vintage Mac Museum Workhorse – Quadra 840av

The 68k Macintosh era spanned over a decade and four generations of Motorola processors. The first VMM Workhorse, the Mac Plus, used an 8MHz 68000 CPU as found in the original 128k Mac. At the other end of the spectrum is the Motorola 68040 CPU and the Macintosh Quadra line. These speedy machines (for their day) remain useful today as bridge machines between the very old and the less old among early Macinti.

VMM Workhorse – Quadra 840av, Mac OS 8.1

840avThe Quadra series of Macs replaced the 68020/030 based Mac II line and was named after the fourth-generation 68040 processor. The Quadra 840av was the ultimate 68k Macintosh: 40MHz processor, fastest NuBus architecture, 16 bit stereo sound with video input/output, and the ARTA multimedia chip (Apple Real Time Architecture – another fine technology doomed before its time). Outfitted in a sporty minitower case, this machine was faster for many tasks than the first generation PowerPC machines introduced a year later.

Quadras are equipped with both LocalTalk (RS-422 serial) and Ethernet ports. They also contain Floppy Drives (1.44MB SuperDrives) and internal/external SCSI ports. These technologies allow for the bridging of formats and generations. An external SCSI Zip Drive completes the package.

At the VMM an 840av runs Mac OS 8.1 and Apple’s free LocalTalk Bridge software, which links Ethernet and Localtalk networks. Personal Filesharing is enabled on the Quadra, which is compatible with the AppleShare in System 6.0.8 on the Mac Plus. Files copied from floppies on the Plus can be transferred (via PhoneNet) to the Quadra, and from there up the chain.

Mac OS 8 uses AppleShare IP, which is forward compatible with shared volumes from Macs running Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X (up through 10.4.11). The primary server for the Mac Museum is a G4 Cube running Tiger, and my Quadra can copy files to/from the Cube over Ethernet. How’s that for multi-generational file sharing?

Quadras are also capable of running most 32-bit 68k programs, so software used on the Mac II, SE and early Performas usually runs fine on the ‘040 processor. For help with file conversions the VMM 840av contains copies of Photoshop v4, Illustrator v5, Digital Performer v5, MS Excel v4, MS Word v5.1a (really, who needs more?) and Retrospect 4.

I’ve used a PowerBook 540c for the same tasks as the Quadra where space was more constrained (read: my last apartment). The PowerBook 190 and 500 lines are portable Quadras (‘040 based systems), so their capabilities are similar.


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