The PowerPC G3 CPU is ideal to run software from the final years of the Classic Mac OS era. Its design is optimized for the core assembly language routines of the Blue Box (aka System 7, Mac OS 8 and 9) and it spans a wide variety of Old World (beige) and New World (colored) Macs. Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the most used machines in the Vintage Mac Museum is a PowerBook G3.
VMM Workhorse – PowerBook G3 Wallstreet, Mac OS 9.2.2
The PowerPC based PowerBook really hit its stride with the G3-based Wallstreet. Sporting a striking jet-black Batman’esque case, 14″ active matrix screen, 2 PC card slots and dual expansion bays with lots of options (CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Floppy, Zip, SuperDisk and later CD-RW drives), the Wallstreet – Apple’s internal project name – was built like a tank and is a pleasure to use. SCSI, ADB and Serial Ports gives this laptop full compatibility with a wide range of peripherals and data storage formats.
The VMM Wallstreet is running Mac OS 9 and has a Floppy drive and Zip drive installed in its expansion bays. The (original) SuperDrive can read 1.44MB High Density (HD) and 800k Double Density (DD) floppy disks, which are the most common formats received for old file transfers. Any troublesome 800k disks or 400k disks are shuffled over to the Mac Plus, which shares the same desk.
Because it has a SCSI port I can also read data from both external and internal SCSI hard drives, the latter by using parts from an external drive case as an adapter or “sled” for the internal disk. Ethernet capability allows me to access the AppleShare volume on my PowerMac G4 Cube – the central server for the VMM – to copy completed conversions or grab older data from the Quadra 840av.
The Wallstreet does the bulk of the file format conversion work. The workhorse for these efforts is MacLink Plus, a batch conversion utility which used to be bundled free with all Macs. Most old files are either word processing data or spreadsheets, and MacLink Plus can read a great variety of these formats and convert them to modern MS Word .doc or MS Excel .xls files. For older word processing formats, MS Word 5.1a serves as intermediate software to Save As… to the Word 5 format. Also installed are copies of MacDraw II, FileMaker 4, Photoshop 5.5, etc..
I love using the Wallstreet, it’s a solid machine that holds up well over time. The keyboard is nicer than the one in Lombard and Pismo models which followed, and it’s really quite zippy running Mac OS 9.2.2. The hard drive is only 4GB and is getting rather noisy, when prices for the new Solid State Drives (SSDs) come down a bit I plan to pop one of these puppies inside. That should give a big boost in storage and really make this old girl fly!