May 292009

I have three computers on my desk (normally; my Mac mini is not hooked up right now for various reasons). One of these is an old Macintosh SE, which I use for copying double-density 3.5″ Apple II disks for some stuff I do on the side.

On that Mac SE, I have about 200 900K files that I needed to get copied over onto my iMac.

The Mac SE has no Ethernet jack, and even if it did, it cannot run a version of Mac OS that can do AppleShare over IP.  Similarly, none of the Macs I use can run versions of Mac OS X that support classic AppleShare.

So my mission was to figure out a way to get some 170 MB or so of files copied from the Mac SE to the iMac when they can’t be networked together.

Sneakernet, while technically an option, would be dreadfully tedious with so many files to move.

So after contemplating it for a while, I remembered that we have an old PowerBook 190 in the closet.

So I pulled that out, plugged it in, hit the power button… and heard the first half of the startup chime before it shut itself off.  That repeated a couple of times.

So I whipped out my Swiss Army Knife (which has a Torx T-8 bit on it, wonder of wonders!) and dismantled the PowerBook to look inside.

It was at this point that I remembered that the video/ethernet card we installed into it years ago never worked right, so I pulled it out, reassembled the computer (with a brief bit of panic as I accidentally yanked the keyboard cable loose from its connector, but managed to reconnect it), and fired it up.  It booted right into Finder, no problem.

It was at that moment that I realized that having removed the Ethernet card, I was back to “how do I get the files from the Mac SE to the iMac” again.

After thinking for a few minutes, I realized that the files on the Mac SE are on its external hard drive, and the PowerBook has a SCSI port. So I powered down the SE, put its drive onto the PowerBook, and started the PowerBook back up. Sure enough, I was able to copy the files onto the PowerBook’s hard disk.

Now I’m stuck again. How do I get the files from the PowerBook to the iMac? There’s still no Ethernet, and I have no external writable media that’s compatible with both SCSI and USB.

After contemplating the new puzzle for a bit, I had an inspiration, and with a quick check on Wikipedia, confirmed that the internal drive in the PowerBook 190 is indeed IDE (it was among the very first Macs to use IDE for built-in storage). So I opened the PowerBook back up and removed the hard drive.

Then I plugged the drive into the ATA->USB adapter unit I have for emergencies, plugged that into the iMac, and voila! The PowerBook’s drive popped up on the iMac’s desktop.  So I got my files copied over.

The PowerBook is now about half reassembled, with its drive back in place; I need to undo a couple of screws to get back in because I once again accidentally yanked the keyboard cable loose.

So, my files went from Mac SE to external SCSI to PowerBook to IDE adapter to iMac. Long, strange trip!

 Posted by at 12:48 AM