Profiles in Networking
The Compact Macs
The compact Mac series opened with the black-and-white Macintosh 128K in 1984 and closed with the Color Classic II in 1993. Most models have a small black-and-white screen and CPU speed in the single digits, which is practically primeval compared to today’s style and speed demons. Primeval doesn’t necessarily mean useless, however. Assuming your haven’t turned your compact Mac into a fishbowl, you can use LocalTalk out of the box and add Ethernet support with an adapter and some tinkering.
People new to computer networks and their uses can check out the ATPM/Threemacs Web site for additional information and setup help. This article also refers to relevant sub-pages of that site.
Compact Mac System Software
Your Mac includes basic network support through its system software, but you should confirm that it’s installed and ready. On compact Macs, check the Control Panels folder (in the Apple menu or in the System Folder) and look for Network and Sharing Setup. Also check the Apple menu for the Chooser. Later on, these three programs will control your network connection and network file sharing.
If any of the three are missing, you should download the Network Software Installer from Apple and use it to install the missing pieces. You can also reinstall the system software as a whole, though that will take longer and might be overkill just to get network support. The Mac Plus, SE, SE/30, and Classic can use system versions up to 7.5.5. The Classic II, Color Classic, and Color Classic II can use up to System 7.6.1. If RAM and hard disk space are limited, go with System 7.0.1, as it’s less demanding than the 7.5 and 7.6 versions.
- Network Software Installer
- System 7.0.1
- System 7.5.3
- System 7.5.5 upgrade (install after 7.5.3)
- System 7.6.1 upgrade (requires purchase of 7.6)
The file downloads are free, but they are on the large side and will require patience from dial-up users. Open the downloaded file and follow the instructions to install.
Every Mac since the Plus includes LocalTalk support through its serial (modem and printer) ports. LocalTalk is slow but inexpensive, requiring only a single printer cable to connect two Macs.
Two-Mac LocalTalk Network
Larger LocalTalk networks require a LocalTalk adapter for each Mac and printer on the network.
Three-or-More-Mac LocalTalk Network
This article focuses on Ethernet, which is more problematic than LocalTalk for compact Macs. See the ATPM/Threemacs Network Setup page for detailed LocalTalk setup instructions.
Ethernet is the most common network type for home and business. It uses a special Ethernet cable and connects each networked Mac to a central hub or switch. Ethernet is many times faster than LocalTalk, though exact performance will vary, especially on the slower compact Mac models.
Ethernet Switch (or Hub) Network
For two (and only two) Mac Ethernet networks, you can use a special crossover Ethernet cable instead of the hub or switch.
Ethernet Crossover Network
Ethernet is a comparative latecomer to home networks and takes more work to set up than LocalTalk. All compact Macs starting with the Mac Plus support LocalTalk, but none include Ethernet support, so you need to add an internal card or external adapter to connect to an Ethernet network.
External Ethernet Adapters
External adapters typically connect to the Mac’s SCSI port (a 25-pin, rectangular port on the back) and provide an Ethernet port, which is similar to, but slightly larger than, a phone jack.
You connect the Ethernet port to your hub or switch with a piece of Ethernet cable, available at most computer stores. External Ethernet adapters usually have a separate power supply, so make sure you have an available plug. Setup is straightforward: connect the adapter to the Mac, connect the Mac to the network using an Ethernet cable, plug in the power supply, and you’re done with the hardware setup.
This is a partial list of Mac-compatible SCSI-to-Ethernet adapters (there may be others). Like the compact Macs, these adapters are discontinued and can be hard to find. Check the shopping sites listed under Finding Ethernet Adapters to start your search.
- Asante Desktop EN/SC-10T (Mac Plus, SE, SE/30, Classic, Classic II)
- Asante Micro EN/SC (Mac Plus, SE, SE/30, Classic, Classic II)
- Dayna SCSI/LINK (Mac Plus, SE, SE/30, Classic, Classic II)
- Dayna EZPort (Mac Plus, SE, SE/30, Classic, Classic II)
Internal Ethernet Expansion Cards
Installing an internal expansion card requires opening the Mac’s case, a procedure that requires technical skill and caution, as the monitor capacitor stores considerable voltage and can be very dangerous. If you’re not ready for this, use an external adapter or contact a computer repair service that services Macs.
Internal Expansion Cards
- Asante MacCon+ SEET (SE)
- Asante MacCon3 IIsi (SE/30)
- Dayna E/SE (SE)
- Dayna E/30 (SE/30)
- Dayna E/si30 (SE/30)
- Dayna E/LC (Color Classic, Color Classic II)
- Asante MacConi LC-10T (Color Classic, Color Classic II)
- MacAlly LC-PDS Ethernet (Color Classic, Color Classic II)
- 3Com Etherlink/SE (SE)
- Cabletron SE/30 (SE/30)
Finding Ethernet Adapters and Expansion Cards
When shopping for external adapters or internal expansion cards, check the networking or communications section, or search the parts list for Ethernet. Look for SCSI or LC-PDS (not plain PDS) in the card description, as appropriate to your Mac model. Your decision is easier if the description specifically lists your Mac as a supported model, but it may only name the card type.
- eBay Macintosh hardware auctions (try searching on Ethernet or the adapter manufacturer’s name)
- Small Dog Electronics
- Your favorite search engine (this can turn up online parts resellers)
Most expansion cards and external adapters include support software. Since cards will require their software to function properly, be cautious when purchasing used cards that don’t have the original software. The card manufacturer’s Web site can be a saving grace, as many companies post their support software online, even for discontinued products.
Conclusion: What’s Next
Once the hardware side of your network setup is complete, see the ATPM/Threemacs Mac File Sharing page for help sharing files between networked Macs.
See the Sharing a Printer page for help sharing or using a network printer.
See the Share an Internet Connection page if you’d like to connect your Mac to a shared connection. Since the compact Macs are relatively slow, they probably won’t work well as software routers, but can use hardware routers and software routers on other Macs.
Also in This Series
- Mac to Windows: Troubleshooting the “No Logon Servers Available” File Sharing Error · October 2004
- Using WEP Security on an AirPort Network · July 2004
- Whatever happened to…Threemacs.com? · September 2003
- Clandestine Wireless Networking and MacStumbler · July 2003
- Learning to Share With Others: Sharing Preferences Overview · April 2003
- Serving Files Using FTP in Mac OS X · December 2002
- Switching Between Networks in Mac OS X · November 2002
- The Audio/Video Quadras (660av, 840av) · September 2002
- Thoughts on Apple’s Xserve · July 2002
- Complete Archive