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RetroChallenge 2022/10 – Getting the Apple IIe Card working

I thought this was going to be a lot easier than it was. My very first Mac back in the day was a Macintosh LC with IIe Card (as I was upgrading from a IIgs) so I was familiar with how it worked. The biggest issues all turned out to be old hardware related.

I chose an LC475 because it is the fastest Mac capable of running the IIe Card as it has an LC-PDS slot and supports 24-bit operation. It has the added advantage of being easily accessible for installing the card and dealing with any hard drive and floppy drive issues. Boy did I run into some hard drive and floppy drive issues.

I powered up the LC475 and got a reassuring startup chime. The logicboard and PSU were professional recapped 2 years ago so I wasn’t anticipating any problems there. After the RAM check I got the (all too familiar these days) flashing question mark. The hard drive was dead, no problem, I had plenty of old SCSI drives. After about the 10th dead/dying/screeching/howling hard drive I decided to break my own rules and go for a more modern solid state solution. I have a large variety of these SCSI to SD/CF card solutions such as the Block Devices – AztecMonster, SCSI2SD and Volume Devices – BlueSCSI and RaSCSI. I won’t go into details on these solutions here but I decided on the BlueSCSI for the LC as it was the simples to setup. Once I got a blank image on the BlueSCSI and I could get it to appear on the SCSI bus I was ready to install software. I went for 7.5.5 as it is the most stable on the LC475 while still supporting the Apple IIe Card software. I made floppy disk images with another Mac in preparation for the software install.

This was where I hit the next old hardware snag. I powered on the LC475 and inserted the Install 1 disk only to have the drive make weird noises and eject the floppy. I tried multiple floppy disks with the same result. Finding an internal HD floppy drive that worked was more of a challenge than I expected. I didn’t have any spare internal drives but I did have a few working external 800kB drives but only two Apple SuperDrives so was reluctant to open them up for the internal HD drives they contain. Before I sacrificed these precious drives I decided to do a bit of maintenance on the faulty internal drive. After a bit of cleaning with Iso Propyl Alcohol and applying some lithium grease the drive finally worked.

After all the hardware failures I was finally able to install System 7.5.5 (Note: you have to install 7.5.3 and then update to 7.5.5) and the IIe card software, partitioned the card with one HFS (Mac SD) and two ProDOS volumes (PDOS1, PDOS2), installed ProDOS 2.4.2 on them and I was ready to go. For details on how to partition the drive see Jays Graham’s KansasFest 2021 presentation Apple IIe Card Partitioning, it was an invaluable guide to something I genuinely thought I knew how to do. I now had the Apple IIe Card running a IIe inside my Macintosh LC475, now to get the AppleShare Server running……..

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