2021 68k and PowerPC Challenge Mac-Yak team – what Steve did.

Steve himself is a machine when it comes to vintage hardware, so he deserves his own entry here. An edit of his blog post follows, or you can read his original post at mac84.net here:


“The idea of the challenge after all is not to get fired from your job for not being able to do your work, but more to have fun in your leisure time with these aging machines. This was something I wanted to do, I missed out on the previous PowerPC challenges, so I wanted to make up for it in a big way.” – Steve, Mac84

So my thought was, well… if everyone has had such success and fun doing the PowerPC challenge before… why not make it more interesting? What about using a Mac which came before the PowerPC machines for some day-to-day tasks? Like 68K Macs? (These are called 68K Macs because they use a Motorola 68000 series CPU)

I realized from the inception of my idea that there would be some things I clearly could not do. Some silly ideas were now nearly impossible, like sending tweets from a 68K Mac. It was possible a while ago, but Twitter’s security and protocol settings have since changed, closing the door (at least for now) at such high-tech sorcery.

But besides browsing social media, viewing videos on YouTube, and using modern email services, a lot can be accomplished on a 68K Mac. Sure, not as much as a PowerPC Mac, but still – work could be done!

Tower of Power

But what machine would I use? I have quite a collection of 68K Macs, and it got me thinking, what would make the most sense? Well it needed to be fast, expandable, and in working condition. Sadly, my Quadra 840 AV ticked all those boxes, except the latter – it still does not want to work. But what about the next best thing, a Quadra 800.

The sibling to the 840 AV packs a respectable 33MHz processor when compared to the speedier 40MHz processor on the 840 AV (the fastest of any 68K Mac!). Although it lacks some extra digital signal processors, video input jacks, and some other bells and whistles, the 800 is no slouch. In fact, at first glance you could mistake the 800 for the 840 AV, as they share a very similar case. Plus, using a desktop Mac like the 800 would allow me to experiment with accessories, add-ons, and peripherals.

The Quadra 800 has the unique ability to run a wide array of Macintosh System Software (that’s the equivalent of the macOS for you modern folks). It can’t run System 6 (which is a shame), but it can run System 7.1 all the way through Mac OS 8.1, and everything in between.

Let The Challenge Begin

Fast forward to January, when everyone was expected to do the challenge, life managed to get int he way, as it does. However, I did still use the machine as much as it made sense to. I never planned to only use my 68K Mac, I had a handy 12″ PowerBook G4 to help with modern tasks too, and a Mac mini G4 model to act as a bridge machine between file transfers to and from my Intel-based Macs.

Most of the tasks I were able to perform on my Quadra 800 were pretty simple, word processing, some light image editing, and record keeping. In fact, I record and write all of my vintage Macintosh repair note for my clients on my Quadra 800. I fire up ClarisWorks 4 and type away on a lovely Apple Extended keyboard, which is such a joy to type on. In fact – I’m using such a machine now to type this blog post!

The desk I have next to the Quadra was built for the days of having a chunky printer below your desk. So it’s a perfect spot for my ImageWriter II dot matrix printer, which you may know I have a small obsession with. As a little dorky treat for those who appreciate these vintage machines, I print out my invoices and notes from my client’s Macs and include them with their repaired systems. Sure, it takes some extra time, but it’s honestly a joy to do.

I’ve probably spent more time playing games and tinkering around than I have writing however, although I’ll be honest, I haven’t been keeping track. And the cold floor of the basement sometimes urges me to retreat upstairs with my PowerBook instead.

I used the PowerBook G4 to interface with my older Canon 8800F scanner, which does a nice job of scanning transparencies and film. Sadly the scanner doesn’t work on anything past Mac OS X 10.11 “El Capitan”. The PowerBook worked fine, so fine that there really wasn’t anything to report.

Leave a Comment