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EvieSigma

Is the 800/840 really that bad to work on?

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I want a tower to complete my 68k "one of every form factor" collection, but since 950s are hard to come by I've been looking at 800s and 840s. However, one thing I've always heard (from LEM articles and even Wikipedia!) is that the 800/840 is a real pain to work on due to its size. My question is...is that really true? It doesn't seem THAT small...

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They're exceptionally fragile these days (the 8100 shares the case), which is a problem.

 

Not sure about the 8xx but you have to remove the entire logic board to swap/add RAM on the 8100.

Edited by TheWhiteFalcon

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The 8500, 800, 840av, 8100 models need some disassembly to get to important parts for upgrades but how often do you need to do that?

 

Plastics of the era are brittle (start button for example, drive bezel covers).

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Wear safety glasses, shards of case plastics flying off at the slightest touch would be your biggest problem. If you find an undamaged case  .  .  .  never mind, you won't, but if you happen to, it won't be after the first time you open it.

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I guess I'll just have to hope one falls into my lap, then. I don't really want to have to glue an entire computer back together, gluing the CRT mounts on my SE back together was bad enough!

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I'd dare say an 840AV will be more expensive and harder to find than a 950 - and the 800s there aren't many around either.  With all of them, hopefully you'll get a pickup only sale as it's the only way you'll get a Quadra tower cheaply and without damage.  No-one posts 900/950s.

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Oh don't worry, I've been looking for a few months now! I only just got into Mac collecting over the summer but I immediately wanted a 950 for its stunning profile and the fact that, aside from clock speed, it was the absolute pinnacle of the 68k Mac. It might take a long time but I'm gonna have one, because, well, I gotta have one. It's just that awesome.

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Get a 650. The cases are more durable and it is literally the same computer as the 800. The (metal) top slides right off and the RAM and everything else is right there.

 

To answer the original question though -- the 800/840 aren't that bad in my opinion. Not sure if I just have some kind of super magical 840, but in the past ten years I've had the thing, between a few moves and being in storage for several years, maybe only one or two small internal clips have come off. More of that was due to the fact that the case is just a bad design to begin with than due to bad plastics, but the plastics on these things are aging.

 

My 840 and my first 840 were kind of a (metaphoric) pain to take apart, but mine never drew blood. It's just difficult, it takes a lot of time and patience and a large work area, but it's doable and if you plan things out and combine multiple work items into a single journey inside the machine, you'll be fine.

 

Another thought: It's probably worth thinking very very very hard about whether you really want "the pinnacle of the 68k Mac". I find that it's honestly not relevant these days as you can get a much better, easier to service, and more capable powerpc machine (from the 6100 on up to the blue-and-white G3) for almost nothing these days. And, because the main things that were important about the pinnacle of 68k computing is that they had higher performance back when performance actually mattered because minutes and hours spent rendering or waiting for the machine to complete tasks meant billable dollars on a project. And, in the later '90s and early '00s, the highest performance 68k Macs (in general, any '040 and most nice '030s) were good on the Internet. A faster machine with more RAM meant better multi-tasking and better usage of 56k modems, back when Internet connect time meant dollars, and so if you could chat, download, fetch email, and read news all more or less at once, you were in better shape.

 

Today, unless you're building an Avid, there's not a whole lot that a 950 can do that a 475 or a 610 can't.

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Well I actually found someone semi-locally with a 950 after posting an ad on LEM Swap looking for a 6100 riser card...

 

What is an Avid?

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I've yet to have a late 68K or beige PPC Mac shipped to me that survived the journey completely unscathed. The best was my 6500, which came in a Mac Pro box(refurb white box) but even it had a few odds and ends broken.

 

I really, really hate working on the case style of the 800/8500 and the like. As said, you basically have to take everything apart to get to the RAM. It's all good and well to say you only have to do it once, but in reality if you run into corroded RAM slots you might be fighting it for a while to get everything working. It's a VERY good idea to power these up on the bench before putting them back together-you can hopefully address any issues there.

 

I was given a Q800 case a while back, but unfortunately it has a 7100 LoBo in it. I consider that a real shame, but then who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth(the same guy gave me a bunch of great stuff, including a IIci, an ImageWriter II, a pair of Imagewriter LCs, a IIgs, and a couple of parts Apple IIs, 68Ks, and PPCs).

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I had good luck with shipping my 7300 and my 6500 "back in the day" -- but I"m talking about over ten years ago, so there was a time it made sense to ship all this stuff.

 

I bet it can still be shipped fine, but it can't be shipped fine particularly inexpensively, since you're going to need big, well-packed boxes that can protect these things from being dropped and jostled. Long gone are the days of pulling like five machines that were wrapped only in newspaper and one layer of peanuts out of a single box.

 

 

What is an Avid?

 

Avid is a company that makes video editing software and hardware. They still do, but today, computers are powerful enough to do most video tasks without any assistance from special hardware, and cameras put video files directly onto cards and disks that can be read with USB adapters.

 

Building "an Avid" basically up through the G3 era meant stuffing a Mac with more than three slots completely full of cards. Usually there's a video in/out card, a compression board or two, and at least one SCSI card, possibly also a video card for use with a big monitor.

 

Big video editing systems, or, say, something to do with Rockets, or something like the Symbolics/Genera card are probably the main reasons to ever get such a big system. Nothing on system 7 outside of these things, or using OS 8/late'90s era Internet applications has a practical usage for much more than about 32 megs of RAM on a Quadra.

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Actually, if I do get that 950, I was thinking of setting it up as a network server and backup machine...have it run a network for my other 68ks and hook an external HD or two to it. I dunno.

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You can do that on pretty much any machine. There's nothing special about the 950 in particular when it comes to serving, except that in the early '90s when it was current, it held more internal disks than any other Mac. The 950 also holds 5.25-inch hard disks if necessary, which were at that time usually reserved for bigger systems, but they had bigger capacities.

 

There were, in fact, Apple Workgroup Server configs of the 610 and 800 as well, and later, the AWGS family had systems such as the 6150, 8150, 7350, 9650, and the 9150.

 

Today, a pi or a VM on a modern machine with netatalk running is probably going to be as good or better for a network server.

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You can do that on pretty much any machine. There's nothing special about the 950 in particular when it comes to serving, except that in the early '90s when it was current, it held more internal disks than any other Mac.

Well, the WGS 95 version of it is special because it's the one system that ran A/UX and Appleshare Pro, but, yes, if you're *not* doing that it's just a Mac in a particularly monumentally-scaled case.

 

I've never dealt with a Quadra 800 (I had a Q650 instead) but I did years ago spend some time bringing a dysfunctional Power Mac 8500 back from the dead, and it uses the same case. And, well, everything terrible people say about that case is true. The laminated "plastic shell with aluminum shielding" construction makes it a bloodthirsty monster just waiting to take a chunk off your fingers as you fight with trying to get the *#$*ing top on and off. I especially had issues with the little tabs along the bottom of the case; they just begged to snag on things, including the lid as you tried to get it on and off, and I ended up having to cut some particularly bent ones off because of what a hassle they were causing. (It didn't help that the machine I was working with had obviously been dealt with by a less than careful hand in the past; the lid was sitting drooped loosely over it when I pulled it off the junk pile because of the mess they made when they pulled it apart.)

 

There's very little metal in the case other than that shielding, and I have no doubt whatsoever that shipping one now, knowing how well plastic from that era ages, is just *asking* for trouble. I second the recommendation of a Quadra 650 instead. It is literally *exactly* the same motherboard (there's actually a pin on, what is it, the speaker connector?, that tells the motherboard what case it's in for identification, so if you swap a motherboard from one to the other the ID will change according to which chassis it's living in) and while the case isn't "exciting", being very much like what you'd find on a PC clone from a company like Dell of the same era, all the important parts are *metal*, it's reasonably sturdy, and far less gimmicky.

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You could expand your search to the Centris 650, it's the same machine other than it runs at 25mhz instead of 33mhz but, well, yeah, amazingly enough there are none on eBay right now. (Not that I see any 800s either.)

The 650 was by no means rare as Macs go back in the day; the one I had came off a huge pile of the things at a local tech recycler back in, sheesh, 2003 or so. But, well, I think the fact that they were so common and relatively plain-jane probably doomed them to be forgotten by collectors. It's a shame because so far as I'm concerned they're about the best mainstream 68040 Macintosh they ever made; the 900s were too big and expensive, the Q605/610 were more awkward and limited to upgrade, and the Performa/LC 5xx and 63xs were, well, chintzy. They were good, powerful workhorses, but like most workhorses they ended up being turned into glue when they weren't able to pull the wagon anymore.

If you really want a "Tower" 68k and a 900/950 is too much get a Quadra 700 and stand it on its side. It was a supported orientation.

457px-Macintosh_Quadra_700.png

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