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Bringing my Apple Centris Back to life

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Hi All, new to the group and really needing some help.


I've just dug out my old Apple Centris 650 (230 MB hard drive with a 2X CD-ROM drive) and still have the original working - monitor, keyboard & mouse, software install disks and a couple of printer cables.


But here are my issues..

1. When I start it up only a floppy disk icon appears with a flashing question mark, am I right in assuming this means it is searching for the Hard drive / floppy disk? and does this mean the Hard drive has packed up? taking the case off shows the drive is still powered. (But if it was working,i assume i would end up seeing the desktop instead of this disk icon?)


Assuming the HD is working 

2. When i insert the installation floppy disks (system 7.1), it's telling me the computer isn't compatible and requires (system 7.3) I cannot remember but i'm sure i must have upgraded the system when i used it, so does this mean i can't install from the original 'old' 7.1 system disks any more, i.e down grade back to 7.1?

3. Can I use the centris's CD-rom drive to re-install 7.3? I do have a MacBook  pro and a superdrive, but have no clue where to find a true version of system 7.3 (or later?). I did have a quick look but they seem to be emulated versions and also compressed? If i did go this route what exactly would i have to do ? How do i get my Centris to see the CD ROM drive as the boot drive?


Assuming the HD isn't working

Is it easy to replace? or is there a more modern hack to use usb memory instead?


Any advice would be greatly welcome, Thanks



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Having upgraded the software in the past would not make the original installer disks not work like this. Did you by any chance upgrade it in hardware terms to PPC with a PDS card back in the day?


System 7.1.3 is possibly what it is looking for. There was no 7.3.


You'd find installers to download on https://www.macintoshrepository.org

Edited by beachycove
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Assuming it doesn’t have a PPC upgrade card, it’ll need a startup disk with the 040 System Enabler if you’re using System 7.1. The System 7.5.3 installer disks are widely available and should boot without issue.

My recollection is that you can boot from the CDROM drive if it’s one of Apple’s (either factory original or another compatible Apple OEM drive).

Yes, the flashing ‘?’ disk means it can’t find a valid System Folder. Either the HD has died or the system has gotten corrupted somehow. 

I’m not sure why your original install disks are giving you that message. Is there a Disk Tools disk with your set, or a disk labeled “Install Me First” or something like that? You might need to boot from one of those, then eject that disk and proceed with installing from the other disks. The Disk Tools disk will also have the hard drive setup utilities that might be useful for checking out the HD.


The main modern option, if the HD is dead, is the SCSI2SD. It uses a SD card and emulates a SCSI HD. There’s plenty of information on this site and on the web about setting one up for a vintage Mac. There are other options (using a U320 SCA SCSI with an adapter), but it seems like most folks go the SCSI2SD route.

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