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Recently in a couple posts I found a Macintosh SE on my local Facebook Marketplace. I wasn't going to go for it since I'm already sinking a bit of money into my (superior) 1991 Macintosh Classic, but I wanted to see it go to a good home instead of a landfill or electronics recycler. Last night I ended up shooting the seller a (honestly low-ball) offer to see if she'd bite. This morning she responded.

 

Tonight, a 1988 Macintosh SE followed me home.

 

For $45, I wouldn't say I underpaid for this machine - but it did come with some accessories. First, a carrying case - which I've been thinking about a lot lately. I wanted one to tote my Macintosh Classic around when I get it operational. The SE also came with the original ADB Extended keyboard and original ADB "Cybertruck" mouse. Which is great, because the peripherals I have for my Classic are much later. (The ADB Extended keyboard, if I'm not mistaken, has mechanical key switches as opposed to the membrane used in my Apple Design Keyboard.) Also came with cords (two power cords) and a Cal Poly mousepad. (Strange considering I'm in Missouri.)

 

However, they're not in the greatest shape. They were obviously in the home of a smoker, because the cigarette smoke/nicotine smell is pungent if you're close with the machine or bag/accessories. The computer, keyboard and mouse are all extremely yellow. The computer itself only has two floppy drives - no hard drive. My Classic is a vastly superior machine, but once again I just didn't want to see it go to waste. The bag itself is extremely dirty and could use a good cleaning. Computer also needs a good cleaning to remove writing on it.

 

It does work and the CRT appears to be bright, and can't see much burn-in. I don't have a system floppy (or a FloppyEmu) to boot it.

 

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17 hours ago, Garrett said:

original ADB "Cybertruck" mouse

I'm glad I'm not the only one to spot the resemblance between the mouse and Cybertruck. In fact, I made this photo shortly after the Cybertruck was announced. :)

mouseTruck.jpg

 

Edited by davidg5678
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I actually made a similar meme back on Twitter after the Cybertruck announcement.

2017907491_ScreenShot2020-10-18at12_25_56AM.thumb.png.e26953320900542a1b2006b3c3e56d42.png

 

Anyways, after getting back home I removed the logic board from the SE to look at the battery. It has a Varta battery that appears to be in decent condition, but I can't remove it since it is soldered on. Which is somewhat scary because I don't have a soldering iron (or skills) and this computer probably isn't going to be recapped for a while, since my 1991 Classic is currently being recapped.

 

This is my first time working on a compact Mac other than my Classic, and the logic board is a royal pain to reinstall. That speaker connector had me for a little while, and unfortunately I bent the pins when removing the logic board. (I didn't know it was a thing.) I was able to bend the pins back and everything seems to be working fine since.

 

I wish I had a system boot disk so I can get it working. I plan on getting a FloppyEmu in the (hopefully not so distant) future for my Classic, so I may be able to either use the FloppyEmu on the SE or create a floppy for booting so I don't need to bring the FloppyEmu with me. I'm not sure if the SE will get used a lot - I was intending on not having any more computers (esp. compact Macs) until this all happened, and I was planning on using the Classic for word processing and gaming. (Classic has a 40MB hard drive with Word 4.0, Excel, MacWrite, MacPaint and a couple games already installed.)

 

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If you are nervous about it, you can just clip the Varta out and deal with it later. Clip close to the battery and leave the legs - you can solder whatever you decide to replace the battery with to them.

 

I popped open an SE last week that had a soldered in Varta that was still showing 3.1v on it...

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16 hours ago, ScutBoy said:

If you are nervous about it, you can just clip the Varta out and deal with it later. Clip close to the battery and leave the legs - you can solder whatever you decide to replace the battery with to them. 

Yeah, I just cut them out when I get the machines to start with.  Honestly, there's ... surprisingly little call for working PRAM at all in those.

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I'll clip out the battery next time I have it apart. That speaker connector really threw me. I think I'm going to leave the battery out of the SE, since it's probably not going to be used as much, and it doesn't have the brightness settings in software. (Which is nice.)

 

Does anyone have a system software boot disk that I can use for this machine? I don't have a floppy drive (or 800k floppies, either) and it didn't come with any floppies. (Strangely, it did come with the two yellow floppy drive protector inserts and the original mouse pad.) I plan on picking up a FloppyEmu in the future for the Classic and the SE, but that probably won't be for another couple months.

 

I know you can still buy 1.44 MB "high-density" floppies, but is there anywhere you can still purchase 800k floppies for a reasonable price? If my thinking is correct, I can still write to 800k floppies using the SuperDrive in the Classic.

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To my knowledge, there are no "new" 800k disks out there, only NOS ones. I could always get a system disk out to you (not original, mind you). Did you clean/lubricate the floppy drives?

 

You do seem to have a very nice, crisp screen there.

Edited by LaPorta
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2 hours ago, LaPorta said:

To my knowledge, there are no "new" 800k disks out there, only NOS ones. I could always get a system disk out to you (not original, mind you). Did you clean/lubricate the floppy drives?

 

You do seem to have a very nice, crisp screen there.

I have not lubricated or cleaned the floppy drives on both machines, though I'd like to do it. Both drives in the SE seem to work really well (I believe the seller said the machine sat in storage for 10+ years) and the drive on the Classic also seems to work well. How do you clean/lubricate the drives?

 

If it's okay, could I PM my address to you? I don't really mind if the boot material is original or not, but I'd really like to get the SE booted into an operating system like System 6. I can cover the cost of postage, although I don't think it'd be that much considering it'd likely just be a floppy.

 

Kinda sad/annoyed that macOS doesn't support writing to floppies. AFAIK, Windows still supports it but I've heard Windows can "corrupt" the files or something along that line. Also, many files from Macintosh Garden are archived in StuffIt packages, which I expand on my MBP. Oh well... I plan to get a FloppyEmu at some point in the future, which will simplify things a bit and allow me to easily transfer files between my modern Mac and these old Macs. I don't have a USB floppy drive or any blank diskettes anyways.

 

As for the display, yes. Despite being in relatively poor cosmetic condition, the display on the SE seems to be in really good condition. It needs a good cleaning, as with the rest of the computer. But it's bright and I can't see any burn-in.

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You can still write to floppies; the issue is that the newer OS versions don’t support writing to the HFS file system, which these floppies use. The other issue you would have is no USB drive can write to 800k floppies, just 1.4 MB ones.

 

As for cleaning and lubrication, I have a guide on YouTube:

 

 

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8 hours ago, Garrett said:

Also, many files from Macintosh Garden are archived in StuffIt packages, which I expand on my MBP

An aside: it may be worth trying to network them, if you're transferring files around regularly.  Networking classic macs is dead easy and works very well (LocalTalk is slow but effective) and you can bridge it to Ethernet in a number of ways (I use what boils down to being a spare LC II) to get files on and off more modern machines.

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19 hours ago, LaPorta said:

You can still write to floppies; the issue is that the newer OS versions don’t support writing to the HFS file system, which these floppies use. The other issue you would have is no USB drive can write to 800k floppies, just 1.4 MB ones.

I thought macOS dropped support from writing to floppies way back before APFS. I guess to write it I would need to transfer the file to my Macintosh Classic, then copy it over to a 800k disk. But it sounds like 800k disks can be quite rare.

 

I went ahead and purchased a 6.0.8 boot floppy for the SE on eBay. Which is actually one version newer than what's on my Classic - which is 6.0.7.

17 hours ago, cheesestraws said:

An aside: it may be worth trying to network them, if you're transferring files around regularly.  Networking classic macs is dead easy and works very well (LocalTalk is slow but effective) and you can bridge it to Ethernet in a number of ways (I use what boils down to being a spare LC II) to get files on and off more modern machines.

I've thought about this but these are the only two vintage Macs I have at this point, and I plan on getting a FloppyEmu at some point in the (hopefully near) future. With that said, I think there's a serial cable included in the bag that I could possibly connect between my Classic and SE.

 

I'm not sure what I'm going to use the SE for yet. I know I want to use the Classic for some word processing and playing vintage games, but I've been scratching my head thinking of a purpose for the SE. (I was hoping my next vintage Mac would be a modular Mac of some form, like a LC or II/Quadra, so I can play around with System 7 and a color display.) I'm thinking about possibly using the SE as the one I can tote around, and keep the Classic here.

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APFS has nothing to do with it. I believe somewhere back around 10.7 or something, the OS only had the ability to read HFS, but not write to HFS. That goes for any HFS disk, including hard disks. HFS plus (otherwise known as Mac OS Extended), on the other hand, is still used and is fine. That may have been your confusion.

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Is there a good place to purchase blank 800k/Double Density disks? I went ahead and ordered the 6.0.8 system boot floppy, but just realized all my software is on High Density disks that will only work in my Classic. All of the ones on eBay I could find had the system software already installed.

 

Obviously, it's not a huge problem because I plan to get the FloppyEmu. But I think it would be nice to have at least some software on floppies, and have some blank floppies as backups.

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Status update on the SE: it's alive, sorta.

 

Friday I got the 6.0.8 boot floppy. The SE booted right into it, with no issues. Everything seems to be working fine, and then some. After 32 years, the original Varta battery has appeared to have held a charge. The system date was spot-on, and the time was only off by about an hour. Incredible. It has even seemed to "saved" the previous owner's favorite system sound - the monkey.

 

 

clock.jpg

 

I'm guessing my next step in this project is to go ahead and remove the floppy drives to clean and lubricate them. (I decided to live on the edge a bit by inserting the boot floppy into the drive, despite the label on the envelope instructing to only insert in a cleaned/lubricated drive.)

 

While I'm at that, I guess I'm going to go ahead and clean the plastic to the best of my ability. (No retrobriting.) Any suggestions? There seem to be some marks on the keyboard and top of the bucket. Also, any suggestions for getting rid or at least masking the cigarette odor - or am I just stuck with that? I'd also like to clean up the bag. I've been thinking about possibly lugging the SE to our student union and setting it up to do some "work" when I get a FloppyEmu for it so I can load additional software. (All I can do right now is boot into System 6 and use the Control Panel and TeachText. All my software is on high-density diskettes this SE can't read. And it seems like acquiring blank double-density disks can be a difficult and costly task.)

 

My 1991 Macintosh Classic project is also moving forward. The analog board has been recapped and both boards are (AFAIK) on their way back to me. The guy who recapped the board (Thomas) told me that I would need to apply some clear nail polish over some of the exposed copper traces that the silkscreen rubbed off on before installing it back in the computer. I also need to clean and lubricate the SuperDrive in the Classic, as well as clean the plastics and little fan. (The Classic is surprisingly clean inside and out, but I decided to go ahead and clean the fan while I have easy access to it.)

 

One thing I've been thinking about a lot today on the Classic is a 555 timer IC that may be failing. Thomas mentioned that the weird garbage on the screen when the computer first boots (which sometimes doesn't happen, and when it does happen can last anywhere from 5 seconds to 30 minutes or longer) may be caused by a bad 555 timer IC that isn't triggering a reset properly. It dawned on me today that back in early June when the computer was (nearly) fully operational, the clock would sometimes "freeze." Possibly these are connected? Either way, I don't think that affected performance besides the weird garbage.

 

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4 hours ago, Garrett said:

While I'm at that, I guess I'm going to go ahead and clean the plastic to the best of my ability. (No retrobriting.) Any suggestions? There seem to be some marks on the keyboard and top of the bucket. Also, any suggestions for getting rid or at least masking the cigarette odor - or am I just stuck with that?

I have used three methods to get rid of cigarette odor.  One is pretty quick, but the other two can take quite a bit longer - these worked for me, but your mileage may vary.

 

1) I got one of my first vintage Macs, an SE, from my father-in-law and it came with an intense cigarette smell (he and his wife both smoked a LOT and she died of lung cancer some years back).  I took the entire case and frame apart and washed or thoroughly cleaned everything that I could not bathe.  I used Windex and Mr Sparkle (non-ammonia) cleaner for the cleanup and some kind of laundry detergent for the parts that I bathed.  If I was doing it today, there would probably be alcohol or peroxide involved as well.  Be especially sure to get all the smoke-infused dust.  In mine, the dust was an oily, sticky, yellow mess from years of cigarette smoke exposure.  When I was done, it smelled better, but it took literally years, before the smell was (to me) entirely gone.

2) This method is mostly for parts and is not meant for metal, but primarily for plastic, wiring harnesses, cables and such, but it can be used for larger things as well.  After cleaning the items, I put parts in a tub, out in the garage, and if there are several, layer them in paper towels that have been sprayed with Febreze, then cover all of it with another paper towel sprayed with Febreze and periodically refresh the towels by re-spraying them.  Keep them in the tub for as long as it takes for the smell to leave.  The key here is to allow the Febreze to be in contact with the material and have big enough area space, that the smell can dissipate.  I had a bag that came with an SE/30 that smelled terribly of cigarette smoke and I used a variant of this method on the bag (put Febreze soaked towels inside it, sprayed the outside and left it out in the garage to evaporate and it smells great today.

3) Clean what you can, ditch what you can't and use replacement parts.  This works the quickest, since the smell leaves with the replaced parts.

 

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Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not sure how far I'll want to go in terms of "restoring" the SE. If I ever have the machine completely disassembled (such as to retrobrite in the future) I'll probably go ahead and try your method. Until then, I think I can live with the odor. It's noticeable, but not horrible or breath-taking. Unfortunately, the bag is what smells the worst. I'd like to keep the carrying bag since (from what I've seen) they're not exactly cheap, and it works pretty well. It just needs a good cleaning. But I'm afraid there's probably no good way to get the odor out of it.

 

The case itself is in poor cosmetic condition, obviously besides the yellowing and odor. It has some scratches and the pervious owner marked their name into both the bucket and top of the keyboard. What is the best method for cleaning the plastics and getting rid of the permanent marker without damaging the plastic?

 

I've done some more playing around with the Macintosh SE (typing in TeachText) and noticed a very faint, narrow horizontal line that "rolls" from the top to bottom on the CRT. I'm assuming that's normal and nothing to be concerned with. The clock has been maintaining time since I set it to the proper time earlier today. I can't wait to get a FloppyEmu for this machine so I can play some games and run some additional software on it.

 

Sometime when I have a lot of down time (probably December) I'll try to get the SE apart and tackle the floppy drives per the guide by @LaPorta. I've only been able to skim through the video but it looks like a daunting task with all of the disassembly.

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Put the bag on a short cycle in the washing machine, very light soap. It can take it. Take off the strap. Don't put it in the dryer!

 

If you have an appropriately sized cardboard box put it inside as it air dries. It will help it keep it's shape. Take the box out after a day or so, and let it completely dry inside. Using a fan or two helps a lot.

 

As far as refurbishing the floppy, it's as @LaPorta says - it's much easier than it looks. Have a pair of fine pointed tweezers to release/replace the little springs on the sides, it makes it easier. If I get on a roll with a stack of drives, I can do one from start to finish in about 15-20 minutes as long as it's not super gunky. Mostly they are just full of dust.

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I'll try to tackle cleaning and lubricating the disk drives in December when I have a lot of down time. I'm just not the most mechanically inclined, and I have a habit of messing something up or skipping over a crucial step. But I'll give it a try and follow along with the video. After all, I'm really trying to learn the ropes of the hobby.

 

As for the bag, should I be able to wash it in the "high efficiency" front-load machines in our building, with a little bit of detergent? I'm guessing just put it on the "normal" setting for 30 minutes with cold water? Thankfully it appears I have a box that it *should* fit into - I can check later. Should giving it a wash take some of the cigarette/nicotine odor out?

 

A user on Reddit recently suggested using an "Air Sponge" to get the nicotine smell out, which may work for the bag if washing doesn't work. It'd be great if that worked on the computer and peripherals, too - so I don't have to completely disassemble it to clean the plastics and/or replace parts. But, as previously mentioned, I don't think I'd go that far on the SE - at least not right now.

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1 hour ago, ScutBoy said:

I used the short cycle on my washer. Not sure how long that was. It doesn’t have to be long. 

I would never have thought of putting one of those bags in the washer, and its so obvious!

 

23 hours ago, Garrett said:

It has some scratches and the pervious owner marked their name into both the bucket and top of the keyboard. What is the best method for cleaning the plastics and getting rid of the permanent marker without damaging the plastic?

Alcohol with white cloth/paper towels works well as a first line tool for getting out permanent marker, but sometimes you have to go farther.  I had a SCSI to ethernet box that was terribly, marked up.  I had to use acetone mixed with alcohol to get that out, but a few words of caution:

1) If you do go that route, mix it with the smallest amount of acetone that will do the job, mix it well in a glass/metal or ceramic cup, and test the mixture in an inconspicuous area, or on a test piece, if you have one.

2) Acetone WILL dissolve plastic, so do not use it undiluted and be careful to only use it sparingly.

3) DO NOT use straight acetone.

 

This article outlines several options, always try the least dangerous first. https://www.wikihow.life/Remove-Permanent-Marker-from-Plastics

 

 

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