Rescue stories from ye olde Mac!
January 3, 2010 4:09 PM   Subscribe

Best way to get files off of a 1994 Powerbook?

I have a PowerBook 150 (circa 1994) that has all my college papers, old letters, writing and so on -- mostly Word documents, possibly a few Pagemaker files.

It's been in one box or another since about 2002, unused. I found it again recently and decided I'd really like to get that stuff off of it. It still boots up, although the screen is a little sketchy, and it still has Word (5!) on it.

What are my options for getting my files?

(Other computers in the house include a 3 year old MacBook w/OSX10.4 and a fairly new Vista PC.)
posted by epersonae to Technology (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
At that point AppleTalk was the network of choice. You may be able to find an AppleTal adapter, then an AppleTalk to ethernet adapter, or a EtherPrint (which was an Appletalk to Enet adapter... OR you could take the IDE hard drive out and mount it in a housing.
posted by Gungho at 4:25 PM on January 3, 2010

Thing has a floppy drive? Why not simply save to those? You can buy cheap usb floppy drives that will work with your more modern computers.
posted by kickingtheground at 4:27 PM on January 3, 2010

I think the Powerbook 150s were the first to use IDE drives (as opposed to SCSI). I'd pull the drive, borrow or buy an enclosure, and find a utility to mount it. MacDrive sounds like it might work with on Vista, but it's $50. I don't know if OS X has HFS support.
posted by pullayup at 4:43 PM on January 3, 2010

If the powerbook can't produce floppies readable on modern computers, you might be able to get the powerbook to recognize FAT-formatted floppies made in Vista. This guy has a mac floppy image with PC Exchange, which might help with that. I'm not sure if it's for System 7, though. Do you have System 7, or did you upgrade it at some point?
posted by pullayup at 4:49 PM on January 3, 2010

Yes, there is an IDE drive inside the Powerbook 150 (cite). Take the drive out, attach it to a USB to IDE adaptor, and plug it into a more modern machine. OSX or Linux should be able to handle the HFS filesystem, no problem.
posted by toxic at 4:50 PM on January 3, 2010

Also, you'll need a Torx T-8 screwdriver to open the case. Here's a service manual with full directions.
posted by toxic at 4:52 PM on January 3, 2010

Removing the drive is what I'd do, but the adapter toxic linked probably won't do it alone -- you'll likely need another adapter for small-form IDE to normal-size IDE.
posted by neckro23 at 5:07 PM on January 3, 2010

I'd use an IDE to USB adaptor for that job, and plug the USB end into a current Mac (or a PC running Linux). Windows will not understand what to do with a HFS-formatted drive.
posted by flabdablet at 5:07 PM on January 3, 2010

I wouldn't open the case unless you really have to. It's not pleasant, or easy.

You probably don't have to, either. There are plenty of ways to get the files off.

1. Floppy. This is by far the easiest, unless you have files larger than 1.44mb you want to get off. Put them on floppy, buy a USB Mac-compatible floppy drive and hook it up to the Mac. They'll mount and be read fine. I've done this before.

2. AppleTalk (good thing you're on 10.4). LocalTalk cable into the PowerBook; Farrallon EtherTalk box on the other end, ethernet into the Mac, mount OS X Mac as server on Powerbook, and copy away.

3. SCSI. The PB 150 supports SCSI disk mode, which is like the old-school version of target disk mode. Get a cable for that, and a SCSI-USB cable and the Mac will mount on the MacBook.

4. Ethernet. Find someone with a pre-iMac-era Mac, that has both ethernet and localtalk. Hook the PowerBook up to that, copy the files to that, then connect it to the MacBook, and copy the files off.

5. Internet. Is there a built-in modem? If the port is there, next to the square SCSI port, there is. Alternatively, old Mac modems are cheap as chips on eBay. Get one of them, hook up to dialup, and FTP those files somewhere modern. This is slow, though, and if you don't have the System 7 TCP/IP control panels installed, forget it.

Good luck, too.
posted by bonaldi at 5:12 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

The adaptor I linked to includes both 40 (3.5" and 5.25") and 44 (2.5") IDE connectors (and SATA, too). It should plug into your drive without an additional adaptor.
posted by toxic at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2010

(Ack, you're right, toxic.)
posted by neckro23 at 9:07 PM on January 3, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks! I'm not particularly excited about the thought of transferring 70MB in increments of 1.44MB, although it's good to know it can be done. (Funny thing is, most of those files were on floppies to begin with, and I copied them all onto the PB to consolidate. ::sigh::)

I've certainly taken apart my share of computers (mostly desktop PCs), and mr. epersonae thinks we may already have an adapter for the small size IDE connector, maybe even an enclosure.

I'm going to dig through the tech drawers, and track down a T8 (smallest we have is a T10), then see if I can get it set up that way.
posted by epersonae at 9:40 PM on January 3, 2010

One last comment on HFS: Your Mac OS X 10.4 computer will have no problems reading an HFS volume. In fact, even Snow Leopard will still read from HFS formatted drives, but no longer has support for writing to HFS volumes, only HFS+.
posted by metacollin at 2:41 AM on January 4, 2010

Do you have a multi-port router available on your network? I used to move files back-and-forth between my old PowerCenter 150 (running Mac OS 8.1) and my G5 (OSX 10.3.9) They were both connected to my home network via a Netgear router. I just enabled File Sharing and things worked just fine. You will probably have to designate a shared folder on the Powerbook and move everything into that but, otherwise, it should work.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:17 AM on January 4, 2010

I've used an instant messenger (pick your favorite flavor) more than once to move files between otherwise incompatible computers. If your Powerbook will connect to a network, establishing an IM session, dropping a big zip file onto a messenger window and putting your feet up for a little while might be the simplest way to do it.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 8:51 AM on January 4, 2010

I would be very surprised if any IM client that can run in his ancient OS would work.

I know that Yahoo, for instance, does not allow any of their older Mac clients to log onto their IM network. And the current Yahoo client doesn't run on anything older than 10.4. Heck, on my old G5 running 10.3.9, I had to resort to using Yahoo's web-based messenger when the versions of Yahoo IM and Adium that worked on the G5 stopped being able to log-in the Yahoo network.

I can't think of what other IM clients were available for Mac back in the time of that Powerbook. MSN? ICQ? AOL? And, again, I have to wonder if the client versions that might be able to run on the Powerbook would still be compatible with the networks.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:24 AM on January 4, 2010

Honestly, if you could connect to the Internet to run an IM client, than there would be a million better ways to get the files off the machine. (Like FTP'ing to the mac running OSX.) I have a Powerbook 5300CS sitting on mails from Claris Emailer I want to get back. I have yet to figure out a good way to do this. I suspect disk-mode via a SCSI cable would be the least intrusive and easy, but you need the cable and a computer that still has a SCSI card.
posted by chunking express at 7:41 AM on January 6, 2010

« Older If you like Orhan Pamuk....   |   Love or loves? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.