Vintage Macintosh: Networking Success!

After applying upgrades, and doing a bunch of reading, I finally have my Macintosh SE/30 connected to TCP/IP and able to access the Internet. I’m still working on getting something else working to make my “modern-vintage” bridge a two-way affair. But having FTP access is a big step forward.

History and Motivation

It has been a long time since I’ve had to put a pre-OS X Macintosh onto a TCP/IP network. Setting up AppleTalk is trivial: get some Farallon PhoneNET connectors, some phone cable and boom, one AppleTalk network. Being able to share data between machines without needing to swap floppies back and forth, or the single AppleCD 300 around, is definitely a step forward.

But these machines are isolated from the Internet and the rest of my modern equipment. With a CD, I can at least get data from a modern Mac to a vintage Macintosh, and I’m building a fairly healthy library of vintage software (including install CDs for old versions of the System software). But at some point my goal is to build software on these vintage machines, particularly software to help with maintenance and curation. I would like to make that software available to others who have vintage Macintosh collections. That means I have to get data (applications, files, disk images) from my vintage machines back to the modern world.

With my SE/30 having FTP access, I can at least put data up on my FTP server to get it into the modern world. It isn’t ideal, but it’s a start. What’s my goal? To get a Macintosh emulator called Basilisk II connected to my SE/30 via AppleTalk over Ethernet using AppleShare. Since the emulator has access to my local disk on my MacBook, it would be far easier to transfer data back and forth, and to avoid the need for FTP.

How It Worked For Me

My SE/30 is running System 7.5.3 (and when I get the disk upgrade installed, I’ll be moving it to 7.5.5), which includes Open Transport. Using Classic Networking and MacTCP didn’t seem to be doing the trick. By switching to Open Transport (using the Network Selector utility in the Apple Extras folder), I was able to put my SE/30 on my Ethernet network. DHCP appears to work with no problem, so you don’t have to futz about with netmasks, gateway addresses and DNS server addresses if you don’t want to.

In theory, if you have a Macintosh running System 7.0 or 6.x, you should be able to get this working using MacTCP. The only “issue” is that you might have to a bit of bitwise arithmetic, unless you enter the IP address on the very first screen of the Network control panel. The detailed dialog for entering your IP assumes a 32-bit value and doesn’t support dotted-notation for your fixed IP. I’m not sure that “dynamic” IP addresses work (because it predates DHC; RARP and BOOTP were all the rage at the time System 6 got optional TCP/IP support).

Starting with System 7.1, Apple started to include Open Transport as an option. There is the Apple Internet Connection Kit available for download (macintoshgarden.org has it), but I haven’t tried it yet. System 6 machines are probably stuck with MacTCP for Internet access.

What was fortunate for me is that the Ethernet card in my SE/30 appears to work with standard Apple drivers. At one point, I was concerned that the TCP/IP elements weren’t working because of the possibility that the Ethernet card required special drivers. Fortunately, that was not the case, but I believe that moving to 7.5 was required to make that work (Apple apparently upgraded their drivers for Ethernet cards in 7.5 as Ethernet became more common).

To get access to FTP, I’m using NSCA Telnet 2.6, which includes an option to open FTP sessions. I tried MacTelnet 3, but it crashed immediately when running on 7.5.3. You might also try using FTP via a browser (I have NetScape 3.0.4 working, although it really doesn’t like modern JavaScript), but NSCA Telnet seems to work adequately.

Next Steps

I have two goals. First is to get a version of the System working on Basilisk II that will connect over EtherTalk to the SE/30 so that AppleShare will work. That allows easier sharing of data and avoiding the FTP server. This makes it easier and more convenient to share data with the vintage world.

The next is to get the Apple IP Gateway going on the SE/30 so it can act as a router between AppleTalk devices, allowing them access to the Internet as well. That is a lower-priority item at the moment, but something that would be nice to have in the future.

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