Apple Gives its Macintosh a Hard Disk
By Peter H. Lewis
The New York Times
October 8, 1985
APPLE has finally introduced its own hard disk drive for the Macintosh, the aptly named Hard Disk 20 (it holds 20 megabytes - 20 million characters - of data, roughly the equivalent of 12,000 double-spaced, typewritten pages). That may seem a lot, but hard disks work just like attics: as more space becomes available, more junk materializes to fill it.
The need for such storage space for the Macintosh was recognized long ago by everyone except Apple, it seems, and about a dozen brands of hard disks for the Macintosh are now on the market. So, Apple is in the odd position of hopping on its own bandwagon.
Until now, adding a hard disk to the Macintosh without Apple's imprimatur has seemed slightly naughty. In fact, it was only recently that Apple agreed to honor warranties of Macintoshes that had been ''fixed'' with a HyperDrive internal hard disk from General Computer.
Now the competition is open, and here is how Apple will stack up when it reaches the stores after Christmas.
At 20 megabytes, the Apple Hard Disk 20 (list price $1,495) holds the equivalent of about 50 regular Macintosh 3 1/2-inch floppy disks, and operates twice as fast as the floppy disk drive. (As General Computer says, the Macintosh may be user-friendly, but it is a bit slow in expressing its affection.) Few people regret not having to juggle 50 floppy disks.
The unit, which sits directly under the Macintosh and does not take up any additional desk space, plugs directly into the disk drive port. It comes with special software that organizes (''partitions'') the vast storage space easily and uses the familiar little file-folder pictures (''icons'') to keep related files together. There is even an expansion slot on the back of the unit where another hard disk, floppy disk or tape backup system can be attached.
MacWorld, a magazine devoted to the Macintosh, recently test drove four competing hard disks - the Quark QC10, General Computer's HyperDrive, Iomega's Bernoulli Box and Tecmar's updated MacDrive.
The HyperDrive ($2,195 for 512K Macs from General Computer, 215 First Street, Cambridge, Mass. 02142, telephone 617-492-5500) is installed inside the Macintosh and plugged straight into the computer's brain, making it the fastest hard disk available. It was found to be easy to use, even doing double duty as a print spooler, allowing the Mac to do other things while a document is being printed. Its password and file scrambling security systems are impressive. It sneered at a torture test. The MacWorld reviewer, Jim Heid, said, ''It's the happiest marriage of the Macintosh and a hard disk I've seen yet.''
MacDrive ($1,995 from Tecmar Inc., 6225 Cochran Road, Solon, Ohio 44139, telephone 216-349-0600) was one of the first entries in the field, and had its share of problems. Now it has been improved, and the new MacDrive is faster and more convenient to use. It also doubles as a print spooler. Its backup facilities are not as flashy as the HyperDrive's, meaning that while it is a good choice, it remains a bridesmaid to the internal model.
The QC10 ($1,295 from Quark Peripherals Inc., 2525 West Evans, No. 220, Denver, Colo. 80219, telephone 303-934-2211) got bad marks because of its murky documentation and software that makes it difficult to back up and restore files. On the other hand, it has good built-in security to keep out data snoops, and it is relatively quick.
The Bernoulli Box ($1,995 from the Iomega Corporation, 1821 West 4000 South, Roy, Utah 84067, telephone 800-778-3000) is not really a hard disk, but rather a ''crashless'' high-speed, high-density floppy disk encased in a cartridge. Because the cartridges (about $60 each) can be removed, they offer the transportability of floppies, while matching the capacity of hard disks. But the Bernoulli Box was slow and its organizing of the disk data was relatively inflexible.
The hard disk drive resolves one of the Macintosh's speed problems. Another was addressed earlier this year when Apple improved its ''Finder'' software. If the old Finder was a drag, the new one is a dragster, allowing files to be loaded and ejected much more quickly. The early Finder was so slow that the prospect of adding a hard disk, with hundreds of new files, should have spurred a resurgence in sales of goose quills and inkwells. The new Finder greatly improves the Mac's use of hard disks.
Now comes Switcher, a program that has been circulating through Macintosh user groups for several months. Apple used the user groups to test the program and exterminate its bugs, and now the company is formally announcing it.
Switcher ($19.95 from Apple dealers, available later this month) lets owners of 512K Macintoshes create their own integrated software packages and jump from one part to another almost instantly. For example, while using MacWrite to write a report, the user clicks the mouse input device, moves instantly to, say, the Excel spreadsheet, then to a communications program to send a message, and back to the report, without waiting for the computer to end one application and begin another. No more will the user stare at the obnoxious little wristwatch icon that signals a long wait.
Copyright 1985 The New York Times Company