Relay-Version: version B 2.10 5/3/83; site utzoo.UUCP
Subject: Mac II
Date: Thu, 12-Feb-87 17:34:50 EST
Posted: Thu Feb 12 17:34:50 1987
Date-Received: Fri, 13-Feb-87 23:18:34 EST
Reply-To: mar...@weyl.Berkeley.EDU (Matthew Marcus)
Organization: Math Dept. UC Berkeley
Mac II First Look
... a report from
the MacInTouch newsletter
PO Box 786
Framingham, MA 01701
copyright 1987, Ford-LePage, Inc.
All rights reserved.
is a first peek at Apple's Mac II computer, due to
be announced the first week in March. The Mac II is the "Open
Mac" known also as the "Paris." Its heart is a 68020 CPU and
its spine a 6-slot, 32-bit Nubus. High-resolution monitors can display
detailed color, gray, or black and white images.
Hardware the Box
The basic box is somewhat like an IBM PC system unit,
although the box will probably be plastic with metal RFI shielding on
the inside like the Hard Disk 20SC. The top lifts off for access.
Inside, there's a power supply and (loud?) fan on the left side,
with two standard 3-prong connectors (like the Mac's) for AC power.
Next to the power supply/fan is the 6-slot Nubus in the middle. The
Nubus connectors have a lot of pins in a small connector; it's
unique, and unlike other card slots such as the IBM PC's or DEC
VAX's. There is room for large (13"?) cards, running from the
front of the computer to the back. A video card takes up one slot.
There are six holes in the rear of the box for connections to the cards.
On the right side the motherboard and a little speaker are on the
bottom. There were 2MB of RAM onboard, but we couldn't really see
how the board was laid out without disassembling things. From Excel we
deduced that a 68881 numeric coprocessor was installed. Above, on a
shelf hiding the motherboard, are two floppy drives in the front and a
hard disk in the back. In the back of the motherboard are two standard
Mac Plus serial ports, a SCSI port, a sound port and two desktop bus
ports (one used for the Apple IIGS keyboard and mouse). The fan on the
left pulls air in from vents on the right (over the motherboard) and
vents in the back (behind the disks).
Keyboard and mouse
Other keyboards will probably be optional, but we used the IIGS
keyboard and mouse. They were nice in comparison to the Mac's
equivalents. The mouse's teflon pads made it glide more easily, and
we liked the action and lower profile of the IIGS keyboard. The mouse
plugs into the keyboard and the keyboard plugs into one of the desktop
bus ports. One noticable difference is how the cursor acts when a disk
is contending with the mouse for CPU time. It's more "jumpy"
on the Mac II than on the Mac.
We used a high-resolution color monitor with about 640 x 480 pixel,
72 dot/inch resolution. With no real color applications to run, we used
it in black- and-white mode, where it was nicer than a Mac screen,
because of the extra size and equivalent detail. If you enable color,
the Apple symbol above the desk accessory menu turns into the
rainbow-colored Apple logo. With gray-scaling enabled, the logo is
shown in shades of gray.
Where's the off switch?
The power is turned on from a switch on the keyboard. It is turned
off by selecting "Shut Down" from the Finder menu. There is also
a reset switch in the back which sometimes shuts off power when the
keyboard switch doesn't work. On the right side are the same
interrupt and restart switches the Mac has on the left. If all else
fails, you pull the plug out of the wall.
We were unable to get either of two external SCSI drives to work, but
this is probably not due to the architecture, but to something we
didn't understand or a hardware bug. The internal hard disk was
connected via SCSI.
We printed successfully to a LaserWriter over AppleTalk. (The new
Laser Prep required reinitializing the LaserWriter.)
We used standard 800K Macintosh disks with no problems.
The operating system in use was Finder 5.4/System 3.3. We also ran
System 3.2/Finder 5.3 for a short time without any problems. The new
Finder has some interesting features, such as a trashcan that bulges
when there's something in it, and a watch cursor whose hands move
while you're waiting.
The major changes noticable in the system software are a new control
panel and a desk accessory for choosing among video cards. The new
control panel desk accessory lets you scroll through a set of different
panel modules, each of which controls a part of the system. A sound
panel lets you choose from a wide variety of sounds for Mac
"beeps." (We could not test this.) Other modules let you choose
color (1, 2, 4 or 8 color bits, or gray) and the startup disk.
There are new icons in the alert dialogs, replacing the old
The computer is as fast as you've heard, two to four times faster
than a Macintosh Plus. You really notice it when you use a cache or RAM
disk -- there seems to be less of a balance between CPU and disk
access with the Mac II -- it's the disk that holds it back, not the
CPU. You also notice a great speed increase in screen drawing
operations, in programs ranging from the Finder to MacDraw and
We tried a lot of applications quickly, looking for major bombs, not
subtle problems. Applications varied from instantly crashing to
exhibiting bizarre behaviour after a few operations to running
beautifully much faster than on a normal Mac. We did not have a modem
for testing telecommunications programs or a MIDI interface for testing
Overall, application compatibility seemed similar to, or a little
worse than, last year's HFS compatibility problems. The ROMs we saw
were probably not final, and the ones that come with production models
may be a little more compatible, but probably not a lot more. A lot of
developers (including Apple) are going to have to clean up their
programs to work correctly on the Mac II.
We've listed the applications we tested in categories according to
the extent of testing and the results. No programs were tested
extensively. Macsbug was running during all tests.
no major problems noticed in basic functionality tests
says "using math chip" in About Excel dialog
HFS Backup 2.0
Actually did a Selected-Files backup without any trouble.
Moving icons in information box zoomed at super speed.
no problems noticed in application startup and quit
Disk First Aid
Omnis 3 Plus
Red Ryder 9.4
can't use extra size of screen for window
serious errors during operation
Downhill Racer game
DiskFit beta test version
Opcode Sequencer 1.02
Word 3.00 beta
Cricket Draw gives a message saying it's only compatible with 128K
ROMs and quits to the Finder.
These tests are "quick and dirty" but should give you some idea
of the speed of the Mac II. The Mac Plus comparisons were done using a
Mac Plus running System 3.2, with 2.5MB of RAM, and a fast DataFrame
XP40 external SCSI disk.
Word 1.05/no cache
launch Word from internal hard disk: 4.5 sec.
(Mac Plus: 6.5 sec.)
PackIt III/1MB cache/SCSI disk
time to pack Excel 1.03 with compression: 2:02
(Mac Plus: 7:19)
MacDraw/1MB cache/SCSI disk
open MacDraw: 7.5 sec.
(Mac Plus: 15 sec.)
quit to Finder: 5 sec.
(Mac Plus: 6 sec.)
open MacDraw: 3 sec.
(Mac Plus: 11 sec.)
quit to Finder: 1.5 sec.
(Mac Plus: 5.5 sec.)
This is a very impressive machine. It has the speed. It has the
flexibility and expandability (with the Nubus and desktop bus and SCSI
ports). It has the compatibility (although many developers will have to
clean up their programs). It has color. But it's not portable !