PowerBook 180 Becomes More Usable

2010-January-18

Yesterday, Megan and I went ahead and took a trip down to Kingman with a modest car-full of stuff that I have been wanting to remove from the room. Among the things were two computers in the "zone of old computer suck" and a variety of things including some peripherals and a whole lot of paper-type products that I don't need or want around anymore. One of the things that does indeed tend to happen to me is I decide for whatever reason that I really need or want something out of my storage area to come with me to my dorm. This particular time, I am fairly proud of myself as I was able to minimize this.

Rather than bringing a different pair of computers to replace the two I put into storage, or even a single machine, I decided to make the only things that came back to the school with me be a bag of brand new socks, about which I was incredibly excited because I've been wanting to buy new socks, along with a curious little piece of computer goodness, an Asae Micro EN/SCSC. This particular little device is great because it happens to be very small, and it adds a fairly significant amount of functionality to one computer I have around.

The computer in question is Mortimer, my Apple Macintosh PowerBook 180. It was new in 1993 or 1994 and it has a 33MHz Motorola MC68030 processor in it, along with 14 megabytes of memory and a 120 megabyte hard disk. The '030 processor is fairly modest by today's standards, with most if not all moern cellular telephones containing more powerful computing hardware, but in 1993, it was a formibable chip, especially when considering that it was in a mobile computer. The Asante Micro EN/SC is a SCSI ethernet adapter that provides the machine with, well, ethernet. I was able to transfer the drivers and some TCP software to the machine with AppleTalk over the serial port, and now have both AppleTalk and TCP/IP going in and out of the machine over SCSI. I installed Netscape Navigator 3 and Internet Explorer 4, but I think my favorite application for this system is working out to be MacSSH.

For a system with such modest processing horsepower, I was somewhat worried that it might be a hardship to handle an SSH connection, but when I dropped the SSH connection from SSH2 to SSH1, it was able to manage just fine. The system is running a bit warm, which I suspect simply means that SSH is indeed using a lot of the system's resources.

I do have other 68k Macs in the storage locker, if it weren't such a hardship to bust some of them out and use them, I would definitely be interested in seeing how some of the other systems handle. I can imagine the most interesting of the systems being the Macintosh LC, which has merely a 16MHz '020 processor and 10 megabytes of memory. I can imagine that the lack of an FPU would also make a difference in the performance of an SSH session.

Depending on the types of things I can now do with the PowerBook 180 now that it has a quick, TCP-capable network connection, I may or may not swap it with tacgnol as the bed-computer. Most of what I do at the bed computer is just open an SSH session to flatdell anyway, so having tacgnol available somewhere else may be useful, that or I can put it away for a bit, in order just to have more computational variety.

For now, I'm mainly using Mortimer (the PowerBook 180) as an SSH client to flatdell which is nice becaues the monochrome screen is actually very readable indeed, and the keyboard is really quite nice.