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Getting a 27-year-old Mac Plus onto the web


Released in early 1986 with a whopping 8 MHz processor and 4 MB of RAM, the Mac Plus doesn't have the makings of a machine meant to browse the web. But that didn't stop Jeff Keacher from amping up his trusty 27-year-old Mac Plus in an effort to get it up and running on the modern-day internet.

With fascinating and precise detail, Keacher describes the inherent and head-scratching hurdles that arise when trying to modernize a computer that was released during the Reagan administration. In doing so, Keacher takes us down memory lane to a time when the Mac OS was still categorized by a single digit.

To accomplish my goal, I needed a web browser, a TCP/IP stack, and some way to connect the Mac to my home network.

The web browser was relatively easy to find thanks to guys running long-forgotten FTP sites in the dusty corners of the internet. MacWeb 2.0 was both old enough to run on my Plus and new enough to render HTML and speak HTTP. Sort of. But we'll get to that in a minute.


Getting the Mac physically hooked to the network was a bigger challenge. The Mac Plus didn't have an Ethernet port, and things like WiFi were years from being invented when it was manufactured. A couple of companies made SCSI-to-Ethernet adapters about 15 years ago, but those were rare and expensive. I thought about the problem for a while, and it occurred to me that I could channel the early days again: I could use the serial port and PPP or SLIP to bridge to the outside world. Like dialup without the modem.

With a little bit of coding, along with some software and hardware tinkering, Keacher was impressively able to get his Mac Plus up on the web. You can check out the full details behind his efforts over here. It's well worth checking out, if only to see how contemporary websites render on such an old machine.

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