Filling gaps: Starting to Archive some Apple Legacy

At Freiburg the software archive has been extended: The abandoned system disks and documentation of Mac OS 7 from 1991 is a good start for a non-X86 branch of operating systems and applications. As the data survey in Archives New Zealand and the legacy of research institutions demonstrate, there is demand for other original software environments. Such operating systems are a crucial component for access through an original environment centered paradigm.

Interestingly, the original installation media of 3.5″ 1.44 MB diskettes was in very good shape: When read with a brand-new floppy drive on a Linux machine using only the dd block imaging tool, there was a 100% reading success rate. This is surprisingly good for 20-year-old media. Nevertheless, there was other material on 3.5″ double density media which could not be read that way at all. There are comparable by physical format but not by the recording method to the 720 kB PC floppies. So media obsolescence definitely becomes an issue for software that old.

Up to now we could not test if those floppy disk images install well on one type of MAC emulator or another. But a student project is currently looking more closely at this platform, especially the Motorola 68XXX processor family. In addition to the operating system, a Math Lab software package from 1993 was added to the collection. Unfortunately some other rather domain-specific software remains un-migrated as yet, as there are no proper means available for media transfer. Nevertheless, much core software of the Motorola and later PowerPC Apple Macintosh platform is still missing, especially all the relevant text processing, spread sheet, design, drawing and graphics manipulation products, which set the standards in certain respects in their time. Here it would be good to have a better overview of the actual holdings of the memory institutions, companies, and individuals.

There is good news for this platform though: Different to other operating system vendors some but not all older versions are directly available from the Apple homepage for download. The disk images of version 7.0.1 and 7.5.3 could be downloaded in different localizations.

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