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Thread: Mac SE Floppy Disk Search

  1. #1

    Default Mac SE Floppy Disk Search

    Hey guys!

    I'm an amateur when it comes to vintage computers but the other day I came across a Mac SE at a yard sale and voilą, it is now mine. When I turn it on it says it needs a floppy disk (symbol of a floppy disk with a flashing X appears; there is no floppy disk inside already). Despite being able to find numerous disks online, I don't know which types are compatible with the macintosh nor which to buy. A note inside the case that the computer came with said it needs a 1.4mb floppy disk--taking the assumption that this is correct, I still don't know what types are compatible. Can anyone help? Thanks!

    -IceF1ame

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Cleveland, OH, USA
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    718

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    Assuming the SE has a 1.4 floppy disk drive you would need to acquire an operating system, such as OS 6.8 or 7.x, which was contemporary with this machine. You will also need some extra floppies on which to make copies.

    Pre-formatted 3.5 inch disks carrying a copy of the OS can be purchased from http://www.operatorheadgap.com/, among others, for a reasonable price. You can find spare 3.5 inch floppy disks on eBay.

    Eventually it will make a difference whether your machine has an 800k ("DSDD") drive or a 1.4Mb ("DSHD") drive because the disk drives are made to use different disks. That is to say, the electronics of the higher-density disk drives write "skinnier" tracks and rely on a different composition of recordable media on the disk to accomplish this task. Generally high-density drives can read the lower-density DSDD disks if they have been recorded by a lower-density drive, but can't be relied on to write to them.

    Although your case may say what kind of drive is installed it would be useful at some point to check for yourself by looking at the markings on your floppy drive itself. After all, someone may have substituted another drive some time in the past 40 years.

    Keep us posted with your progress, and good luck.

    -CH-

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IceF1ame View Post
    A note inside the case that the computer came with said it needs a 1.4mb floppy disk--taking the assumption that this is correct, I still don't know what types are compatible. Can anyone help? Thanks!
    You can buy just about any type of 3.5" disk, either High Density or Double-Density. DD disks will probably be labeled as 720K. That's fine, they will format as 800K on the Macintosh. Sony is a reliable brand. Very few Sony disks have failed in my experience.

    We can assume that 1.4MB disk note is correct. But to be on the safe side, I would get a double-sided boot disk for your Mac SE.

  4. #4

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    @DFinnigan and @clh333 , would this work? The specs on the Mac say 1mb RAM, 800k Drive, 20SC Hard Disk (I'll let you guys tell me what to do with that information). Also, CHL, I found that site a bit confusing to navigate--do I just email those people and ask for a quote? Also what do you mean exactly by operating system, is it not separate from the floppy disk and in the computer already..? Thanks you guys, I'm a big amaetur at this.

    -IceF1ame

  5. Default

    A big innovation of the Macintosh was that a large chunk of the operating system is in ROM firmware-- this includes device drivers, icons, utility subroutines, and GUI routines for managing windows, menus, and icons.

    However, what's in ROM doesn't make a complete operating system! To allow for updates, localization, and other improvements, you still need to boot from a disk which contains a System file a Finder file too which gives you the Macintosh desktop. What's on the disk supplements what's in ROM to give you the complete operating system for Macintosh.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Cleveland, OH, USA
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    718

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    If your Mac had a usable operating system on board it would not need to prompt you to insert a disk. You may have a hard disk inside but it may not be operating properly or it may not have an operating system installed on it. That's the piece that's missing, and simply inserting [just any] disk won't solve that problem. So, you're going to need a specially-prepared disk (3.5-inch floppy) that has the remainder of the operating system already copied onto it. With that the disk prompt goes away and (hopefully) the desktop appears. Then the operating system is fully loaded and operational.

    You could download a version of the operating system for free from various web sites out there, but you would need a way to transfer that information onto a Macintosh-formatted floppy disk (again, 3.5 inch). Without an operable Macintosh that's hard to do. Another option would be to find a friend / co-worker / local user group and ask them to perform this task for you. The third option is to acquire prepared disks from a company such as operatorheadgap.com. Send them an email [service@biz.headgap.com] and explain that you have a foundling Mac and need set of floppy disks with OS6 or OS7 to get started. They'll quote you a price including shipping.

    A clip of the pertinent info on their site appears below. Note the stock numbers.

    -CH-

    OHSite.jpg

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