What is a Mac IIci?
The Macintosh IIci. An incredibly versatile workhorse of a different
era. The Mac IIci was a powerful, cutting-edge, expandable computer
in a small, easily accessible case. It's based on a 25 MHz 68030 processor
and includes such cutting edge (in 1989) features as a paged-memory
manager, floating-point processor, 32-bit system bus and 32 bit clean
ROMs. It also came with built-in video and stereo audio. It's production
life-span was from September 1989 to February 1993; 3.5 years is unheard
of these days. When it debuted, it's cost was between $6,000 and $8,000!
Partially due to its generous expandability (for a Mac, anyway) and
partially due to the large numbers of this unit made, there is a plethora
of parts, add-ons and upgrades available. For complete specs, see the
Spec Sheet or Low
How expandable is it?
The IIci has 3 Nubus card slots, a processor direct slot (PDS), and
a ROM simm slot, as well as the usual array of Mac ports around back.
The Nubus slots support serial cards, ethernet, audio, video capture
and display, scsi, laboratory instrument input/output and others. The
PDS is reserved for Photoshop accelerator cards, level-2 cache, and
central processor upgrades. The ability to upgrade the processor was
what originally attracted me to the IIci - '030, '040 and even PowerPC
processor cards are available. The ROM simm slot was never implemented
(too bad). When I started looking for an inexpensive Mac that would
survive the ever increasing demands of Microsoft Word versions for several
years, the IIci was the bargain choice!
How does it perform these days?
Well, it's actually finally beginning to show it's age ;-). This is
the oldest Mac which can run 7.6. MacOS 8 or 9 will not function on
it (MacOS 8 will work with some Sonnet and Daystar accelerator cards
and with a certain program).
Still, running 7.5.5, it multitasks better than most Windoze boxes.
I am continually amazed at how many tough jobs it can do at once. I've
downloaded, unStuffed, copied and worked on graphics all at the same
time. 7.5.5 is very stable except while running a web browser with Java
turned on. Otherwise, it tends to run most modern programs (provided
there's a 68k version), just a little, or a lot, slowly. Most games
which aren't shareware are beyond it's capability.
Keeping in the same spirit of affordability and expandability, the
Macintosh IIci was followed by the Centris/Quadra 650, an 040 machine,
and the newer PPC 7300/7500/7600/8500. These "G2"or PCI series
Macs are an incredible bargain - some are selling for little over
these days, and the CPU can be replaced with the most state-of-the-art
PPC G4. In fact, I superceded (not replaced!) my IIci with a PPC 8500.
Another atractive option is the Umax Supermac S900. It was produced
during a time when Apple was licensing its hardware designs and ROMs
to clone makers. The S900 has 6 PCI slots, a large tower case and several
unique features. 3 PCI slots just doesn't seem like enough to some
so 6 slot Macs are a prize (the S900 is much cheaper than similar Apple
Flashing question mark
This indicates that the computer could not find a valid
system file. It searches (in order) the floppy drive, the hard drive,
and any external SCSI devices (CD-ROM, etc.). If there is a working
internal hard drive or some other device, it may be that there is no
System folder, or that it has become corrupted. Find a Disk Tools floppy
disk or a Network Access disk (available
for free from Apple's website) and boot from that.
Where do I buy an older MacOS?
If you really want to purchase MacOS 7.5 or 7.6, try
some of the stores on the Links page and eBay.
Apple provides MacOS
7.5.3 and some older versions for free on its website. Download
and install 7.5.3, then download and run the 7.5.5
What are the capabilities of the internal
The IIci's internal video can drive a single-scan (a.k.a.
fixed resolution; sync on green) monitor at 640x480 pixels with 8-bit
color (256 colors). It can also drive a mono single-page display. The
video circuitry uses up to 1 MB of RAM in Bank A as video memory (VRAM).
This means that there must always be memory in Bank A, and it is best
to leave the smallest SIMMs in this bank to speed up video performance.
Can I use a PC monitor?
Any PC monitor manufactured within the past 8-10 years
is likely to be multisync, which the Mac IIci cannot drive. PC monitors
also use a different 15-pin connector, making it incompatible with the
IIci. However, there are adapters which will overcome both limitations.
Griffin Technology, among
other companies, sells these adapters.
Can I use a new Apple monitor?
New Apple monitors are multisync, which is incompatible
with the IIci's video circuitry. Adapters are available though (see
What sorts of video cards can/should
It depends on what you need to do with your IIci. If you
just want to speed up your video, add 24-bit color (millions of colors)
and abillity to drive multiscan monitors at high resolutions, I recommend
the Radius PrecisionColor cards. I recommend these because I've used
them, they work error-free and they're fast. Supermac, RasterOps and
E-Machines produced competing cards during the same time. Many of these
cards are just as good. Check the Upgrades
page for more video card details.
What is this video card?
Check the Upgrades page to help you identify many third
party video cards. "Gamba" also has a great
chart with many Apple and
third-party cards, drivers, etc.
Power Supply Problems
My IIci won't start up (no chime)
or My IIci starts up but then immediately turns off again.
First of all, verify that the keyboard power switch is
not faulty. The easiest way to do this is to start up the computer using
the power switch in the back. Make sure that the switch is not turned
to the "server" position (this will restart the machine in
the event that there is a power outage). The keyboard doesn't even have
to be plugged in.
There is a known issue with IIci power supplies. This
involves the +5 V trickle that is present even when the computer is
off (but plugged in). Over time, the charge dwindles down to 0 Volts,
making it impossible to start up. The usual symptoms for this problem
are "clicking" sounds from the power supply, or a startup
chime followed by nothing or shutdown.
There are a couple of fixes that may or may not make the
power supply last:
Digest 13 #138 item 34 (Volume 13 & 14 are missing from all the archives
I could find. If anyone has a link, please email me).
From comp.sys.mac.hardware newsgroup, Wed., 16 Dec 1998:
Subject: Re: IIci & IIx power supplies
>RE the posting:
<< Does anyone know if these 2 supplies are compatible, I need to replace
the [IIc]x power supply and I may be able to get a [II]ci supply. The
main problem is that the computer does not turn on.>>
Before you buy a new power supply, try this: Get ahold of
a cheap "power strip" with an on/off switch. Plug the IIcx into the
power strip. When the IIcx is off, leave the power strip switch in the
OFF position. When you're ready to boot up, reach down and flip the
power strip on. Wait a few seconds, and press the keyboard power-on
button. When it's time to shut down the computer, go through the normal
shutdown procedure. After the IIcx "turns itself off", reach down and
flip the power strip to OFF. Try this - you may be VERY pleasantly surprised
with the results...
The theory is that the +5 V charge is still there briefly
when you send current to the power supply. If you can start up the Mac
quickly enough, you won't need the trickle charge while it's running.
Many people have asked me if I have a schematic for the
power supply - I don't. Please send me one if you have it so I may
post it on this site. Jan van Gennip did send some instructions (PDF)
on how he repaired an Aztec power supply - thanks Jan.
I believe there are at least two makes of power supplies
for the IIci, G.E. and Aztec. Mine is a G.E. and I haven't had a problem
with it since I got it 5 years ago. Luckily, power supplies for the
IIci are only around $15.
We had a lightning strike and my IIci
wasn't plugged into a power strip. Where is the fuse?
There is a sticker on the back of the IIci that mentions
a fuse. Unfortunately, this seems to be a mistake. I don't have a fuse
in my IIci and others I've spoken to report the same. If you have a
fuse, please let me know (and what brand of power supply you have).
Your only recourse is to purchase a new (used) power supply.