ClassicMac blog postings

ClassicMac Postings - Page 1

Earliest: June 9, 2020Latest: June 30, 2020Total: 4
June 30, 2020

Sony Digital 8

One of the things that I liked to do with my PowerMac G4 series desktop computers was to digitalize VHS tapes. In the early 2000s, it wasn't easy to connect a VHS player to a Macintosh computer.

Fortunately for me, I just happen to own a Sony DCR-TRV720 Digital Video Camera Recorder. This camera has an RCA input and a Firewire (iLink) output. This means that I could use the camera as a bridge to get video into my Macintosh from a VHS player.

This diagram shows how I was able to get video into the computer.

TRV720 Mac Layout

I still have the Sony DCR-TRV720 Digital Video Camera and still use it every once in a while to get video into the computer. It won't work with the newest iMac Computers - as they don't have a Firewire port. Sure I could get a USB-C to Firewire adapter but I don't think it's worth spending $29 for the few times that I would use it. In addition, I think using a dongle Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter could impact the video quality.

I am better off just firing up the old G4 computer and doing the converting and transferring it to my desktop to do any Final Cut Pro editing.

Five Things I Learned

  1. The Sony DCR-TRV720 Digital Video Camera is a good video camera but only captures video in 720 dpi - not useful when most videos today are in 1080p format.
  2. The digital bridge works when I have the camera set up as VTR mode and have a tape in the digital camera. Not exactly sure why this is the case, but it's the only way I got it to work.
  3. To play the VHS tapes, I used a JVC Stereo Video Cassette Recorder HR-VP673U. Which was a pretty good system at the time. I have never had an issue with VHS tapes breaking or playing back in poor quality. I still have this on my home desk today! (Hidden but still on my desk!) You can find it on ebay for about $65.
  4. I found that BTV was the best application to view and capture video. The application instantly found the video from the Firewire port. Ben Software has discontinued the application. They have an alternative solution called SwiftCapture which provides many of the same features. Since I am using an old computer - I can still use the BTV.
  5. The camera still comes in handy today. I still use it every once in a while to get VHS recordings to DVDs or YouTube. Some friends have asked to convert old home movies so they could watch them again.
June 23, 2020

SCSI Hard Drives

Back in the day, if you got a Mac, your computer had a SCSI hard drive. For many years it was the only hard drive option that the Mac supported.

S C S I_ Desktop
S C S I_ Mobile

Fun Facts about SCSI Drives

SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) is a fast reliable storage solution.

For external SCSI drives, you need to make sure they had to have a SCSI termination.

They were more expensive than the IDE drives and had less storage space. Basically you're paying more per MB.

My Power Mac G4 400 Series (M7891LL/A) had SCSI support on the Motherboard. (72GB Ultra160 SCSI (10K rpm))

I still have several of these drives in my basement. Unfortunately, I don't have any means to read them on the latest iMacs. Ideally, I would have to get my old PowerMac G4 up and running to access whatever data I stored on the drives.

June 16, 2020

Iomega Zip Disks

Back in the late 1990s I was doing a lot of multimedia work and needed some storage solution. CDs and DVDs weren't a viable solution since the disks were still expensive. Plus burning a CD was so permanent. If I made some changes then I would have to create a new CD.

iomega Era

I started buying Zip disks at Fry's Electronics as a solution to my storage. The 100 MB in size was perfect for my needs. At the time, I was thinking that I could just get a bunch of disks and just organize my collection.

Zip Disk Desktop
Zip Disk Mobile

Zip Disks - Awesome Idea

I got disks for work, audio files, games, mail back up and website content.

It was so easy to organize the disks and change the content whenever I needed it.

The disks were strong enough to carry around in my office bag - even though there was no need to since I didn't have a zip drive at work. But still, it was sturdy and strong that I didn't really have to worry about them.

Iomega started making color zip disks. Now things got cool. Now I could have red disks for my important documents - yellow disk for images and green disks for work (green for money!)

CDs Era

In the 2000s data CDs and DVDs became more affordable. That's when I decided to make the switch. My first data CD was made in 1997 - and I still have that disk.

CDs became more of a fun storage device. They actually held more data - 700 MB vs the 100 MB in a zip disk. I figured that I could get more creative about what I should be backing up. In addition, I could be creative and create colorful labels.

Re-Writable CDs were a thing, but I didn't really see the need for that. Using a CD as a simple backup solution was all I needed. There wasn't a need to constantly rewrite files on to a CD.

DVDs Era

Not long after - DVDs became more popular for me. They hold a lot more data - 4.7 GB. They are just as easy to burn. In addition, media prices were coming down. Places like MeritLine were selling unwrap spindles for around $50.

They were a great solution for backing up work files and my personal audio collection.

Zip Disks

Its been a long time since I took out my external zip drive and plugged it into one of my old computers. The drive was a SCSI format, which is long outdated to today's computers.

The last time I connected the drive to a computer, I heard the dreaded "click of death."

Iomega Click of Death

"Click of Death" is the term for the distinctive sound that a Zip drive's read head makes when it becomes misaligned and cannot read a Zip disk. The sound is caused by the head repeatedly hitting the end of its range in an ineffectual attempt to find the first track of the disk.

Looks like the drive I have is no longer good. The good news is that it doesn't mean that the disks that I have are bad. I simply have to get a new drive to read some of the data I have on my old zip disks.

Iomega Drives

People are selling Iomega zip drives on Amazon for $279! Wow! Are you serious? Why would anyone want to pay that much for a legacy system?

There are places on eBay that are selling them for around $90 - still a bit pricy in my opinion but a bit reasonable. The only problem with these is that there's no guarantee that you won't end up getting the click of death.

If you do buy one of these drives, just remember that they may not work on the latest macOS. I would recommend trying them on a much older system.

June 9, 2020

Classic Mac Posts

This is the start of a new series on blog - Classic Macintosh. Over the next eight week's I'll be featuring some of the classic applications and hardware around Apple's Macintosh computer.

These will be items that I have in my collection. For the most part, these are just collecting dust in the attic and basement.

Let's kick off the series with Firewire, a technology that I enjoyed using for many years.

Firewire G3 Desktop

Picture of my G3 Desktop in my basement.

Firewire G3 Mobile

Picture of my G3 Desktop in my basement.


Firewire was first introduced to the public with the introduction of Apple G3 B&W Desktop.

Here's a promotion that ran during MacWorld San Francisco in 1999. The promo was called, "The Look of Love."

After the promo ran, Steve Jobs went on to explain the FireWire technology and why everyone will want to embrace the technology.

Cool Technology

I really like the FireWire technology - also called IEEE 1394. I purchased several external disk drives using the Firewire port because it was a faster way to store data.

I also purchased a video camera - Sony DCR-TRV720 - simply because it had a FireWire port. (More on this in a future blog post.)

End of Firewire

After 13-years Apple decided to pull the plug and move to the more popular open-source USB3 solution. It made sense since it was faster and there were a lot more devices supporting it.

Firewire first met its demise in 2012 when Apple released the new 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. It was the first product to feature USB3 instead of Firewire. The writing was on the wall for anyone with Firewire devices.