Macintosh II

From 68kMLA Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
CPU: 16 MHz Motorola MC68020
FPU:Motorola MC68881 (optional)
RAM Type:30-pin SIMM
Maximum RAM: 20 MiB (68 MiB with FDHD upgrade)
Expansion slots: 6 NuBus
Supported OS: System 4.1/Finder 5.5 - System 7.5.5
Introduced:March 2 1987
Discontinued:January 15 1990
MSRP:$3900 or $5500 with HD (US)
Full Specifications

Released in 1987, the Macintosh II was Apple's first non-all-in-one (AIO) Macintosh, offering better expansion options, faster processing and a direct competitor to the IBM PC.


The Mac had been part of the computing world for over three years and just about everyone who came into contact with the little machine instantly fell in love with it. It was funky, it was powerful and, most of all, it was fun. What it wasn't, however, was perfect; and the Mac's biggest flaw was its expansion options - or, rather, lack thereof. There was also another problem that Apple were struggling to overcome and that was the one of respect as, faced with the IBM PC, many still considered the Mac as something of a toy rather than a 'real' machine. The solution was to, literally, take the Mac apart.

Ever since January 24th 1984 (and even up to a year earlier than the Lisa is included), the Mac had been an all-in-one machine which was typified by its built-in 9" screen. It made the machine easy to set up, reduced the number of cables lying around and was a nice, self-contained solution. It did have its limitations, though, and power users soon found the size of the screen to be too restrictive, the AIO design stopped any form of expansion and having an external hard drive (available with the Mac Plus), while an option, was messy. The solution was to follow the path that most of the other desktop manufacturers were taking and create a more modular system with an external monitor and a base unit, allowing plenty of room for expansion. The result was the Macintosh II.

Launched alongside the Mac SE, the Mac II was more than just a re-configuring of existing system elements, and Apple made sure that the Mac II offered far more than the little SE (which Apple generally liked to treat as being the low-mid end machine and the Mac II as being the high end machine). The venerable Motorola 68000 was replaced with the new 68020 and the clock speed was switched from 8 MHz to a mighty 16 MHz - double the speed as well as the extra features offered by the new chip. The Mac II did stick with 30 pin SIMMs but eight slots meant that it could be expanded from 1 MiB all the way up to 68 MiB, even if Apple did opt for proprietary PAL RAM (although users could install standard SIMMs up to 4 MiB in size).

Compared to the all-in-one Macs, the Mac II was cavernous inside and this allowed users to add not only a hard drive (up to 5.25" in size - the optional 40 MiB drive would push the basic price from $3900 up to $5500) and up to two 3.5" floppy drives, but also up to six NuBus expansion cards. In terms of speed, the Mac II was a powerhouse when compared to its AIO cousins; but by lacking any sort of on board video hardware it meant that users not only had to buy the machine itself but then had to buy a graphics card as well. This may have pushed the price up, but it did allow the Mac II to go where no Mac had gone before: colour. This in itself caused headaches as Macintosh System Software had never been designed to support colour - even the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the menu bar was monochrome. It wasn't only colour that was an advantage, as being able to upgrade the graphics card meant that users could not only dabble in the colour world but also work at higher resolutions and on bigger screens.

There were quirks and niggles, though, that went beyond the decision not to include a graphics card. The PRAM battery was soldered directly to the motherboard which meant, theoretically, once the battery died, the machine had to be either scrapped or sent away for repair (although users quickly learned how to effect that repair themselves), the memory was expensive, the ROM contained remnants of older 24-bit code (resulting in it being deemed 'dirty' - the Mode32 system extension software will fix this problem) and the floppy drives were both of the 800 KiB variety. However, the Mac II was released before Apple made the switch to the 1.44 MiB floppy drive.

Given the expansion and power that the Mac II offered, it was already an impressive machine but, by sticking to the same operating system and underlying instruction set, it could take advantage of the existing software catalogue that had been created since the release of the Mac 128 in 1984 - this was a time when the concept of creating an ongoing series of machines was still a novel concept. Apple had certainly learned from not only the likes of Lisa and the Apple ///, but also the IBM PC; and in the Macintosh II it had a machine that business simply had to take seriously.

Full Specifications

  • General
    • CPU: 16 MHz Motorola MC68020
    • FPU: Motorola MC68881 (optional)
    • ROM: 256 KiB
    • Bus Speed: 16 MHz
    • Data Path: 32-bit (dirty)
    • RAM Type: 30-pin SIMM (130 ns)
    • Standard RAM: 1 MiB
    • RAM Onboard: None
    • RAM Slots: 8
    • Maximum RAM: 20 MiB (68 MiB with FDHD upgrade)
    • Cache: ¼ kiB (L1)
  • I/O & Expansion
    • ADB: 2
    • Serial: 2
    • SCSI: 1 (DB-25)
    • Floppy Connector: 1
    • Audio Out: 8-bit stereo (mini-jack)
    • Built-in Speaker: Mono
    • NuBus Slots: 6
  • Storage
    • Hard Drive: 40 MiB / 80 MiB
    • Hard Drive Type: SCSI
    • Floppy Drive: One or two 800 KiB 3.5" (one 1.44 MiB SuperDrive with FDHD upgrade)
  • Miscellaneous
    • Apple Model Number: M5000
    • Codename: Little Big Mac, Milwaukee, Ikki, Cabernet, Reno, Becks, Paris, Uzi
    • Gestalt ID: 6
    • Power: 240W
    • PRAM Battery: 2x 3.6V Lithium
    • Case Style: Macintosh II
    • Dimensions: 18.7" x 14.4" x 5.5" (W x D x H)
    • Weight: 24 lbs.
    • Mac OS Support: System 4.1/Finder 5.5 - System 7.5.5
    • Introduced: March 2 1987
    • Introduced: January 15 1990
    • MSRP: $3900 or $5500 with HD (US)
    • Startup Chime: Fileicon-mp3-small.png Play (File Info)
    • Death Chime: Fileicon-mp3-small.png Play (File Info)

More Information