Difference between revisions of "Macintosh IIsi"

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Coming in at just over one third of the price of its predecessor, the IIsi was not only cheaper, it was also smaller and had the distinct advantage of including on board video. At first glance, this all looked as though it was positive, but savings don't come for free and Apple had to make some serious cutbacks to get the IIsi on the shelves for under $4,000.
 
Coming in at just over one third of the price of its predecessor, the IIsi was not only cheaper, it was also smaller and had the distinct advantage of including on board video. At first glance, this all looked as though it was positive, but savings don't come for free and Apple had to make some serious cutbacks to get the IIsi on the shelves for under $4,000.
  
The IIfx had been a speed demon. Even the [[Macintosh IIci|IIci]] had pushed the boundaries and was rated as the fastest Mac when it was released. Yet the IIsi ignored both of them and throttled the ever dependable Motorola 68030 back to a more modest 20 MHz. If this had been the only change then it wouldn't have been as bad, but it was actually only the first of many changes. The 68030 might have been slowed down, but the 68882 floating point unit (FPU) was ditched altogether. It could be added but it needed to occupy an expansion slot. Actually it needed to occupy ''the'' expansion slot, as the IIsi came equipped with just a single slot and it wasn't even of the NuBus variety. Adopting the PDS slot used in the [[Macintosh SE/30|SE/30]], the IIsi was suddenly very limited when it came to expansion — even more so when users realised that as the IIsi ran at 20 MHz and the [[Macintosh SE/30|SE/30]] at 16 MHz, many of the cards designed for the [[Macintosh SE/30|SE/30]] wouldn't actually work anyway. A PDS to NuBus adapter helped, but it was hardly the greatest of solutions.
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The IIfx had been a speed demon. Even the [[Macintosh IIci|IIci]] had pushed the boundaries and was rated as the fastest Mac when it was released. Yet the IIsi ignored both of them and throttled the ever dependable Motorola 68030 back to a more modest 20 MHz. If this had been the only change then it wouldn't have been as bad, but it was actually only the first of many changes. The 68030 might have been slowed down, but the 68882 floating point unit (FPU) was ditched altogether. It could be added but it needed to occupy an expansion slot. Actually it needed to occupy ''the'' expansion slot, as the IIsi came equipped with just a single slot and it wasn't even of the NuBus variety. Adopting the PDS slot used in the [[Macintosh SE/30|SE/30]], the IIsi was suddenly very limited when it came to expansion — even more so when users realised that as the IIsi ran at 20 MHz and the [[Macintosh SE/30|SE/30]] at 16 MHz, many of the cards designed for the [[Macintosh SE/30|SE/30]] wouldn't actually work anyway. A PDS to NuBus adapter helped, but it was hardly the greatest of solutions. At least the adapters contain the FPU built-in.
  
 
With so much of the custom hardware designed for the [[Macintosh IIfx|IIfx]] having been jettisoned, the IIsi relied far more on 'stock' technology and the expensive 64 pin SIMMs were replaced with the standard 30 pin variety (even if the number of slots was reduced to four, allowing the machine to have a maximum of 64 MiB added on top of the 1 MiB soldered directly onto the motherboard — still more than enough for most users). Apple had learned some lessons from its previous members of the Mac II family, and the IIsi came with on board graphics which saved users having to shell out for a dedicated graphics card. Yet even here Apple cut corners, opting to adopt the 'leeching' method used in the IIci — where memory from the main system was 'stolen' rather than set aside in some form of dedicated video memory.
 
With so much of the custom hardware designed for the [[Macintosh IIfx|IIfx]] having been jettisoned, the IIsi relied far more on 'stock' technology and the expensive 64 pin SIMMs were replaced with the standard 30 pin variety (even if the number of slots was reduced to four, allowing the machine to have a maximum of 64 MiB added on top of the 1 MiB soldered directly onto the motherboard — still more than enough for most users). Apple had learned some lessons from its previous members of the Mac II family, and the IIsi came with on board graphics which saved users having to shell out for a dedicated graphics card. Yet even here Apple cut corners, opting to adopt the 'leeching' method used in the IIci — where memory from the main system was 'stolen' rather than set aside in some form of dedicated video memory.

Revision as of 02:47, 10 June 2010

Macintosh IIsi.jpg
IIsi
CPU: 20 MHz Motorola MC68030
RAM Type:30-pin SIMM
Maximum RAM: 65 MiB
Expansion slots: 030-PDS
Supported OS: System 6.0.6 - Mac OS 7.6.1
A/UX 2.0.1 - 3.1.1
Introduced:October 15 1990
Discontinued:March 15 1993
MSRP:$3769 (US)
Full Specifications


After the excess of the Mac IIfx, Apple realised that not every user could afford to spend almost $10,000 on a machine and released what it believed was a product with far greater appeal - the Macintosh IIsi.

History

The Macintosh IIfx had pushed the limits of technology and was the fastest Mac the world had ever seen. It had also pushed the wallets of most buyers and Apple soon realised that having a killer 40 MHz machine was all well and good but by carrying a price tag of nearly $10,000, it was beyond the budget of most users. The solution was to create a new machine that not only offered the all important fruit logo but didn't cost the Earth. That machine was the Macintosh IIsi; a machine that was either a work of genius or the work of Satan, depending on your viewpoint.

Coming in at just over one third of the price of its predecessor, the IIsi was not only cheaper, it was also smaller and had the distinct advantage of including on board video. At first glance, this all looked as though it was positive, but savings don't come for free and Apple had to make some serious cutbacks to get the IIsi on the shelves for under $4,000.

The IIfx had been a speed demon. Even the IIci had pushed the boundaries and was rated as the fastest Mac when it was released. Yet the IIsi ignored both of them and throttled the ever dependable Motorola 68030 back to a more modest 20 MHz. If this had been the only change then it wouldn't have been as bad, but it was actually only the first of many changes. The 68030 might have been slowed down, but the 68882 floating point unit (FPU) was ditched altogether. It could be added but it needed to occupy an expansion slot. Actually it needed to occupy the expansion slot, as the IIsi came equipped with just a single slot and it wasn't even of the NuBus variety. Adopting the PDS slot used in the SE/30, the IIsi was suddenly very limited when it came to expansion — even more so when users realised that as the IIsi ran at 20 MHz and the SE/30 at 16 MHz, many of the cards designed for the SE/30 wouldn't actually work anyway. A PDS to NuBus adapter helped, but it was hardly the greatest of solutions. At least the adapters contain the FPU built-in.

With so much of the custom hardware designed for the IIfx having been jettisoned, the IIsi relied far more on 'stock' technology and the expensive 64 pin SIMMs were replaced with the standard 30 pin variety (even if the number of slots was reduced to four, allowing the machine to have a maximum of 64 MiB added on top of the 1 MiB soldered directly onto the motherboard — still more than enough for most users). Apple had learned some lessons from its previous members of the Mac II family, and the IIsi came with on board graphics which saved users having to shell out for a dedicated graphics card. Yet even here Apple cut corners, opting to adopt the 'leeching' method used in the IIci — where memory from the main system was 'stolen' rather than set aside in some form of dedicated video memory.

The IIsi was a decent machine but it wasn't the machine that it could have been; especially when it transpired that it was originally designed as a 25 MHz machine. Apple reduced its speed to 20MHz to avoid cutting into IIci sales. (N.B. In this instance it is perfectly safe to over-clock the machine to 25 MHz).

The IIsi came with a number of distinctions. Firstly, it was the only Mac where the case was never re-used in another model (basically a taller version of the "pizzabox" enclosure of the LC series); secondly it was the Mac that had its price dropped frequently during its lifetime (from $3769 to $969 in just 29 months); and third it was the first Mac to allow audio input via the built-in microphone jack.

Full Specifications

  • General
    • CPU: 20 MHz Motorola MC68030
    • ROM: 512 KiB
    • Bus Speed: 20 MHz
    • Data Path: 32-bit
    • RAM Type: 30-pin SIMM (120 ns)
    • Standard RAM: 1 MiB
    • RAM Onboard: None
    • RAM Slots: 4
    • Maximum RAM: 65 MiB
    • Cache: ½ KiB (L1)
  • I/O & Expansion
    • ADB: 2
    • Serial: 2
    • SCSI: 1 (DB-25)
    • Floppy Connector: 1
    • Audio In: 8-bit mono (mini-jack)
    • Audio Out: 8-bit stereo 22 KHz (mini-jack)
    • Built-in Speaker: Mono
    • PDS Slot Type: 030
  • Storage
    • Hard Drive: 40 MiB - 80 MiB
    • Hard Drive Type: SCSI
    • Floppy Drive: One 1.44 MiB SuperDrive
  • Video
    • Max Resolution: 512×384, 640×480 (8-bit), 640×870 (4-bit)
    • Standard VRAM: 0
    • VRAM Onboard: 0
    • VRAM Slots: 0
    • Maximum VRAM: 0
    • Video Out: DB-15
  • Miscellaneous
    • Apple Model Number: M0360
    • Codename: Oceanic, Ray Ban, Erickson, Raffica, Raffika, Spin
    • Gestalt ID: 10
    • Power: 160W
    • PRAM Battery: 3.6V Lithium
    • Case Style: Macintosh IIsi
    • Dimensions: 12.4" x 14.9" x 4.0" (W x D x H)
    • Weight: 10 lbs.
    • Mac OS Support: System 6.0.6 - Mac OS 7.6.1
    • A/UX Support: 2.0.1 - 3.1.1
    • Introduced: October 15 1990
    • Introduced: March 15 1993
    • MSRP: $3769 (US)

More Information