Plugging a 1986 Mac Plus into the modern Web
March 23, 2015 4:21 AM   Subscribe

Kernelmag's Jeff Keacher documents connecting his old Macintosh Plus to the World Wibe Web, courtesy of a Raspberry Pi and a bunch of software to remove all those pesky <div>s and such. posted by thegears (23 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow. That's impressive. Pointless but impressive.
posted by octothorpe at 4:38 AM on March 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Here's a 1981-era zx81 hooked up to the "web". Alan Cox is working on a new OS for them, too.
posted by Poldo at 4:47 AM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of using HyperCard and boggling my own mind by imagining the possibilities that would be inherent in being able to link to a stack on someone else's machine.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:06 AM on March 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Pointless? Perhaps not.

I've been thinking about an idea that popped out of an earlier thread, that vintage computer equipment may be more secure against data interception than new stuff. A lot less capable, but a lot harder to infect with malware or trojan horse hardware. This led to some back-of-the-envelope sketches (actually, resurrection of some ideas from the 1980s that I was working on back then) for secure text and speech systems.

It's actually quite workable. No magic anti-spy fairy-dust, but it does move one particular bit of the secure communications chain effectively out of reach of most of the current approaches.
posted by Devonian at 5:22 AM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


We did this in 1989 with a Mac SE. We were the local usenet node.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:21 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of using my C64 to dial up the university's telnet server around 1999 and using Lynx and Pine to do some web browsing and email checking. Not because it was the best way to do it (not by a looooong shot), but just 'cos it seemed like a fun thing to do (and more importantly, because I had found a Commie 300 baud modem cheap at a yard sale). I approve.
posted by barnacles at 6:25 AM on March 23, 2015


Also, if we ever see road-warrior style industrial collapse, things like a tandy100 laptop run on AA batteries, and have components inside you can actually repair and replace by hand.
posted by idiopath at 8:16 AM on March 23, 2015


(^ I, for one, hedge all my bets against this possible societal outcome. Improbable? Yes. More fun? Most certainly.)
posted by LooseFilter at 8:29 AM on March 23, 2015


if we ever see road-warrior style industrial collapse, things like a tandy100 laptop run on AA batteries

It's fun to imagine blasting through post-apocalyptic wastelands in vintage 1970s muscle cars. Our sad and probable reality is a lot more difficult to confront.

Bacteria-mat jerky will be our primary food source, the only remaining footwear will be plastic Crocs that take ten million years to decompose, and the world's most extensive music library will be a collection of two dozen MIDI files played nightly through the tinny speakers on a busted-ass Tandy. Muscle cars will be valuable mainly as a source of old tires, which are used to resole our Crocs.
posted by compartment at 8:59 AM on March 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


the only remaining footwear will be plastic Crocs

*puts gun in mouth*
posted by entropicamericana at 9:19 AM on March 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, if we ever see road-warrior style industrial collapse, things like a tandy100 laptop run on AA batteries, and have components inside you can actually repair and replace by hand.

But What would you do with it?
posted by librosegretti at 10:05 AM on March 23, 2015


Connect to another computer via modem, use the silly built in db for storing information, connect it to hardware as a programmable controller (they are still popular for this, because they have no air vents for sucking up dust and are more tolerant of extreme environments than most laptops made since).
posted by idiopath at 10:17 AM on March 23, 2015


It should be pointed out that this was only possible because Keacher was able to use a modern computer on an actively-developed platform to mediate between the internet of today and a thirty-year-old computer. He was also lucky to already have a non-standard piece of software on the Mac Plus that allowed him to send files over the serial port.

Older internet nerds sometimes brag to one another about how their personal web sites are viewable over Lynx, but usually they mean “the version of Lynx that is on my machine right now,” not “a web browser that was in use in 1996.” Name-based virtual hosting, for instance, relies on HTTP 1.1, which didn’t exist until 1999. Lynx ignores JS and CSS, but it still gets updated to support cookies and HTTPS and whatnot. It’s primitive, but it’s not ancient.

The web is backwards-compatible (new browsers can view old stuff just fine) but it has never been forward-compatible (old browsers can view new stuff just fine), since the latter falls on individual web sites to care about. Most of them don’t.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:18 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


No magic anti-spy fairy-dust, but it does move one particular bit of the secure communications chain effectively out of reach of most of the current approaches.

But, to the extent that that is true, wouldn't it cease to be so very rapidly if any appreciable number of people actually started using this approach?
posted by yoink at 10:55 AM on March 23, 2015


Was MacWeb really the only web browser that would run under System 7? I seem to recall versions of iCab that would run on pretty old systems…
posted by Ampersand692 at 11:29 AM on March 23, 2015


If we wanted to max out performance here, rather than going over serial proper, it should be possible to hack up some little SBC to talk LocalTalk to the Mac, serve files via Netatalk (as I recall the package name) and even pull TCP/IP out of its LocalTalk encapsulation for service to the internet. It is even possible to upclock the LocalTalk interface from ~ 256kbps toward (but not quite to) 1mbps. That's not fast, but it's probably more than the computer needs.
posted by wotsac at 12:04 PM on March 23, 2015


We did this in 1989 with a Mac SE. We were the local usenet node.

Yes, I remember dialling into the university modem bank from my SE/30 + US Robotics modem in the early 90s; mostly for quick calls to slurp down email and Usenet for offline reading/replies. Much the same software configuration as he uses, System 7 + MacTCP + MacPPP. MacPPP always did have the feeling of only just about working, but it usually did.

I can't remember if I ever did WWW over it. I have no memory of MacWeb; if anything, I probably would have been using the Mac version of NCSA Mosaic, which Wikipedia says came out in September 1993.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:10 PM on March 23, 2015


Was MacWeb really the only web browser that would run under System 7?

NCSA Mosaic 1.0.3 did indeed run on System 7: "should function on all types of Macintoshes, including the SE and the Classic."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:18 PM on March 23, 2015


Netscape also runs under System 7, but I think it might need 7.5. I ran it on my Powerbook 160, for sure.
posted by bonaldi at 3:20 PM on March 23, 2015


Re: the using obscure/obsolete tech angle, didn't the kidnapper in the Natascha Kampusch case use a C=64? I recall reading it required specialist forensic attention.

Anyhow, I love this sort of pointless, geeky, for-the-love-of-it stuff. Someone famously hooked up an Atari 2600 webserver too. I'd fish out a link but my smartphone is being dim.
posted by comealongpole at 4:56 PM on March 23, 2015


Not bad. Not bad. But how about a 1981 ti-99/4a that can access the internet?
posted by fimbulvetr at 5:49 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, anything that can emulate a vt100 terminal can access the internet for some definition of access. I'm
posted by wotsac at 10:59 PM on March 23, 2015


Well, anything that can emulate a vt100 terminal can access the internet for some definition of access. I'm

buffering?
posted by Sebmojo at 11:41 PM on March 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


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