Macs, AppleTalk, and FTP
The Mac 512K has always interested me. It was basically identical to the Mac 128k, the only difference being the RAM. However, that RAM difference opened it up to a few things that 128K couldn’t do. One of those things was file sharing on a AppleShare network. Granted, it was only as a client, but still the door was open....
There are some pretty esoteric ways to tunnel IP through LocalTalk cables, but the problem is the dearth of IP software that will run on a Mac 512K. You’re looking at telnet and FTP clients. Early versions of NCSA Telnet supposedly would run on a 512K (using a KIP server at a University or other establishment to tunnel IP through LocalTalk) and also featured a little FTP server. I experimented with later releases on Macs with ethernet (I don’t have a KIP server or GatorBox handy), and was never able to connect to NCSA Telnet running FTP server unless it was another Mac running NCSA Telnet FTP client. It seems to be console based only. All major FTP clients for the Mac and iPhone failed to display the directory contents. I couldn’t even connect with the Terminal in OS X. That, combined with the need for unusual equipment and an uncertainly that it would even run on a 512K, ruled out NCSA Telnet. This link seems to back my last statement up.
That left me assured that the only way I was going to get a Mac 512K out the the modern world would be to start with AppleTalk and bridge it with another Mac and change protocols. Either send it forward with AppleShare over TCP/IP, or FTP. To do this presented some challenges as well. First, peer to peer AppleTalk file sharing didn’t show up in the Mac OS till System 7, and the Mac 512K can’t run System 7. Before that time, Apple sold separate AppleShare server software, but even version 1.x required a Mac Plus. Whatever AppleTalk server software I was going to run on the 512K had to be AppleShare compliant. In other words, you had to be able to mount it as a disk on the bridge Mac’s desktop. Many of those pre-System 7 file serving apps used AppleTalk, but weren’t AppleShare compliant. Apps like Public Folder and Oscar and JC Remote required their software on both ends to transfer a file. Others that were compliant, like Single Share and All Share required System 6, and were extremely unstable in my tests. This would not meet my needs.
As it would turn out, dumb luck would strike. I was reading about some of those pre-System 7 AppleTalk server options on Gamba’s page when I noticed one called EasyShare. What struck me right away was it’s low system requirements. It only needed System 3.2 and Finder 5.1. And it’s memory requirements were very low, under 100k. My first thought was that even a 128K could meet those requirements, (more on that later) though I knew deep down there was no way. Still, I was pretty confident that I had just stumbled upon a big piece of the 512K puzzle. The link on Gamba’s page to download this demo was dead, and I looked around on the web for 2 years before finding a place to download it. (Thanks Dog Cow!) Turns out, this thing works like a champ!
OK, so we’ve got the 512K serving files to my bridge computer, a PowerBook G3 (WallStreet). How do we send the 512K’s network share forward? One thing that’s always bugged me about AppleShare is that you can’t “share a share”. In other words, when you choose your disk to share, it has to be a logical disk. Hard drives, Zip drives, optical media, USB flash drives are all good, but not a mounted network share. Most third party server apps won’t let you do this either, as most of them tie into Apple’s User’s and Groups. Open Door Networks makes a great product called ShareWay IP, and the Standard and Pro (not Personal) versions let you take a legacy AppleShare (AppleTalk) server and serve out from a bridge Mac as AppleShare over TCP/IP. However, your legacy server must be AppleShare 2.1 or higher. This means System 7.5.3 or higher (although you can use the File Sharing Extension from 7.5.3 all the way back to 7.0 and it works!). Either way, the Mac 512k can’t run System 7, so that idea is out the door.
The solution is Rumpus, a FTP server from Maxum. This software is very powerful, and Maxum still makes a Mac OS X version of it today. The version I’m using is 3.5, the last flavor that ran on the Classic Mac OS. What’s really cool about Rumpus is that you can bypass Apple’s Users and Groups, and use Rumpus’ built in security. When configured this way, you can choose a mounted network share as your root FTP folder. In other words, the Mac 512K that is mounted on my PowerBook’s desktop can be carried forward as a FTP share to the world.
My videos shows some of the things you can do with a 512K once you have this setup going. I was surprised how well everything works. Please watch them if you haven’t yet, they are more exciting than reading this!
There are a few items I want to discuss before closing. First, based on some testing a friend did for me on a stock Mac 512K (64K ROM), it looks like EasyShare requires The 128K ROM of the Mac 512Ke. This is the model I purchased and used in the video. While it’s a little disappointing, it didn’t really change any of the challenges I mentioned above. I have a copy of EasyShare here, and I’d like anybody with a stock Mac 512K to give it a whirl and see if you can make it work. One thing to consider; An AppleShare client will not mount a MFS floppy, so if you’re using a stock Mac 512K, you’ll have to use the HD20 INIT and share an external 800 disk, or the HD20 itself.
If anyone was to try it with a Mac 128K, it would have to be a Mac 128Ke, for the reasons mentioned above, and the fact that it can’t load the HD20 INIT. I actually had one of these years ago, and could kick myself for ever getting rid of it. The other big problem (besides memory of course) is that, despite what the Read Me files says, I couldn’t get EasyShare to run on anything less that System 4.1, which a Mac 128K/Mac 128Ke can’t run.