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Vectronic's Macintosh IIci

Blue Arrow Archives Section:  Macintosh Collection Archive

Vectronic's Collections (New Site):  Macintosh IIci

Originally Published:  Mar. 22, 2004

Apple introduced the Macintosh IIci on September 20, 1989 as a replacement for the Macintosh IIcx. Both computers share the same box-like form factor. The IIci has a 25 MHz 68030 processor with a 68882 FPU. The IIci originally cost around $6,500 (up to $8,800 with an 80 MB hard drive and other options). I purchased my IIci in 2003 for $25.

(Click) Macworld 1990 ad for the IIci.
(wow - look at those prices!)

The IIci shipped with either a 40 MB or 80 MB internal hard drive. It also has a built-in 1.4 MB floppy disk drive. When I originally took the photos for this page, my IIci had a 500 MB internal hard drive that vibrated like a washing machine and sounded like a freight train. It was at the end of its useful life; so I replaced it with a nice, quiet 4 GB hard drive. I took the occasion to give the IIci a good thorough cleaning, inside and out. Click the link below to view the process of dismantling a IIci.

  Read: Taking apart a Macintosh IIci

The IIci has three NuBus expansion slots, a ROM SIMM slot, and a cache slot. The IIci was the first Mac to have clean 32-bit ROMs. My IIci has a 32K level 2 cache card installed. This became standard on later production runs, but there are quite a few IIci's in circulation without this card. The cache card significantly increases processor performance. The cache card is installed in the cache slot. Most IIci accelerators are installed in the very same slot.

Macintosh IIci Cache Card

The Macintosh IIci has the following ports: two ADB ports, one DB-15 video port, one DB-25 SCSI port, one DB-19 drive port, one serial printer port, one serial modem port, and one speaker jack. The IIci does not have a microphone port. The IIci employs "soft power", so it is possible to use the power button on the keyboard to turn it on.

Macintosh IIci ports

The IIci has a maximum RAM of 128 MB. My IIci has 12 MB of RAM. There is a total of 8 RAM slots and RAM must be installed in groups of four. The IIci does not have any RAM built into the motherboard. If you purchase an old IIci and find that it won't boot, first check the RAM. You must have RAM installed or the IIci will not boot.

The IIci originally shipped with Mac OS 6.0.4, but Apple intended the IIci to be a System 7 machine. System 6 cannot take full advantage of the IIci's clean 32-bit ROMs that make virtual memory and 32-bit addressing possible with System 7. The IIci supports up to Mac OS 7.6.1, the last version of System 7. Before I changed out the hard drive, my IIci used Mac OS 7.0.1. The hard drive now in my IIci uses Mac OS 7.6.1. The IIci handles it very well. I haven't noticed any degradation in system performance using 7.6.1.

"About This Macintosh" Mac OS 7.0.1

Click to view screen capture 1 - Desktop 1 (Mac OS 7.0.1)
Click to view screen capture 2 - Desktop 2 (Mac OS 7.0.1)

"About This Computer" Mac OS 7.6.1

Click to view screen capture 1 - Desktop 1 (Mac OS 7.6.1)
Click to view screen capture 2 - Monitor Control Panel (Mac OS 7.6.1)
Click to view screen capture 3 - Memory Control Panel (Mac OS 7.6.1)

The IIci is the first box and monitor Mac (not an all in one) to have onboard graphics for an external display. The Macintosh II, IIx, IIfx, and IIcx all require a NuBus card to drive their monitors. This freed one NuBus slot, but since the built-in graphics uses system RAM (vampire RAM) to drive the external monitor, many preferred to add a NuBus card to reclaim the memory. 64K-320K of system RAM is used for the video function if the system does not have a monitor card. My IIci has a SuperMac video card installed, capable of generating 24-bit graphics at 640 x 480, producing million of colors. Without the card, the IIci is only capable of 8-bit graphics at 640 x 480. Since having more available RAM means having a faster system, adding a graphics card became a popular way to increase system performance.

SuperMac video card

The IIci was very popular in the early 1990s until it was totally eclipsed by the Quadras and later the Power Macs. The IIci is a great addition to any Mac collection. It is very easy to work on and very easy to upgrade and it provides plenty of power to run 68K software. Vectromania

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