Tidbits: Classic Memory Upgrade + SoftPC Update

After six months of trying to upgrade the memory in the Classic, I was finally successful.

The fellow 68kMLA forum member who recapped the logic board in my 1991 Macintosh Classic back in May sent a bunch of goodies with the repaired board, including some diskettes containing popular period games and software and an ADB keyboard and mouse. He also sent a memory expansion kit that would allow me to upgrade the Classic’s RAM from the stock 2 MB to the maximum 4 MB.

The memory upgrade kit, which has two 1 MB SIMMs to bring the Macintosh Classic to it’s maximum 4 MB.

Back in May, I tried to install the memory expansion kit but had a few problems. The SIMMs felt loose and would often fall out before I reinstalled the expansion card back into the computer. Other times the SIMMs would stay tight in their socket, but the computer would display garbage momentarily before going to a blank screen after powering it on.

I thought the SIMMs were damaged. After all, back in May I accidentally dropped them when trying to install them.

However, after being inspired by an Action Retro video early this morning at 2 a.m., I popped the bucket off the Classic and tried one more time before going to bed.

This time, I figured it out. I had the ultimate “DUH!” moment when I discovered I was grossly overcomplicating the matter. I found the SIMMs snap into the plastic retainer, something I didn’t see before.

The Classic’s memory expansion card. The Classic has 1 MB soldered directly to the logic board. The higher-end $1500 model (such as mine) had a memory expansion card included with an additional 1 MB soldered to it, and two SIMM slots for upgrading the machine to it’s maximum of 4 MB.

I powered on the machine and… YES! The SIMMs work perfectly, as the “About this Macintosh” window reports 4,096 KB of memory installed.

The “About This Macintosh” window now shows 4,096 KB of installed memory.

Despite the memory upgrade, the computer doesn’t feel any different. Even System 7.1 (which I’m using while writing this) doesn’t feel much different. Then again, I haven’t yet tested any memory-demanding applications such as PageMaker or FreeHand.

However, I did test one application that I wasn’t able to before due to the lack of memory.

SoftPC 2.5 Universal

Back in December, I wrote an entire post trying to get SoftPC to work on the Classic as my contribution to DOScember. After trying many different versions, I wasn’t very successful in trying to get it to run. Many versions required a Motorola 68020 or better in the processing department, whereas my Classic only has a 68000.

Then, someone on Reddit, posted a link to a sketchy Google Sites page containing a download for SoftPC 2.5 Universal – a version that claimed to be tailored toward standard, 68000-equipped machines like the Plus, SE, and Classic.

I installed SoftPC 2.5 Universal in Mini vMac, where it worked. (Past attempts with other versions didn’t work.) However, SoftPC 2.5 Universal presented an issue: while it would run on a 68000 Mac, it appeared to need at least 4 MB of memory installed to run.

SoftPC 2.5 Universal ran fine in Mini vMac, but I couldn’t test it on my Classic at the time due to memory limitations

However, now that I have the full 4 MB installed in the Classic, I was finally able to test it out on actual hardware.

SoftPC 2.5 Universal running in System 7.1 on the 1991 Macintosh Classic

The rumors of SoftPC being slow were not wrong – it is really slow. It took 5-10 minutes to initalize the emulated C: drive for the emulated PC. You can watch the computer draw the text in the emulated PC. 

A demonstration of a directory listing using SoftPC on the 1991 Macintosh Classic in System 7.1.

It runs DOS (specifically MS-DOS 3.30) “fine.” However, I still haven’t figured out how to load files and software into SoftPC for emulation. You can load files through a floppy, however I don’t have a vintage PC to format a DOS disk to test with.

So, as with the Mini vMac attempt, this is where my SoftPC adventure ends. Maybe this December I can figure it all out and provide an actual post for DOScember 2021.

Post written on the 1991 Macintosh Classic using Microsoft Word 4.0. (Written while running System 7.1.)