Mac users: I need a boot disk for my Mac SE

I just bought a Macintosh SE at a yard sale for $5. It won’t boot up. But the internet is a marvelous thing, and according to this page, I need a boot disk. And there’s a way to make one, too. But:

I’ve tried to do this as described in the page linked after that text (just in case I have the Superdrive), but it’s not working out because the extracting program is having some issues. In any event, I probably have the 800k drive, because it says so on the back of the computer. Naturally, I don’t have another Mac; only a PC. Here’s the boot disk image file.

Is there any way I can make myself the appropriate boot disk? I don’t know anyone who’s got a Mac… I’ve been looking around Mac User groups all afternoon, but I haven’t found anything yet.

Any hope for my new box of wonder?

Try here. You may be able to download these with a PC and save them on a Mac-formatted diskette. There is free/shareware to do this–one such program is called PC2Mac, IIRC.

If your Mac SE does not support high-density diskettes (and only some of them did; if it doesn’t say “FDHD” or “SuperDrive” on the front bezel, it probably doesn’t), you cannot and will not format or write to a floppy in your PC that can subsequently be read (let alone booted from) your SE.

The older SEs used an 800 K diskette, the same physical type diskette as a PC 720 K diskette but with a different and incompatible low-level format.
I can send you an actual 800K diskette with System 6 on it, along with tools to format a hard disk, which will boot a Mac SE. (Do you HAVE a hard disk, or two floppy drives? The SE came with either configuration. If you have two floppy drives, you’ll want to get an external SCSI hard disk).

That’s what I figured, after reading around, but I was hoping there was another way. It doesn’t say “FDHD” or “Superdrive” anywhere, but it does say “1Mbyte RAM, 800K Drive, 20SC Hard Disk” on the back. (Bolding mine, of course.)

Oh, that would be so wonderful of you, and you’d be my new Doper Hero. According to the label on the back, there is a hard disk installed, and a single 800K floppy - and this doesn’t appear to have been changed by the previous owner; there’s only one slot to insert floppies on the front.

I’ll have a box of floppies to you soon. Once you get booted, a trip to the Apple menu will tell you whether or not it still has just one MB of RAM, and then you can decide whether or not to max it out to 4 MB.

I suspect 30 pin RAM SIMM chips are pretty cheap even if they are an anachronism, but the fun part is getting the case open if you’ve never done it before. You need special tools (a rather long Torx screwdriver and another anachronism called a “case cracker”).

If you decide to stick with the single meg, you’ll be happier running in System 6, without MultiFinder. System 7 on a 1-MB machine isn’t a whole lot of fun.

Oh, that’s fantastic. Once again it goes to show that you can always count on a Doper to be more than helpful.

Thanks so much.


The lady from the yard sale called and the found the mouse that goes with it… they’ll let me come by and pick it up in the morning. So I might just have a complete system here, if I can boot it up with AHunter3’s disks.

At this point, it probably doesn’t matter so much, but you could probably make a boot disk with a PC using an emulator such as Basilisk or vMac. They also make it much easier to shuttle files back and forth between said computers…

For additional resources, I have had good experience with Sun Remarketing, who mailed me a system disk for an ancient Power Mac I used to own.

The challenge was getting around the old Apple 800K floppy disk format. Sadly, the readme file for Basilisk says it can only support the 1.4M disks. It looks like the vMac developers have plans to get an 800K drive emulator working, but haven’t yet.

And thanks, scotandrsn, Sun Remarketing looks like a good place to go shopping if this all works out.

The only way you can read or write to an 800K Mac floppy from a PC is to ferret out a rather esoteric 3rd-party floppy disk controller and install it along with a Macintosh floppy drive pulled from an old Mac. I don’t know if you can keep your regular controller and floppy drive working at the same time or not. Nor do I have any idea what hardware this oddball sucker is compatible with.
In this case it turns out that the OP has an ethernet card in this old SE so file transfer is going to be a whole lot nicer and less expensive than that kind of difficult-to-facilitate sneakernet.