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cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17
Best Mac or Emulator for old educational CD-ROMs

So I have a smallish project in mind: I want to set up a Mac or emulator for a very young niece and nephew so they can play with educational Mac CD-ROMs as they homeschool from home.

The Garden's inventory is totally impressive, but it would be good to potentially hone-in on a powerful Mac or emulator setup where they can have a wide selection of excellent titles to play with. Here's my possible inventory, but I'm seeing the writing on the wall that it may need a cash investment to make this work. The following are ready to go:

  • A Windows 7 Mini-tower - probably the best computer I have for this; fast enough w/a built-in CD player and can run Basilisk II, SheepShaver or QEMU. The issue would be how to run the CDs themselves. I don't think the focus would be to run games, but even educational titles may give issues if attempted from an emulator and simply refuse to run.
  • A Chromebook - probably the most limited solution because it has no real CD-ROM player and can only run the Android version of Basilisk II, so I don't see too many titles running on it.
  • My Macs: both my working Powerbooks are vintage already, so I see them breaking under young (5-7) school-aged children's hands, so those are out. However, I do have an Intel Mac Mini, but that can only run newer OS X titles, which may limit how much can be run from the Garden. If I had any of my G4 Minis working, any of those would be perfect because they can run Mac OS 9 and Tiger or possibly Leopard without being too slow.

But what about getting a working Mac from eBay? Something older but very easy to find and not terribly costly: $100-150 would be great, unless it can be had cheaper. I have to consider peripherals like a mouse, keyboard and monitor, although I do have a VGA monitor and I may have a working adb mouse and keyboard around somewhere.

What would you folks consider would be a nice Mac for kids that's not too easy to break? I was thinking possibly a 6400-6500 era Mac, something that could go as far back as Mac OS 8.1 to 9.2.2. Unless we have a ton more OS X stuff (but I think our Classic titles are more and maybe a little better/easier to run).. if we do, then a an OS X PPC may work better Smile

68k Macs I think would be too limited and too expensive for what they can offer as far as speed and what they can run..

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sfp1954's picture
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Joined: 2013 Dec 29

Mine.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/333732376757

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Thanks, sfp! Wink

What a wonderful machine! I can read and hopefully write to floppies, which I kept several unopened boxes (I don't think they would be worth too much unopened as opposed to me using them, lol) and before I get lost in all of it's cool features, I am posting this reply on the Outrigger.. amazing! Laughing out loud

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

So on to all of the G3s highlights:

Ethernet makes going online nice and speedy, and Classilla is fabulous on this Mac for that same reason. I love that I can take something store in SCSI and be able to use the Firewire to offload and/or back it up onto a newer storage medium. Connecting a Firewire external, which most come with USB 2.0 ports, I can then copy .sit archives, .pdfs and other cross-platform documents and files over back and forth, as well as over Ethernet via TCP/IP and the using the Firewire or SCSI target disk mode. I never had that much interoperability of old and new in any Mac. It was worth every penny for that alone.

So here's where I'm at: I dug up an old Performa 6360 160MHz 603e and got it up and running w/an external. The kiddos will get just as much out of it as this marvel.. I just find that I can't part with it; that and the CD drive is not opening correctly (easy fix for me, just remove the bezel blocking the drive from opening. I also don't remember having to insert floppies that far into the floppy disk drive, so I may have to have a look inside at some point. But outside of those two shortcomings, everything else reminds me of the peppiness of the first colorful iMacs Smile I paired the P6360 with a very nice LCD display and an original apple mouse. I had a fully-working keyboard, too, but something happened to it, which I will post on separately.

24bit's picture
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Joined: 2010 Nov 19

A nice offer that beige G3!

Otherwise an Intel Mac mini running Snow Leo can run Basilislk II and SheepShaver for OSX fine.
Both emulators do read CDs and DVDs under emulation. (albeit not all of them)
Same for your Windows 7 rig, CD/DVD support was re-enabled for Windows hosts running Basilisk II or SheepShaver some time ago.

If you want to set up a kids computer, I would look for a used G41/G45 chipset PC and install Snow Leo via Nawcoms USB mod on it.
Those Socket 775 G41 PCs go for a few bucks on flea bay.
Add a OSX compatible GPU card and you may run early OSX titles, PPC titles with Apple´s Rosttea plus the Classsic stuff via SheepShaver or Basilisk II.

Thinking about it, I could even donate you such a kids PC with Snow Leo on it.
Which edu CD titles are you thinking of?
I might give those CDs a whirl with my Snow Leo Hackintosh and Basilisk II / SheepShaver.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Thanks, 24bit!

A strong enough PPC laptop may be the most cost effective due to higher shipping rates for larger Macs, but we can definitely look at that.. thank you my friend! Real Macs are so much easier to use than the emulators for troubleshooting reasons mostly, lol. But I guess I could remote into an OS X or Windows desktop, too Wink

Franky233's picture
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Joined: 2019 Apr 6

I was about to recommend you a G3 Beige too. You can run native classic Mac OS and of course also Mac OS X (up to 10.2.8). This version is the 1st one to support PCI third-party wireless cards, if needed. But you can also run Panther and Tiger with XPostFacto... And you can upgrade it with a G4 processor too. It's not as fast as a real G4 machine, but, why not? You have also the ATI Radeon 7000 card compatible, and so on...

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

I know! The Beige towers do seem amazing, but I'd be perfectly happy with the desktop version Wink it reminds me a little of the PowerMac 7600 and the Quadra 650 before it. It's got a bunch of pluses for sure!

And now that I think about it, I believe I still have some of Mac educational titles somewhere, including a few that were bundled with some of the Macs I used to have! It's all coming together..

Franky233's picture
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Joined: 2019 Apr 6

I was talking about a Beige G3, but not specifically the tower for you. Wink Well, the two are quite similar for me. The Beige tower has some adds, but certainly not useful for your kids, right?

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Well if and when the kiddos outgrow it or the global crisis improves for more normalcy in everyday life, I could potentially claim it back for myself or they give it back to me, lol! Wink

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

I have excellent news; a Beige G3 Mac will soon be on its way Laughing out loud and it even comes with some real nice extras, too!

I do want to see the best way to add or simply use an internal 100mb zip drive. Apparently the 250mb models runs slow as molasses compared to the 100mb ones (I'm not sure why that may be) but as long as I can use a 100mb drive, I can then move some software titles from my 100mb zip backups right into the hard drive.

So I need the Garden's help: I'm not sure which ebay models to search for on ebay; money's tight now that I've gotten the Mac, but I'm hoping I can spend close to the $20 range; if I had more, I'd shoot for a zip bezel frontplate, and a power button would be neat too, but those are just cosmetic extras and I'm over budget already. I'll wait 'til the Mac comes to get the zip drive, unless there's some steal online that I or anyone spots for me to get or they maybe might even have one on-hand!