S C O T T E R I C P E T E R S E N

Composer, electronic musician, improviser

Music of the Macintosh Classic ][



I recently came into possession of a 1992 Mac Classic II personal computer. How is a matter of top security, but I assure you it was legal.

Over the course of several days, this machine went from DOA to fully functional computer music production facility. All despite lacking an ADB keyboard! That’s right, the sonic awesome you are about to hear was produced sans querty keyboard. Gotta love a computer you can control almost completely with a one-button mouse.

Without too much more delay, here are the “pieces.” All were recorded in the jankiest of fashion* due to the lack of a mini-to-mini TRS cable. The sounds were generated in Super Studio Session at 22kHz 8-bit mono and recorded to 22kHz 16-bit then transcoded to mp3 then whatever SoundCloud did to them.

The Schubert file was an example included with the “strings” instrument collection.The rest were “composed” by myself, Brian Kane, and Paul Coleman.

New NRT MuCo free jazz improvisation. Instruments: bongo, clarinet, organ, bari sax. Listening to it a number of times I can’t help but think that this is what Terry Riley would have done in the 60s if he had had a Mac Classic II, only several hours longer.

Entire 68k playlist! :D

Mac Classic II complete with ADB keyboard and mouse. Thanks Mark!

**It’s called two banana clips on a mini-to-1/4” TRS attached to another mini-to-1/4” TRS reversed. Yup. That’s how we role ;)

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Filed under: El MuCo, , , , , , ,

9 Responses

  1. Scott W says:

    everything is right about this

  2. […] Last month’s FridayNightThing was a lot of fun. We had several performances and a few new friends joined us. For the third FNT of the year we have more fun planned. Scott recently got a hold of a 1991 Macintosh Classic II computer. After some finagling he installed some super-easy-to-use music software on it, and promptly made a bunch of tracks along with a couple other friends. (Mac music can be found here.) […]

  3. Esmail Hamidi says:

    Hey, I just acquired a number of Mac Classic IIs and saw your post. Can you please go into detail about how you installed Super Studio Session? I want to do the same but have no idea how to proceed. Thanks!

    • scacinto says:

      Hi Esmail,

      Yes, I am planning on doing a whole post on the process, but I’ll give you the skinny now. Here’s what you need:

      1) a mac with 10.4 or earlier. This is required to read and write to HFS. (not HFS+) Leopard no longer supports writing to HFS.

      2) a USB to floppy drive.

      3) the original installers from the superstudiosession site plus something to decompress it (binhex): http://madcapps.com/bogas_productions.htm

      4) if the installers for whatever you want to install are small enough, you can drag and drop them to the floppy disc. otherwise, they are most likely “full” images and have to be written from the command line using the instructions found on this page: http://lowendmac.com/brierley/08pb/classic-mac-boot-floppy.html

    • scacinto says:

      Once the floppy discs are created (which is the most laborious part) you drag the installer to the HD of the classic II and run it, following instructions.

      Two hints regarding the floppy creation: Mac’s modern OS writes files to the floppy that take up valuable space and that you don’t need. If the disc is, for some reason, not big enough, format the floppy on the classic THEN write the files on the mac. You can format the disc on the mac (setting it for HFS) but this somehow takes up more space than doing it on the classic.

      • Esmail Hamidi says:

        This process certainly makes a lot more sense now. I guess I’ll procure the necessary parts and files and report back. Thanks a lot!

      • scacinto says:

        No problem, and good luck. The process is laborious, but I had a really good time with it. Installing software is MUCH easier than installing OSes on these early machines, which is a whole other bag of worms. But its all worth it the first time it makes noise. Aaaaaah sweet 8-bit 22k mono sound!

  4. Joshua says:

    I’d be really interested in the details as far as how you did this. I recently came across one myself and have literally no idea what to do with it. Judochopjosh at yahoo.com.

    • scacinto says:

      does your machine have a working OS? If so, what version? It would probably be 7.1, but perhaps not. You have to decide what kind of software you want on it, then you have to find it online (http://www.macintoshgarden.org/ is a good place to start.) You will then need a USB to floppy drive (unless you have a mac with a floppy drive) and a machine with classic running to create the install disks. It’s hard to go into specifics without knowing what you want to do with the computer.

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