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Early Macintosh 128K Hard Drives and Apples HD20

A reader asked a great question regarding what was the first Macintosh hard drive. From my research there two contenders before Apple released their model which really supported the expanded capacity. These two models supported the first Macintosh with a few problems due to the extra storage space. Macworld Premier Issue 1984

From looking at the premier issue of MacWorld (published February 1984), there were two companies that had ads for a hard drive for the original Macintosh. Tecmar Inc. had a 5MB “Apple Jack Winchester” on a removable cartridge and Davong Systems Inc. had the Mac Disk system from 5MB to 32MB. Just because both were advertised did not mean they were shipping first. This may be a moot point. These hard drives could be used by the original Macintosh 128K model.

The Davong Mac Disk system appeared to be flawed by the original Macintosh MFS disk format and included a special version of the Finder to recognize the increased number of stored files. This version of the Finder supported larger disks than the Mac’s floppy disk 400K size that made using the hard drive usable. The Mac Disk hooked to Macintosh by the Modem or Printer ports. This hard drive retailed for $2,395 for a 10MB hard disk. Information on Mac Disk from site in an InfoWorld magazine review from November 5, 1984.

Tecmar had their Mac Drive system it had one flaw that the 5MB removable cartridge would not be able to be ejected due to the 128K of RAM in the original Macintosh could not hold all of the disk file names in the Finder at that time. The special version of the Finder was included to support disks larger than the Mac’s floppy disk 400K size. This was reported the least problematic hard drive on the market in November 5, 1984. The Mac Drive hooked to only the Modem port. This hard drive retailed for $1,995. Information on Mac Drive from site in an InforWorld magazine review from November 5, 1984.

Apple introduced their Macintosh hard drive HD20 in 1985 and it improved on it’s predecessors a bit by using the floppy port instead of the serial port. By using the HD20 INIT on any system folder (Macintosh 512K model) you would use the whole hard drive space without any problems while ejecting. As the HD20 was based on the newer HFS disk format (over the original MFS format) more and more file could be stored easily. The Macintosh 512Ke and later models included support for the HFS format in the System ROM on the logic board.

The original Macintosh 128K and the Macintosh 512K models had the original 400K 3.5″ disc drive. The Macintosh 512Ke and later models came with a double sided double density 800K 3.5″ disc drive.

From using the HD20 (I own 2 of them) hard drive, it was much faster and easier to use the Macintosh than just 1 or 2 floppy drives. Once the HFS format was out hard drives became a regular computing device without any problems due to the simple file structure of the MFS discs. MFS was really geared for a 400K floppy disc. Hard drive pioneers to make it work with the original Macintosh 128K model should be thanked to see what could be done. The Macintosh platform needed to grow up a bit before everything worked out.

Eventually the hard drive SCSI connector won out and became the de facto standard for a while. That is another tale.

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