1. What is a Mac IIci?
  2. How expandable is it?
  3. How does it perform these days?
  4. What is a similar, more modern model?

Operating System

  1. There's a disk with a flashing question mark when I boot up
  2. Where do I Buy an older MacOS?


  1. What are the capabilities of the internal video circuitry?
  2. Can I use a PC Monitor?
  3. Can I use a new Apple monitor?
  4. What sorts of video cards can/should I add?
  5. What is this video card?

Power Supply Problems

  1. My IIci won't start up (no chime) or My IIci starts up but then immediately turns off again.
  2. We had a lightning strike and my IIci wasn't plugged into a power strip. Where is the fuse?


What is a Mac IIci?

The Macintosh IIci. An incredibly versatile workhorse of a different era. The Mac IIci was a powerful, cutting-edge, expandable computer in a small, easily accessible case. It's based on a 25 MHz 68030 processor and includes such cutting edge (in 1989) features as a paged-memory manager, floating-point processor, 32-bit system bus and 32 bit clean ROMs. It also came with built-in video and stereo audio. It's production life-span was from September 1989 to February 1993; 3.5 years is unheard of these days. When it debuted, it's cost was between $6,000 and $8,000! Partially due to its generous expandability (for a Mac, anyway) and partially due to the large numbers of this unit made, there is a plethora of parts, add-ons and upgrades available. For complete specs, see the Apple Spec Sheet or Low End Mac.

How expandable is it?

The IIci has 3 Nubus card slots, a processor direct slot (PDS), and a ROM simm slot, as well as the usual array of Mac ports around back. The Nubus slots support serial cards, ethernet, audio, video capture and display, scsi, laboratory instrument input/output and others. The PDS is reserved for Photoshop accelerator cards, level-2 cache, and central processor upgrades. The ability to upgrade the processor was what originally attracted me to the IIci - '030, '040 and even PowerPC processor cards are available. The ROM simm slot was never implemented (too bad). When I started looking for an inexpensive Mac that would survive the ever increasing demands of Microsoft Word versions for several years, the IIci was the bargain choice!

How does it perform these days?

Well, it's actually finally beginning to show it's age ;-). This is the oldest Mac which can run 7.6. MacOS 8 or 9 will not function on it (MacOS 8 will work with some Sonnet and Daystar accelerator cards and with a certain program). Still, running 7.5.5, it multitasks better than most Windoze boxes. I am continually amazed at how many tough jobs it can do at once. I've downloaded, unStuffed, copied and worked on graphics all at the same time. 7.5.5 is very stable except while running a web browser with Java turned on. Otherwise, it tends to run most modern programs (provided there's a 68k version), just a little, or a lot, slowly. Most games which aren't shareware are beyond it's capability.

Modern counterparts

Keeping in the same spirit of affordability and expandability, the Macintosh IIci was followed by the Centris/Quadra 650, an 040 machine, and the newer PPC 7300/7500/7600/8500. These "G2"or PCI series Macs are an incredible bargain - some are selling for little over $100 these days, and the CPU can be replaced with the most state-of-the-art PPC G4. In fact, I superceded (not replaced!) my IIci with a PPC 8500. Another atractive option is the Umax Supermac S900. It was produced during a time when Apple was licensing its hardware designs and ROMs to clone makers. The S900 has 6 PCI slots, a large tower case and several unique features. 3 PCI slots just doesn't seem like enough to some people, so 6 slot Macs are a prize (the S900 is much cheaper than similar Apple 9500/9600 machines).

Operating System

Flashing question mark

This indicates that the computer could not find a valid system file. It searches (in order) the floppy drive, the hard drive, and any external SCSI devices (CD-ROM, etc.). If there is a working internal hard drive or some other device, it may be that there is no System folder, or that it has become corrupted. Find a Disk Tools floppy disk or a Network Access disk (available for free from Apple's website) and boot from that.

Where do I buy an older MacOS?

If you really want to purchase MacOS 7.5 or 7.6, try some of the stores on the Links page and eBay. Apple provides MacOS 7.5.3 and some older versions for free on its website. Download and install 7.5.3, then download and run the 7.5.5 update.


What are the capabilities of the internal video circuitry?

The IIci's internal video can drive a single-scan (a.k.a. fixed resolution; sync on green) monitor at 640x480 pixels with 8-bit color (256 colors). It can also drive a mono single-page display. The video circuitry uses up to 1 MB of RAM in Bank A as video memory (VRAM). This means that there must always be memory in Bank A, and it is best to leave the smallest SIMMs in this bank to speed up video performance.

Can I use a PC monitor?

Any PC monitor manufactured within the past 8-10 years is likely to be multisync, which the Mac IIci cannot drive. PC monitors also use a different 15-pin connector, making it incompatible with the IIci. However, there are adapters which will overcome both limitations. Griffin Technology, among other companies, sells these adapters.

Can I use a new Apple monitor?

New Apple monitors are multisync, which is incompatible with the IIci's video circuitry. Adapters are available though (see above).

What sorts of video cards can/should I add?

It depends on what you need to do with your IIci. If you just want to speed up your video, add 24-bit color (millions of colors) and abillity to drive multiscan monitors at high resolutions, I recommend the Radius PrecisionColor cards. I recommend these because I've used them, they work error-free and they're fast. Supermac, RasterOps and E-Machines produced competing cards during the same time. Many of these cards are just as good. Check the Upgrades page for more video card details.

What is this video card?

Check the Upgrades page to help you identify many third party video cards. "Gamba" also has a great chart with many Apple and third-party cards, drivers, etc.

Power Supply Problems

My IIci won't start up (no chime) or My IIci starts up but then immediately turns off again.

First of all, verify that the keyboard power switch is not faulty. The easiest way to do this is to start up the computer using the power switch in the back. Make sure that the switch is not turned to the "server" position (this will restart the machine in the event that there is a power outage). The keyboard doesn't even have to be plugged in.

There is a known issue with IIci power supplies. This involves the +5 V trickle that is present even when the computer is off (but plugged in). Over time, the charge dwindles down to 0 Volts, making it impossible to start up. The usual symptoms for this problem are "clicking" sounds from the power supply, or a startup chime followed by nothing or shutdown.

There are a couple of fixes that may or may not make the power supply last:

Info-Mac Digest 13 #138 item 34 (Volume 13 & 14 are missing from all the archives I could find. If anyone has a link, please email me).

From comp.sys.mac.hardware newsgroup, Wed., 16 Dec 1998:

Subject: Re: IIci & IIx power supplies

>RE the posting:
<< Does anyone know if these 2 supplies are compatible, I need to replace the [IIc]x power supply and I may be able to get a [II]ci supply. The main problem is that the computer does not turn on.>>

Before you buy a new power supply, try this: Get ahold of a cheap "power strip" with an on/off switch. Plug the IIcx into the power strip. When the IIcx is off, leave the power strip switch in the OFF position. When you're ready to boot up, reach down and flip the power strip on. Wait a few seconds, and press the keyboard power-on button. When it's time to shut down the computer, go through the normal shutdown procedure. After the IIcx "turns itself off", reach down and flip the power strip to OFF. Try this - you may be VERY pleasantly surprised with the results...

The theory is that the +5 V charge is still there briefly when you send current to the power supply. If you can start up the Mac quickly enough, you won't need the trickle charge while it's running.

Many people have asked me if I have a schematic for the power supply - I don't. Please send me one if you have it so I may post it on this site. Jan van Gennip did send some instructions (PDF) on how he repaired an Aztec power supply - thanks Jan.

I believe there are at least two makes of power supplies for the IIci, G.E. and Aztec. Mine is a G.E. and I haven't had a problem with it since I got it 5 years ago. Luckily, power supplies for the IIci are only around $15.

We had a lightning strike and my IIci wasn't plugged into a power strip. Where is the fuse?

There is a sticker on the back of the IIci that mentions a fuse. Unfortunately, this seems to be a mistake. I don't have a fuse in my IIci and others I've spoken to report the same. If you have a fuse, please let me know (and what brand of power supply you have).

Your only recourse is to purchase a new (used) power supply.




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Last Updated May 10, 2005