A 1980s Mac SE Walks Into a Genius Bar – and the Phenomenon of ‘Stiction’ | #retrocomputing
Here’s a fun video from YouTube user BritishTechLive – he booked an appointment at his local Apple store’s Genius Bar and took a ~30-year-old Mac SE in for repairs. It actually needed some tending to, and the technicians on hand were glad to lend a diffusing-bomb hand:
During the video the narrator mentions ‘stiction’ which I was previously unaware of. It sounds like a portmanteau of ‘stuck’ and ‘friction’ – especially given his narration and suggested solution: shake your hard drive. This is because the hard drive is essentially stuck, and it turns out this is a frequent hardware bug of this era:
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I was an Apple technician back when the Mac SE was a current machine. The "sticktion" issue was very common with the Quantum hard drives of the era.
One model of Quantum 40MB drive was particularly bad for it and Apple released a drive firmware update (had to physically replace the EPROM on the hard drive – not FLASH memory) that increased the current to the drive motor on startup and made the heads do random seeks occasionally when the drive was idle.
There’s no need to dismantle the drive to get it spinning – a sharp rap on the side of a desk with the power applied is usually enough. Could sometimes get them running without dismantling the machine with some "percussive maintenance" (a sharp slap to the side of the computer).
The old Macs seem to stand the test of time remarkably well. I have an original Mac Portable, still in perfect working order – as well as a Mac 512ke, Mac SE and an SE/30.