68K Mac Software from Synergy Creations
If you've stopped by your friendly local Mac software store lately and asked for software for your $8000+ Mac IIci you bought in 1989, you may have received a rather confused look. A couple years after the PowerPC Macs arrived in 1994, new 68K software was very rare.
When Synergy Creations posted our first software in 1998, it was 68K compatible. We kept 68K compatibility in all of our software up until the June 2002 release of Alchemist's Challenge 1.0. Alchemist's Challenge requires a PowerPC, and will not run on 68K Macs.
Sidebar: What are 68K Macs?
68K Macs, also called "680x0 Macs", pronounced "sixty-eight-K" or "sixty-eight-thousand" are Macintosh computers from the first 10 years of Mac computing. Speed wise, we're talking everything from the original 128 kilobyte Mac in 1984 (8MHz 68000 processor) to the awesome Quadra 840AV in 1993 (40MHz 68040 processor).
A 68K Mac's main processor is from Motorola's 680x0 series--hence their name. More modern Macs use PowerPC processors from Motorola or IBM. 68K Macs include the original Macs, the Mac Plus, Mac SE, SE/30, early Performa models (with three-digit model numbers, like Performa 475), most LC models, the Mac II series (Mac II, Mac IIcx, Mac IIci, etc...) and last but not least, the Quadra and Centris series. I'm leaving lots of models out: check out someplace like everymac.com for a more complete list.
Times are changing, though. Apple ended operating system support for 68030 (and earlier) Macs in later versions of System 7.5 and 7.6. 68040 support--and thus all 68K support--was ended with Mac OS 8.1. In the past few years, development software has stopped even offering the ability to compile (create) software that runs on 68K Macs. Add it all up, and it's rather difficult to make software of any complexity that can run natively on Mac OS X, and also runs natively with all the same features on a Mac LC III running System 7.5!
But, even as times change, we at Synergy Creations want to make sure that 68K compatible versions remain available. This page tells you about it, but this page has the 68K software downloads. 68K Macs themselves are dirt-cheap these days. Except for a few unique models, sellers can't hardly give them away on eBay. So if you need more memory or a faster 68K Mac, you can probably find one for a song--or maybe even just a verse. The main drawback to 68K Macs is they don't handle fancy modern web sites very well, and newer web features may not work at all. Given software from the era they were designed, they run as well as ever. (Well, okay, compared to a G3 or G4 Mac they're slower than molasses, but that's just the way computers are... the trick is simply to not use a 68K Mac for something that a G3 is better suited for!)
Here's a screenshot of a trusty 68030 Mac running ConverTable Planets 1.2, ConverTable Units 2.0, UpTime Log 1.8, MacASCII Display 1.2, all under System 7.5:
And here's Periodic Table 3.0.4 running in System 7.5:
What's the ideal 68K Mac for our 68K software? Anything with a 68040 processor: any Centris or Quadra model especially. 68030 Macs should work, but they are often equipped with less memory and are dramatically slower. The 68020 Mac LC and Mac II might work, if you're the patient type.