25 Years Ago in TidBITS: RAM Doubler Debuts

(lind0) #21

Ironically I just put a pristine, still shrink wrapped version of Ram Doubler on Ebay

While I was reading the specs I couldn’t help but smile. Requires a Mac II or better. For macs with 4 to 6 MB of RAM. It’s amazing what that old 68030 could do

(Gary Bastoky) #22

I was fortunate enough to meet the group that originally developed FH – Aldus bought it and this dev group supported it. They knew Postscript inside and out. I used it right up to the end, but was forced to switch to Fireworks eventually, which I still use even though it’s no longer in development. To me, Illustrator was not and is not intuitive, whereas FH was THE most intuitive drawing tool ever.

(Richard Wolfson) #23

That was a big deal back in 1994 because RAM was shockingly expensive—$300 for an 8 MB SIMM at a time when I had 20 MB in my Centris 660AV. For $50, RAM Doubler would double whatever you had: 8 MB to 16 MB, or 20 MB to 40 MB. It was astonishing.

I remember a RAM shortage at one point, the years always fade for me, and I made “arrangements” at a SF MacWorld to purchase 4-1MB SIMMs for $200 each, $800 total and I was happy to pay to get that MacPlus to 4MB. And of course that first LaserWriter was 5 grand. Again, we were happy to pay.


(crun) #24

25 years ago, i’d just left sun microsystems for a small printing company in japan. went from a world class workstation to a mac running system 8 on a powerpc chip. one of my ex-colleagues and chums at sun was the solaris build engineer. he’d build the o/s on not only sparc and x86 but also on pa-risc, powerpc, mips, and other chips. he’d told me that solaris running on the powerpc architecture was better performance than sparc. so it was a real shock to discover that that mac couldn’t run framemaker and illustrator at the same time.

waited another decade before i tried apple hardware again …

(Adam Engst) #25

Just got email from Roy McDonald, CEO of Connectix back in the day, and he said I could post his comments. Lovely behind-the-scenes stuff!

I have a couple of stories (and Jon has more). First, I want to acknowledge an unsung hero, Alex Louie (bottom right):

Alex was the PM and was working on Speed Doubler for release at MWSF 1994. But he kept coming in to tell me that RAM Doubler (slated for 95) should get priority. He was trying to explain to me about recovering unused memory (Jon’s story) and why that would make RD better than Virtual, but I was too dense to get it. The fifth (!) time around he brought in Chad Walters and Jorg Brown (upper left, center) and white-boarded it. I finally understood. We made the scary decision to switch horses to RD around September and just barely got the thing done in time for MacWorld. Alex deserves a lot of credit for sticking to his guns.SD came a year later and was also a success partly because of RD but, really RD was the winner.

The other one is more personal. My father, Bill, passed away the night before that MacWorld after a long illness. As I watched that long line form outside the booth I was thrilled by our success and mourning the loss of my father at the same moment. Bill was also a tech entrepreneur on the engineering side and it felt oddly like a passing of the torch, very bittersweet.

Again, Thanks for the Memories (which was our slogan for RD)…

(Adam Engst) #26

And now Alex Louie, RAM Doubler’s product manager, wrote:

Oh goodness, this brings back fond memories of working with Roy and Jon. I remember talking with Jorg around the many empty cans of Jolt soda that he had in his office, asking if he actually thought it could be done and seeing the moment he smiled about it. Roy and Jon put together a great team that was really more of a wonderful family. I was lucky to be a part of it.

(B. Jefferson Le Blanc) #27

I don’t have any fancy stories, but I used RAM doubler and Disk Doubler (for compression) and Conflict Catcher for troubleshooting. I think I still have the floppy disks, as I don’t throw anything away. Who knows when I might need to work on an old Mac running system 7? Man, those were the days. I remember when my ex-wife got a new Mac with a huge 2GB hard drive (I did maintenance on her computer and her Apple printer [when that was the only thing she needed me for]). My lowly performa had a 750 MB hard drive—hence Disk Doubler. Not so good old days. The Chooser couldn’t connect to a modem and a printer at the same time, so you had to go in and change it regularly.

Also, you could (had to) go into the Memory control panel and allocate specific amounts of RAM to Photoshop and other apps if you needed to run them at the same time. Eventually Photoshop got the ability to let you allocate RAM from within the app. Don’t remember exactly when that happened. You can still do that, by the way, and may have to as Photoshop by default takes 50% of your RAM, however much that may be.

So yes, being something of a gearhead I felt the need to optimize my Mac as best I could. There were other useful tools, like Norton Utilities (I still have those disks too), and Virex. Yes, there were Mac viruses in those “good old” days, so many that the person who was maintaining the free virus software (what was the name of that?) had to give up the job. Though most people didn’t run into them and hence didn’t have virus software on their machines. If I had a client whose machine was slowing down for no apparent reason, the first thing I would do is run a virus check. Oh, and Norton could slow down your machine dramatically. You had to be careful what you set it to do. As a repair utility, it was great to be able to boot from the floppy disk (remember holding down the C key at startup?) to run repair utilities on your disk, from Disk Doctor to defragging the disk. Fragmentation was a big problem in those days because, just as today, insufficient contiguous free space could jam up virtual memory, which was essential in the days of limited RAM—hey, it still is. This is a bit of a ramble, but it all ties together around RAM. So, yes, RAM doubler was a godsend.

Also, you could open up most Macs to add or remove memory and hard drives, more or less easily. The flat desktops were the easiest to work with. The towers, not so much. Then the iMac came along and ruined all that. Though eventually it got a panel in the back that opened up over the RAM slots. And RAM prices came down. It was always advisable to buy third party RAM as Apple charged too much for it—just as now. I just found a deal from Otherworld and replaced the 2 four gigabyte Apple RAM boards in my 2013 iMac, so that I now have 32 GB. I installed 16 GB when the iMac was new and I suppose it ran perfectly well on 24 GB. But I couldn’t resist maxing out my machine, even now because, you know, Safari. So kudos to those pioneers who built innovative programs to optimize our machines. They helped make Macworld Expo fun.

On the downside, regarding Framemaker, they stopped supporting it about the time the Mac could support enough RAM to run it. And Norton gave up on the Mac with OS X. Making room for TechTool Pro and DiskWarrior. Others have come along now that the Mac is a big deal, but DW and TTP are the gold standard—and they were there when we needed them, moving from OS 9 to the strange new world of OS X, that no longer needed or supported Disk Doubler and the like. I remember thinking I was going to have to learn UNIX, when apps like Cocktail came along to save my bacon—and my sanity. And there was Applejack, another free offering that did a lot of things in Single User Mode, running all those UNIX jobs that I didn’t want to learn to code. The developer gave up when Lion came out. It became too much work to keep up with Apple’s changes to the OS. You can still run those utilities if you know the UNIX. Applejack was great when you had an unidentified crash. You can do some of those things still by starting you Mac in Safe Boot. Again I ramble. But thinking about RAM doubler brought up all these memories. If I’m boring you, you should have quit reading before now.

(Alan Forkosh) #28

Disinfectant from John Norstad.