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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Fri May 14, 2021 9:43 am

Well there's an acronym for you!

This is a post about something I recently received, yes. But more than that it's a public acknowledgement and a heart-felt thanks to Douglas Compton of 10Marc fame, who gave me this really cool piece of Amiga hardware.

Thank you so much, Doug.

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The Emplant Mac emulation card, designed by Jim Drew in 1992.


Doug knows that I'm a big fan of classic Macs, much to his chagrin. Ninety percent of my collection consists entirely of C64/128/Amiga hardware and software. And rightly so. But that other 10% is a very proud pre-OS X collection of machines and software. My high school had black and white Macintoshes, which I used for class. I also used more powerful (and to me, mysterious) beige Macintoshes in art school in the mid-90s. I later got my very own first Mac in 1999/2000 with the introduction of the beautifully colored iMacs. Since then I've never looked back... except for my retro hobbies, of course.

These days I have 3 old Macs to get my fix (not including the stacks of more recent Apple stuff, including the machine I'm typing on right now): an unbearably gorgeous Qudara 700 @ 40Mhz running System 7.5, an iMac "Ruby" (my original) running 9.2, and a fully maxed out G3 Powerbook "Pismo" also running 9.2. My eyes are always wandering but lack of space is sometimes a blessing. You know what I mean?

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Anyway, Doug barely tolerated my posts with a raised eyebrow and a sigh. But since deep down he's actually an exceptionally kind and generous soul, he sent me a crown jewel from his collection (crown jewel to me): an Emplant card.

The Emplant was designed by Jim Drew and produced back in 1992 - a year after my Quadra 700 was born. It claimed to be the "world's first multi-platform emulation system."

It provides hardware emulation of Macintosh computers within the comfort of our Amiga machines. If you have ever groused over Adobe Photoshop never being released for the Amiga, this was a way to get around that sad fact.

Jim Drew, via the Emplant manual:
The Macintosh computer has revolutionized the computer industry with it’s strong points in user-friendliness and powerhouse software. With programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Aldus Freehand, Quark Express, Fractal Painter, and countless others, it proves that even though the Macintosh lacks the potential of the Amiga, it has some of the best software for it ever written, making it almost a requirement in the professional environment.

By now, Commodore must realize that these power-house applications will not be ‘ported’ to the Amiga platform. So, “if you can’t port ‘em, run ‘em”....and an emulation system was born.

In order to run this card, you need the following:
  • Apple 256K MAC ll/llx/llcx/SE-30 ROMs. The ROMs come as four twenty-eight pin chips, or as a ROM-SIMM board.
  • A Macintosh system disk.
  • A 68020/68030/68040 CPU.
  • At least 2MB of Fast RAM.
  • A hard drive partition for the emulation module software to be stored on.
  • Commodore’s v2.04 or higher operating system.
I'll be putting this card in one of my A3000's. I have a feeling that the A3K's MMU will help juice the video display speeds, not to mention the A3K being 32-bit should really help speed things up overall as well. I'm leaning towards my beefed up A3000 because it is running 3.1 and has a lot of video options to play around with as it is.

For the ROM chip I picked up the Mac "ROM-inator II Atom SIMM" from Big Mess o' Wires.
The Mac ROM-inator II Atom replaces the stock Macintosh ROM SIMM with a 2 MB custom flash memory module. Once installed, the flash ROM takes over the Macintosh, allowing for a bootable ROM disk and other new possibilities.
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I gave the card a thorough alcohol bath and wipe down. It's in pristine condition.


It's totally brand new, doesn't require me to try and plunder chips from an ancient Mac and the pre-programmed ROM image is compatible with the Macintosh SE/30, IIx, IIcx, IIci, IIfx, and IIsi. I mean, that hits ALL the buttons right there.

I mentioned to Jim that I'd gotten one of his boards and expressed my plans.


Jim Drew:
There are LOTs of different Mac ROMs available. You will definitely want to "locate" 1MB Quadra ROMs. Those are the best. You will also want to use FUSION instead of the EMPLANT's Mac emulation software. FUSION supports the EMPLANT board so you can plug in SCSI devices and use the dual serial ports for the Mac or Amiga sides.
Well, my new Rominator doesn't have the Quadra ROMs, so I think I'll be going for the IIsi (if that's possible) or IIcx, since that was the most robust Mac mentioned in the manual. I mainly want to run System 7.5 like my Q700 and get those environments sort of similar. Should be a fun comparison if I can figure out how to do all of it.

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Some of the prints on the silkscreen are just too cool. And they are actually much easier to see when held up to a light.


I'm juggling so many projects right now I'm not sure when I'll get to this one. It's both awe inspiring and a bit intimidating. But I hope to get to it later this year and see if I can make the magic happen! I really need an extra work table.

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Dynamic_Computing

Posted Fri May 14, 2021 1:41 pm

Happy to donate it to a worthy cause! And anything I can do to get the Macintosh stench out of my house is a good thing! 🤣🤣😉

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Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Fri May 14, 2021 5:45 pm

That is awesome. What a nice dude. I have not seen one of these in person nor known anyone that had one. Back in the day we had the software emulator that we used, I forget the name, to run a classic black and white Mac for our friends that owned Macs. Just to mess with them and run MacPaint. It wasn't until later after the demise of Commodore that I would embrace the Mac, via a PowerMac 7200 in 1995.
Dynamic_Computing wrote: Happy to donate it to a worthy cause! And anything I can do to get the Macintosh stench out of my house is a good thing! 🤣🤣😉
LOL! At the time my friends and I were moving on from our Amiga's I had a mixture of friends that either went to the Mac or went to DOS/Windows. Actually I think it was more that went to Mac.

I hope you do a video on this as I would love to see it run. As for ROMs, if you happen to have an EPROM burner, you will find a few good uses for it. ;)

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BloodyCactus
Lexington VA
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Posted Fri May 14, 2021 6:23 pm

I only remember shapeshifter, but that was all software wasnt it.

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dalek

Posted Mon May 17, 2021 2:34 pm

Good timing! I've wasted a few days trying to get my Emplant board working with either Emplant 5.5 or Fusion 3.1/3.2.

I'm using it in an A2000 rev 6.2 w/ GVP 030 Combo @40MHz (full 030 w/ MMU and 68882) and 16MB 32bit RAM, on a SCSI2SD 5.0a w/ GuruROM. Kickstart/Workbench 3.1.

The issue I was having was any emulation would completely freeze the system after a few seconds to a few minutes, especially when MacOS tries to format the hard partition. Sometimes I'd get a yellow screen, sometimes just a complete freeze. This would only happen when "Emplant" was selected as the hardware. Emulation works fine with "Amiga Chipset". I tried both MacOS 7.6.1 and 7.5.3.

I finally tracked the issue down to mmulib - completely removing it and using only "RsrvKick" and "CPU FASTROM" seems
to get it going again. Pretty glad it's going now :)

At a guess I'm thinking mmulib's 68030.library sets up the mmu in a way Emplant/Fusion is not expecting.

Looking forward to Jim Drew's new version "one day"! Hopefully he can look at the compatibility with mmulib in the new version too.

Hope you don't run in to these freeze issues but if you do you know where to start looking!





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