The Nem Memo – Steve, David, and the Terminator: Part 1

Steve, David, and the Terminator: Part 1

On New Year’s Day, 1/1/00, Barbara and I were invited to a couples brunch by our friends Nancy and David. They live in a stunning older home in Tucson, Arizona, with world-class views north over Finger Rock into the Santa Catalina Mountains of Coronado National Forest.

During a break between main course and dessert, David asked if anyone wanted to see a demonstration of his Christmas gift. Greg (the other hot-blooded Mac person) and I said “Sure!” and followed David into his well-equipped office, containing:

  • Macintosh G4/450
  • Apple 15″ Studio Display
  • Epson Stylus Scan 2500
  • Yamaha 4416SX CD-RW
  • PowerBook G3/266 “Wall Street”
  • DSL courtesy of US Westplus a new bondi blue headset. This stylish microphone-headset came with his gift, which is IBM’s ViaVoice 1.0 speech recognition application.

    David didn’t waste any time. He sat in his ergonomic task chair, launched ViaVoice, and started talking

    I had been following the news and reviews of this “flawed” application, and I was intrigued to have an opportunity to see it in action. A Windozer had previously demonstrated Dragon Systems’ voice recognition program for me, and ViaVoice appeared at first glance to be the equal of Dragon with respect to speed and accuracy.

    David explained how he “trained” ViaVoice to record his words correctly. He continued to dictate, with his text appearing on the monitor. Greg and I were impressed. The price of the package is so reasonable that in spite of its limitations, I suggest readers who have available the necessary computing muscle purchase and use ViaVoice.


    I arrived back at David’s house precisely at 10:00 a.m. on January 5, as Steve Jobs was beginning his keynote address at the San Francisco Macworld convention.

    Watch this space, one year from today: I’ll be attending the conference next January!

    In two clicks we were using QuickTime 4 to view and listen to Steve’s remarks. We learned how many Macs per second had been sold during the previous quarter, an all-time record. The transmission was erratic, so David decided to watch later via delayed broadcast, because we had other items on the day’s agenda.


    David disappeared into the cedar closet, returning with a small grey metal box. We had a plan.

    Do you remember the problems he and I had attempting to install his used 4.2 GB internal drive into my 7200/120? (See the January, 2000 Nemo Memo for a full report.) Since then, with his old 2 GB SCSI disk working perfectly as my second internal drive, I kept brainstorming how to bring the larger, neglected IBM disk back into service.

    My brilliant (read “highly questionable”) idea was to obtain an empty external hard drive case and use it for the 4.2 GB disk. David remembered he had such a case, containing a 110 MB unit. Does anybody currently alive recall when that size would have appeared to be enough external storage for a loooooong time?


    David logged into, a local supplier of computer cables and accessories, looking for a 68-pin connector that would allow the IBM drive to communicate with the Adaptec card in my 7200/120. He couldn’t locate precisely what he wanted, so he picked up the phone and called the store.

    Phill (yes, with two L’s) was knowledgeable and helpful. He understood what David needed, and said the parts were in stock. We dashed down to SWS in my mighty ’86 Toyota Tercel wagon. The showroom is clean, neat, and full of parts and accessories I will never understand if I live to Y3K.

    After much geeky conversation between David and Phill, I purchased two 68-pin SCSI cables: one to go inside the case, between the disk and the rear of the box; and one to connect the drive case to the Adaptec card in my CPU. More geekspeak followed on the topic of termination. My eyes glazed over, and I wandered through the showroom until David and Phill came up for air.


    David and I arrived in my home office with enthusiasm for our successful project. We securely screwed and plugged all the components and cables, booted up the external drive and the CPU, and were delighted when the 4.2 GB disk mounted on my desktop.

    We were not so happy a few minutes later, when we realized we were unable to copy successfully files onto the IBM disk. David played around for an hour, attempting to create a software solution using the Adaptec controls, with no success.

    “It’s termination, I’m sure of it,” he stated emphatically. “Those little jumper plugs on the bottom of the drive don’t provide the termination we hoped for.”

    We went to the website for IBM hard drives, and then downloaded and printed out the installation instructions for our unit. We appeared to be doing everything as specified. Being a weekday, we wished one another GOOD LUCK and phoned the toll-free number for IBM.

    After a reasonable wait, a tech support person told David that what we need is an inline 68-pin terminator between the ribbon cable connector and the thick cable that runs to the CPU. We couldn’t find one on the websites for,, or SWS Electronics here in Tucson, and called on their toll-free number. The phone rep tried to be helpful, but also was unable to locate what we requested.


    My stomach was grumbling and David was becoming frustrated. I treated him to lunch (we each ordered pad thai and an egg roll). Our conversation was dominated by David’s narration of changing his mind about the Canon multi-function printer/fax/scanner/copier he had just replaced with the superior Epson unit, plus an extensive basic explanation on the whys and hows of SCSI termination.

    For a thorough, concise treatise on termination, read pages 144-146 of Sharon Aker’s Macintosh Bible, 7th Edition, from Peachpit Press; or pages 1130-1132 of Pogue and Schorr’s Macworld Mac Secrets, 5th Edition; from IDG Books Worldwide. Reviews of both titles can be found in our Book Bytes Archives, linked from the home page at

    David and I parted company in surprisingly good spirits, given half a day of moderate frustration. Later that evening he sent me the following email message:


    Archimedes would not mind that I have plagiarized his phrase when I say that I believe that I have found the component that we are looking for.

    I searched the Internet and found approximately 80 hits for “68 pin AND terminator”. I looked through all the major terminator manufacturers and vendor web sites to no avail, and then found a small firm in New Jersey, called RAM Electronics. I believe that I found the proper pass-through the terminator that you need.

    Here is the URL:

    Part way down the page, look for the link for APT 32014.

    This appears to be the proper terminator. I would recommend that you the bookmark this link for safekeeping, and then you can use the CONTACT US link to call the people and ask for sales.

    Personally, if I were you, I would call to make sure that this is a proper component. If you like, I would be more than happy to do it.

    Best regards,


    Seems we are getting closer, don’t you think? Let’s end Part 1 here, and pick up the story next month, or whenever there is good (or more frustrating) news to report. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

    John Nemerovski

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