1gb of ram in OS 9?

repairedCheese

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Jan 13, 2020
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I finally maxed out the ram in my eMac, and while I mostly did it for OSX and possibly Linux, I booted it into OS 9, and got to watch Finder use all of 60mb. I don't think I've ever thrown this much ram at a Mac emulator, never mind the real classic Mac OS.

So it made me wonder, did anyone really need this much ram 20 years ago? Was Photoshop able to eat a whole gig of ram back in the day? Is there anything I can do on what's one of the faster Macs made to run OS 9 that would use most of the ram in that old OS? Because while it's holding its own against Leopard Webkit better than before, that's honestly not that impressive.
 

RogerWilco6502

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Jan 12, 2019
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I finally maxed out the ram in my eMac, and while I mostly did it for OSX and possibly Linux, I booted it into OS 9, and got to watch Finder use all of 60mb. I don't think I've ever thrown this much ram at a Mac emulator, never mind the real classic Mac OS.

So it made me wonder, did anyone really need this much ram 20 years ago? Was Photoshop able to eat a whole gig of ram back in the day? Is there anything I can do on what's one of the faster Macs made to run OS 9 that would use most of the ram in that old OS? Because while it's holding its own against Leopard Webkit better than before, that's honestly not that impressive.
When I upgraded from 512MB to 1.5GB in my 733MHz DA G4, I did find more of an improvement in OS X as well (TFF was more responsive, etc.) However, this is due to how Mac OS 9 handles memory allocation, where allocation is pre-defined. I could easily see needing to give some applications (maybe video editing software and such) a large amount of RAM to work with so you can work with larger files. It would also allow you to run more things at once (not that you would really want to do that in OS 9, but the option is there).
 

eyoungren

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So it made me wonder, did anyone really need this much ram 20 years ago? Was Photoshop able to eat a whole gig of ram back in the day? Is there anything I can do on what's one of the faster Macs made to run OS 9 that would use most of the ram in that old OS? Because while it's holding its own against Leopard Webkit better than before, that's honestly not that impressive.
As a frequent victim of QuarkXPress 4.11 bombing out because the Mac ran out of memory or experiencing images that would not display because there was not enough ram (real or virtual) I say yes.

When you have XPress, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Suitcase, Word, a browser and an email app open at the same time (not to mention the many fonts that you have active) it got ram intensive real fast. Multiply by 'X' files open in each app.

I can only imagine that video and sound production were more intensive.

By the time I left my first weekly newspaper we'd managed to push management into almost 1GB of ram on the G4s. It still wasn't enough.
 

reukiodo

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Nov 22, 2013
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My aunt was in publishing and RAM was almost always the first upgrade to her Macs, since she needed to have lots of those software open and move back-n-forth between them. With virtual memory, it was glacially slow and on big projects, she didn't have time to waste, so the most RAM was the answer.
 

eyoungren

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My aunt was in publishing and RAM was almost always the first upgrade to her Macs, since she needed to have lots of those software open and move back-n-forth between them. With virtual memory, it was glacially slow and on big projects, she didn't have time to waste, so the most RAM was the answer.
Yeah, I mainly dealt with one page ads and ~40pg newspaper documents. But stuff got real intense real fast for people dealing with 100+ page product catalogues and books.

This was also before XPress and InDesign migrated some effects into the actual app. Dropshadows, outerglows, other effects too all had to be done in Photoshop (unless you were lucky enough to have an XTension or plug-in. That meant waiting for layers to render the effect (because of ram). On large files that could take a while.

Believe it or not, Photoshop has a progress bar for applying a layer effect or filter. Got to see that A LOT in OS9.
 

repairedCheese

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It's just all kind of wild, because in my experience, most of the computers that ran 9 shipped with tens of megabytes, not hundreds of them, and never mind a full gigabyte. It looks like 9 can't handle more than 1.5gb, so I have to figure Apple didn't exactly plan for that much ram being used, either.
 
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fuchsdh

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It's just all kind of wild, because in my experience, most of the computers that ran 9 shipped with tens of megabytes, not hundreds of them, and never mind a full gigabyte. It looks like 9 can't handle more than 1.5gb, so I have to figure Apple didn't exactly plan for that much ram being used, either.
The lowest-end Mac Apple shipped with OS9 had 64MB, but they were shipping high-end models with 256MB around the same time with 1GB ceilings. A decade earlier you had machines with an ungodly amount of possible RAM (128MB) while they were selling 1 and 2MB machines.

I think it's better to think about it in terms of the delta between workloads these days has narrowed for the vast majority of use cases.
 
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jerwin

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Jun 13, 2015
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I finally maxed out the ram in my eMac, and while I mostly did it for OSX and possibly Linux, I booted it into OS 9, and got to watch Finder use all of 60mb. I don't think I've ever thrown this much ram at a Mac emulator, never mind the real classic Mac OS.
I remember putting 384 Meg in my icebook. Allocating a good percentage of it to Maple V helped somewhat.

I never did max out my Powermac G4-- but I rarely ran OS9 on it, anyway. Started out with 768 MB, and gradually added ram to end up at 1.75 Gig. When I abandoned it for an 2009 imac, the ram was the least of my worries.
 
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fuchsdh

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The low-end 500 MHz "Dual USB" iBook shipped with 64 MB and OS X (10.0.3). Ouch.
Yeah, not a long-lasting model :p

I recall getting my uncle an eMac as a new computer in 2003, and 128MB with Panther was definitely an unenjoyable experience in many respects. OS X definitely needed twice or three times the RAM as OS9 for smooth operation pretty quickly.
 

repairedCheese

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Yeah, not a long-lasting model :p

I recall getting my uncle an eMac as a new computer in 2003, and 128MB with Panther was definitely an unenjoyable experience in many respects. OS X definitely needed twice or three times the RAM as OS9 for smooth operation pretty quickly.
I started got this system with 512mb in it, so I never had to deal with that, but I can feel just how much more 1gb gets me, especially using apps in Leopard, which was never meant to be installed on this 700mhz system in the first place.
 

eyoungren

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I started got this system with 512mb in it, so I never had to deal with that, but I can feel just how much more 1gb gets me, especially using apps in Leopard, which was never meant to be installed on this 700mhz system in the first place.
:D

In my last job we did production work with a G4/450 running Leopard with around 1.75GB of ram. Adobe CS4, Office 2004, Acrobat 9, Suitcase Fusion 2 and QuarkXPress 8.5. Ad design, classifieds, legals, page layout, etc. A little slower, no denying that, but it got the job done on time.
 

repairedCheese

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:D

In my last job we did production work with a G4/450 running Leopard with around 1.75GB of ram. Adobe CS4, Office 2004, Acrobat 9, Suitcase Fusion 2 and QuarkXPress 8.5. Ad design, classifieds, legals, page layout, etc. A little slower, no denying that, but it got the job done on time.
That sounds brutal, but Leopard seems to reward more ram really well, so while I can only imagine how slow it was, once it was all loaded, it probably wasn't the absolute worst time. Apple sure didn't want 10.5 running on these slower computers, huh?
 

eyoungren

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That sounds brutal, but Leopard seems to reward more ram really well, so while I can only imagine how slow it was, once it was all loaded, it probably wasn't the absolute worst time. Apple sure didn't want 10.5 running on these slower computers, huh?
It was an effort waiting for apps to load, but yes, once they did they worked fairly smoothly. Of course, my coworker at the time was used to a more powerful PC (she had been brought into the back to help me) so she complained. I eventually gave her my G5 when the boss got me a Mac Pro and she was happier. But it was doable.
 
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AphoticD

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In my early career as a designer doing magazine layouts in QuarkXpress, InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop on OS9, I can recall my employer took the plunge to upgrade to one of the early G4 towers which had an unprecedented 512MB of RAM!

This machine was a HUGE upgrade over the PowerMac 7600 with 128MB of RAM, which we were running as our primary DTP station prior. I remember the half a gig of RAM seemed out of this world! There was no way we could max it out :D
 
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Amethyst1

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128MB with Panther was definitely an unenjoyable experience in many respects.
I'd have to boot my Panther install to check, but on Tiger or Leopard, Activity Monitor reports between 170 and 200 MB of RAM being "used" right after boot-up IIRC.
 

Dronecatcher

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I'd have to boot my Panther install to check, but on Tiger or Leopard, Activity Monitor reports between 170 and 200 MB of RAM being "used" right after boot-up IIRC.
My Powerbook on Tiger is showing 133Mb (out of 2Gb) used at the moment - I've found the less RAM you have, the less OSX uses idling - I consistently remember seeing it as low as 90Mb on less loaded machines.
 
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Amethyst1

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My Powerbook on Tiger is showing 133Mb (out of 2Gb) used at the moment - I've found the less RAM you have, the less OSX uses idling - I consisently remember seeing it as low as 90Mb on less loaded machines.
Good point - my observations were on a 2GB machine.
 

bunnspecial

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May 3, 2014
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I have a 9600/200MP with 1.5gb. I've never been able to even come close to filling up the RAM, and I've tried to do so by opening and manipulating big images in Photoshop.

On the other hand, I've had plenty of times where I've had "Out of memory" errors at ~20mb or so in System 7 on 68K. I often opt for System 6 in preference for System 7 on these computers, since on something like a Quadra 700 it gets costs prohibitive to go beyond 20mb(4mb on-board+4x4mb 30pin SIMMs) and System 6 has a whole lot less overhead.
 

repairedCheese

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Jan 13, 2020
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In my early career as a designer doing magazine layouts in QuarkXpress, InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop on OS9, I can recall my employer took the plunge to upgrade to one of the early G4 towers which had an unprecedented 512MB of RAM!

This machine was a HUGE upgrade over the PowerMac 7600 with 128MB of RAM, which we were running as our primary DTP station prior. I remember the half a gig of RAM seemed out of this world! There was no way we could max it out :D
My 700mhz eMac is already twice as fast as the earliest G4s, and I just doubled that much ram. This is why I'm left scratching my head for anything I could do in 9 that would use the full grunt of the machine.
I have a 9600/200MP with 1.5gb. I've never been able to even come close to filling up the RAM, and I've tried to do so by opening and manipulating big images in Photoshop.
And this doesn't really surprise me that much. It's kind of a shame it's this hard to find anything that was that ambitious with such an efficient system, to be honest.
 
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