Wow Steve, FireWire sounds really cool! When’s it coming to the MacBook Pro? - Macenstein

Wow Steve, FireWire sounds really cool! When’s it coming to the MacBook Pro?

So far the only regret I have about my new MacBook Pro is the lack of a FireWire 400 port. It’s not a huge deal, but its absence became immediately apparent when I began attempting to transfer the files from my old white MacBook (which has FireWire 400) to the new MBP which does not. Luckily I was able to find a spare piece of Ethernet cable at work and use the migration assistant that way, but during the MUCH SLOWER 6.5 hour migration, I had plenty of time to count up just how many old FireWire drives, card readers, video cameras, and peripherals I owned that I would no longer be able to directly access via my new top-of-the-line machine.

The sad death of FireWire 400 on the Mac reminded me of its joyous birth. The video below is from the infamous 1999 MacWorld Stevenote where Jobs introduces FireWire to the crowd, explaining the lameness of SCSI, and how magical FireWire is (I still remember the red VST drives that we drooled over then – and I think I still have one somewhere  (not that I can hook it to my new MBP…)). While I certainly understand that progress is progress, I’m not entirely sure this was the year Steve should have decided that FireWire 400 is the SCSI of old. As my nearly full-work-day migration illustrated, sometimes it’s not wise to drop an older technology until there is a better solution available.

But all bitching aside about the changes i would make if I Ran the Zoo, this is one of my all time favorite Stevenote clips because it is so rare these days to see Steve tangled in wires and playing with in cables. Nowadays Steve likes to pull thin gadgets from his pockets and various envelopes with few, if any, cables.

23 Responses to “Wow Steve, FireWire sounds really cool! When’s it coming to the MacBook Pro?”
  1. TheCos says:

    Wow, a plump Steve! How come the press didn’t go crazy speculating on his health then? That’s a weird cough-thing he had going on.

  2. Jerry DeGroff says:

    A Firewire 800 to 400 adapter is only $10. You should have bought one at the time you bought the new Macbook Pro.

  3. RL says:

    Aren’t there cheap adaptors and cables that go from 800 to 400 firewire that you could have used?

  4. Looks like Jerry’s got a case of the “should have’s”. Maybe Apple should have thrown one of those bad boys in the box. It probably only would have cost them $2.
    -The Doc

  5. Listen guys, I’m an impulse buyer. Who has time to think about adapters? 🙂
    -The Doc

  6. Karl Kraft says:

    Wait a minute. The firewire 400 you lust after is only 400 Mbps. The ethernet on the MacBook Pro you just bought, as well as all MacBooks back to the 1.83 Ghz are all 1000Mbps. So the ethernet would actually be faster than the firewire.

  7. Karl,
    True. I can’t figure out why, but the Ethernet migration took over twice as long as my subsequent firewire migration from my wife’s old G4 tower to the MacBook (and she had more data). I used a Cat-6 cable, should I have used an ethernet switch? I assume the MacBooks can auto switch the connection and a switch would not have sped things up…
    -The Doc

  8. Zealot says:

    Haw haw. You folks and your newfangled toys. My MBP has one port of each speed.

  9. dizzy says:

    I’ve just really joined the “apple world” with a new 13″ macbook (to go with my iPod & iPhone) after years of resistance. I did need it to create apps without hacking my PC, but still it’s pretty cool.

    Anyway even with my beginning apple knowledge this seems like this is something apple always does? They totally removed FW from the 13″. Didn’t they remove the 3.5″ floppy before removing floppy was cool? The macbook air seems to be doing that as well by removing the optical drive, which makes sense as more and more apps and content are downloaded from the internet. So yeah, I guess the growing pains suck, but it has to be done at some point.

    Here is the adapter everyone is talking about Sonnet FireWire 400 to 800 Adapter

  10. Sonny B. says:

    Actually, AFAIK, we could only get around 300-350 Mbps pushing gig ethernet. The computer has to manage the TCP stack and causes a bunch overhead. There is probably less overhead in FW400 which would probably get near the theoretical limit of 400Mbps.

    I also bought a FW800 to FW400 cable to hook up my various FW devices.

  11. Dave-O says:

    This is a really silly complaint, Doc. I had the same problem, my Time Machine drive is FW 400 and I wanted to use it to configure my new MBP. The Apple Retail Stores don’t carry 9 pin to 6 pin cables and the online store showed a 2-3 week delivery time. Fortunately, I have another external disk that has FireWire 400 and 800 ports. I was able to plug the Time Machine disk into the other external disk, and hook that disk to my MBP with a FW 800 cable. That flexibility is the reason I think Apple didn’t bother.

    Yes the cable could have been included, but I guess you missed the memo–Apple is doing away with the extra crap people toss in a closet and never use.

  12. Yeah, apparently I did miss that memo, which is odd, as I get all the Apple PR stuff…
    I’m not going to fight this one, you guys win. I will admit it is likely not going to be too big a deal, and odds are, aside from that initial migration, I won’t miss FW400 more than once or twice a year. I am a gadget whore and upgrade my stuff constantly, so I suppose I should be used to the pile of growing “legacy” crap I have that works fine, but just isn’t compatible with my gear.

    -The Doc

  13. Sean says:

    Dr. M,

    The reason your transfer from the G4 to the old Macbook was faster was because the hard drive in the G4 was 7200rpm,

    Faster hard drive, faster data transfer.

  14. Hey Steve, I’m not buying that. The slowest drive speed should be the limiting factor no matter what, so since the same MacBook was used in both cases (once pulling from, once pushing to), no data should ever have been moving faster than 5400. Also, the MBP has 3gigabit serial ATA, so if anything THAT should have been faster that the G4 Tower, no?
    Ahh who cares, I’ve already admitted I was wrong to complain this time! just watch the video and enjoy!
    -The Doc

  15. Peter says:

    “Listen guys, I’m an impulse buyer. Who has time to think about adapters?”

    Remember the old days when Apple sold printers and would actually put cables in the box so that you didn’t get it home and suddenly discover that you needed a cable and had to go back to the store to get one?

    Ah, those were the days…

  16. Tom Foolery says:

    check that out eh… 6GB

    sign me up for one of them

  17. sd says:

    Just so things are clear: you don’t actually need an adapter, per se. Firewire 800 and firewire 400 are completely compatible. The only difference is the physical plug. They sell wires that have an 800 plug at one end and a 400 plug at the other end.

    That’s why Apple dropped FW400 from the new MBPs: why have two ports that are identical, except one is inferior? Since the superior FW800 port can easily be used with all of your old FW400 peripherals, that’s all you need. And as peripherals move up to FW800 as well, you’ll be set for the future.

  18. FW1600 and 3200 are going to rock!

  19. odin says:

    Ethernet doesn’t ever hit it’s theoretical limit. USB 2.0 usually transfers files faster 🙁 That’s why firewire is cool, it comes closest to it’s limit than either.

  20. Joseph says:

    Wow…video was just 9 years ago. Hard to believe we once lived in that reality. Wonder what the Steve Jobs of 1999 would say if he could see where Apple is today. Probably “boom”. 😉

  21. Tom Ward says:

    It sucks how Apple removes features and tells us “You don’t need that” … I guess I’m no longer their target audience.

  22. darrell says:

    was there that much fuss when Apple announced the ADC cable on the arcylic cinema displays?

  23. bc says:

    Otherworld Computing also has a FW800 to FW400 adapter for only $10 (they also have the Sonnet one for $15).

    But they also have 800 to 400 direct cables, no adapter needed, $9 for a 1ft long one (one came with a recent FW800 drive I bought).

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