Author Topic: Ultratek/33 (1999)  (Read 682 times)

macStuff

  • Guest
Ultratek/33 (1999)
« on: May 29, 2019, 03:03:34 AM »
Quote
Until the last few years, the only way to expand the storage capabilities of the Macintosh was to use expensive SCSI controllers, hard drives and peripherals, or utilize the motherboard's fixed IDE controller. This was until FirmTek developed the world's first ATA/EIDE host adapter solution for the Macintosh.

The UltraTek™/33 was introduced to an eager market in 1999, and garnered several accolades including MacWorld Editor's Choice for "Best Storage Hardware." With UltraTek/33 began FirmTek's tradition of enabling Macintosh users to expand beyond the motherboard's fixed IDE controller and utilize the latest ATA/EIDE drives and peripherals along with the latest ATA high-speed interface technologies.

no photos found yet of a card that is labeled as a ultratek/33
may have never been released to public


TurboMAX/ATA-33 is the retail equivalent (which was acard aec-6210)

or it could be similar to the Promise Ultra33 card (which was PDC20246)
this card dates back to 1997 https://www.anandtech.com/show/14
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 12:42:36 AM by macStuff »

Offline (S)ATAman

  • Veteran Member (100+ Posts)
  • ****
  • Posts: 120
  • New Member
Re: Ultratek/33 (1999)
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2019, 04:57:14 AM »
Quote
Until the last few years, the only way to expand the storage capabilities of the Macintosh was to use expensive SCSI controllers, hard drives and peripherals, or utilize the motherboard's fixed IDE controller. This was until FirmTek developed the world's first ATA/EIDE host adapter solution for the Macintosh.

The UltraTekô/33 was introduced to an eager market in 1999, and garnered several accolades including MacWorld Editor's Choice for "Best Storage Hardware." With UltraTek/33 began FirmTek's tradition of enabling Macintosh users to expand beyond the motherboard's fixed IDE controller and utilize the latest ATA/EIDE drives and peripherals along with the latest ATA high-speed interface technologies.

no photos found yet of a card that is labeled as a ultratek/33
may have never been released to public


TurboMAX/ATA-33 is the retail equivalent (which was acard aec-6210)

or it could be similar to the Promise Ultra33 card (which was PDC20246)
this card dates back to 1997 https://www.anandtech.com/show/14


The idea of the project was born around 1995, during a restaurant visit with my than-colleague, Roark Hilomen.
I was doing the ATA mass storage driver (later sold by FWB as part of their suite). Roark was on the SCSI part of the project.
I, too, supposed to be on that part. We hired Mike from Canada - he supposed to work on the ATA.

I was hired by FWB because in earlier days I had some (successful) attempts to write a more-less OK SCSI driver for Mac.
My original SCSI driver never was sold in any form, it was merely used by me before I immigrated to the U.S. around 1992.

There was no reason for FWB to put me on the ATA project - Mike supposed to be on that.

The fate made a funny twist: Mike appeared on the U.S. border with his (later-to-be) wife. Both are Canadians, but that time not married.
Mike had the immigration visa, his g/f did not. They were turned back from the border with the advice to marry ASAP, otherwise no visa for her.

That took some time, Normann was quite frustrated, so in pain he put me on the ATA project.
In a month or two Mike re-appeared, this time married. And he took my place in the SCSI realm of FWB. While I worked on his project.

That's the story - and of course I did complain to Roark and Mike, how immature and bad Apple's ATA management software ("ATA Manager") is, compared with the "SCSI Manager".

Everyone agreed (excluded Apple of course) - and someone (probably Roark?) noted to me: "hey, someone should write a SCSI Interface Module (=SIM) with ATA to SCSI translation".
That was in a Thai restaurant on the ElCamino Real, I remember the place and it was in late 1994 or early 1995.

At a later point, while in a that-time-wellknown disk company I had to look at Windows drivers. And it was hard NOT to notice that Microsoft did just exactly the same (and still does the same).
Than we got our hands on a nearly dead SIM from Advansys.

How to write a SIM was (and still is) a quite well-guarded secret. The SIM from Advansys was horrible but at least we (now I wasn't alone for that work) got some idea.

Soon, we joined ProMax. And UltraTek/33 was born. By necessity (it was the best ATA controller at that time) the controller from ACard was chosen.
The sponsor of the project was Charles McConathy, the owner of ProMax.

https://tinyurl.com/sbqozsf

(long link to the image)

Around 1998 ACard did not even know, how to pronounce the word "Macintosh". But in a year and half they had a team how to... hmmm... "borrow" the work.

ProMax kept buying FT cards later, pretty much until Charles did not pass away.


So the "UltraTek/33" alias "TurboMax/33" does NOT associate with either Promise or ACard.

Promise did not even have the SIM or macOS-X driver sources - ever. Only the factory flasher how to flash PC-style cards into Mac-style cards.

Offline mrhappy

  • Platinum Member (500+ Posts)
  • *****
  • Posts: 1041
  • new to the forums
Re: Ultratek/33 (1999)
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 10:30:45 AM »
Thanks for the stories/ history lesson (S)ATAman... Keep them coming! ;D

Offline Daniel

  • Gold Member (200+ Posts)
  • *****
  • Posts: 277
  • Programmer, Hacker, Thinker
Re: Ultratek/33 (1999)
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 02:27:30 PM »
Everyone agreed (excluded Apple of course) - and someone (probably Roark?) noted to me: "hey, someone should write a SCSI Interface Module (=SIM) with ATA to SCSI translation".

Your stories are entertaining and informative.

So did anyone other than apple ever write an ATA Interface Module at all?

Offline (S)ATAman

  • Veteran Member (100+ Posts)
  • ****
  • Posts: 120
  • New Member
Re: Ultratek/33 (1999)
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2019, 10:00:09 AM »
Everyone agreed (excluded Apple of course) - and someone (probably Roark?) noted to me: "hey, someone should write a SCSI Interface Module (=SIM) with ATA to SCSI translation".

Your stories are entertaining and informative.

So did anyone other than apple ever write an ATA Interface Module at all?
That was less entertainment and more stress of course. The only person ever on this planet to write a REAL "AIM" (ATA Interface Module) for MacOS 9.x was Larry Barras.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/larry-barras

He did a great work, but AIM was more difficult to market than SIM.
After that he joined Apple and worked there for about a decade.