Macintosh PowerBook 100

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Macintosh PB100.jpg
Macintosh PowerBook 100
CPU: 16 MHz Motorola MC68HC000
RAM Type:Pseudostatic RAM
Maximum RAM: 8 MiB
Supported OS: System 6.0.8L - System 7.5.5
Introduced:October 21 1991
Discontinued:August 3 1993
MSRP:$2500 (US)
Full Specifications

The first in the series of PowerBook machines and the first truly portable Macintosh, the PowerBook 100 (launched alongside the PowerBook 140 and 170) not only matched the existing Mac Portable in terms of power and features but also slashed over 10 lbs and $4000 off the package.


Although PC users had been able to take their machines 'on the road' for several years already, in 1991 Apple users were provided with only one option: the woefully ill-named Macintosh Portable. The Portable had certainly looked great from a technical perspective and did give users exactly what they needed, it was just a shame that the machine weighed in at nearly 16l bs and cost anywhere upwards of $6500. Realising that they were being left behind and that their efforts to date had been –to say the least – poor, Apple set about redesigning the concept of a portable Mac.

Actually, Apple passed the buck and handed the task of slimming down the Mac Portable to Sony, whom immediately took the existing machine and tried to shrink every component that they possibly could. The full size keyboard gave way to a more space and weight conscious version: the hard disk went from being a 3.5" drive (with a custom interface) to a more industry standard 2.5" SCSI drive; the floppy drive was removed altogether, becoming an optional external drive – priced at a wallet hurting $200 – hooked via one of the machine's new interface connectors. Even the system plastics were replaced with smaller, lightweight versions.

The result was a machine that was not only just over one third of the weight (5.1 lbs as opposed to 15.8 lbs), but also considerably cheaper, coming in at a mere $2500, compared to the Portable's extortionate $6500 price tag (or $7299 with hard drive). Cased in dark grey, rather than the Macintosh Portable's white/platinum, this new 'PowerBook' machine not only provided Mac power on the move, but also looked far more capable of taking on the PC laptops and notebooks of the time. Yet this wasn't a one hit wonder and the new machine was actually one of the three new 'PowerBooks' launched simultaneously (the others being the PowerBook 140 and PowerBook 170). The lowest specced machine of the three, the PowerBook 100 was the ultra-slim portable Mac that users had been after from day one.

In terms of performance, the PowerBook 100 was on a par with the Macintosh Portable; they both used the same Motorola 68HC000 CPU running at 16 MHz, they both had relatively small RAM ceilings (the Portable could go up to 9 MiB, the PowerBook 100 up to 8 MiB – N.B. The PowerBook 100 supports a 'persistent' RAM disk that can be used to boot from; it's lightning fast and far kinder to the batteries!); they both used B&W displays; and they both allowed users to hook up their existing SCSI devices – even if the PowerBook 100 used a new HDI-30 connector and HDI-20 for SCSI devices and the floppy disk drive, respectively. Yet there was one thing the PowerBook 100 allowed for, that its predecessor didn't: the hard drive could be used in 'SCSI Disk Mode', thus allowing another machine to treat the PowerBook 100's hard drive as an external hard disk. This was the first time that this feature had been seen – even the PowerBook 140 and 170 didn't have it.

Although smaller, cheaper, and better specced than the Mac Portable in some areas (proper audio for example), the PowerBook 100 was not a great seller and it was only when Apple pulled the plug and dropped the price to under $1000 (to clear stock) that sales of the machine picked up.

Full Specifications

  • General
    • CPU: 16 MHz Motorola MC68HC000
    • ROM: 256 KiB
    • Bus Speed: 25 MHz
    • Data Path: 16-bit
    • RAM Type: Pseudostatic RAM (100 ns)
    • Standard RAM: 4 MiB
    • RAM Onboard: 2 MiB
    • RAM Slots: 1
    • Maximum RAM: 8 MiB
  • I/O & Expansion
    • ADB: 1
    • Serial: 1
    • SCSI: 1 (HDI-30)
    • Floppy Connector: 1 (HDI-20)
    • Audio Out: 8-bit mono 22 KHz (mini-jack)
    • Built-in Speaker: Mono
  • Storage
    • Hard Drive: 20 MiB - 80 MiB
    • Hard Drive Type: SCSI
  • Video
    • Built-in Display: Internal 9" B&W LCD
    • Max Resolution: 640×400 (1-bit)
  • Miscellaneous
    • Codename: Asahi, Derringer, Rosebud, Classic
    • Gestalt ID: 24
    • Power: 17W, 2 amps
    • Case Style: PowerBook 100
    • Dimensions: 11.0" x 8.5" x 1.8" (W x D x H)
    • Weight: 5.1 lbs.
    • Mac OS Support: System 6.0.8L - System 7.5.5
    • Introduced: October 21 1991
    • Introduced: August 3 1993
    • MSRP: $2500 (US)

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