Macintosh PowerBook 190

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Macintosh PowerBook 190
CPU: 33 MHz Motorola MC68LC040
Maximum RAM: 40 MiB
Expansion slots: 2 (PCMCIA Type II)
Supported OS: System 7.1.1 - Mac OS 8.1
Introduced:August 28 1995
Discontinued:September 1996
MSRP:$1650 (190), $2200 (190cs) (US)
Full Specifications

Aptly codenamed Omega, the final machine in the PowerBook 1xx series, the PowerBook 190 drew a line underneath Apple's use of Motorola 680x0 CPUs.


With the exception of the PowerBook 100, all of the PowerBook 1xx machines had roughly followed the same case design: big chunky grey plastic. They'd also all been based around the Motorola 68030 running at various speeds. They were a solid, dependable set of machines and had served Apple well. The final machine in the original 1xx series would not only move away from the favoured processor, but would also serve as the last gasp for the 680x0 based laptops in a Mac world that had now totally switched over to the new PowerPC CPUs.

Apple's desktop machines had been making the switch to the PowerPC chip ever since the release of the Performa 6100 in 1994 and it was inevitable that the same technology would appear in the portable Mac sooner or later. In the shape of the PowerBook 5300, the world could now see the raw power of the new CPU. In that same shape, they could also see the slightly less powerful old processor in the guise of the Motorola 68LC040.

Sharing the same case design as the 5300, rather than any of the other PowerBook 1xx machines, the PowerBook 190 actually had much in common with its PowerPC brother. Not only were both machines black, as opposed to the charcoal grey seen on all PowerBooks up to that point, they both had PCMCIA slots (not seen on any other 1xx machine) and could happily swap parts; specifically screen and video cards – doing so adds external video to the 190. In fact, the 190 was more akin to a 5300 with a different processor, rather than a 1xx.

As the final machine in the series – indeed, the final machine in any series based on the 680x0 processor – the 190 could have taken the brand out on a high, but instead was more of a last gasp. Whilst the 5300 used an active-matrix screen, the 190 used the passive-matrix equivalent – with the predictable result of machine usage not being a particularly pleasant experience. The internal modem and Ethernet cards were eliminated, although an Ethernet port could be added in the form of a PCMCIA card, but the 16 bit bus used by the card meant that performance was about 25% lower than in the PowerBook 540, which used a 32-bit bus. Finally, the 68LC040 was simply blown away by the newer processor. On the plus side, it did have a higher memory ceiling than most of the other 1xx machines: 40 MiB.

Though hardly ending on a high, the PowerBook 190 was a decent machine. Yes, it wasn't going to set the world afire, but by sharing so may parts with the PowerBook 5300, could be more easily upgraded to not only a better screen, but also a PowerPC CPU, infra-red and external video ports, and the possibility of running System Software all the way up to version 8.1. Overall, the 190 was solid and reliable and, somehow, managed to avoid the majority of problems that befell its PowerPC sibling.

Full Specifications

  • General
    • CPU: 33 MHz Motorola MC68LC040
    • ROM: 2 MiB
    • Bus Speed: 33 MHz
    • Data Path: 32-bit
    • RAM Type: (70 ns)
    • Standard RAM: 4 MiB - 8 MiB
    • RAM Onboard: 4 MiB - 8 MiB
    • RAM Slots: 1
    • Maximum RAM: 40 MiB
    • Cache: 8 KiB (L1)
  • I/O & Expansion
    • ADB: 1
    • Serial: 1
    • SCSI: 1 (HDI-30)
    • Audio In: Mini-jack
    • Audio Out: 16-bit stereo 22 kHz (mini-jack)
    • Built-in Speaker: Mono
    • Other Slots: 2 (PCMCIA Type II)
  • Storage
    • Hard Drive: 500 MiB
    • Hard Drive Type: IDE
    • Floppy Drive: One 3.5" 1.44 MiB Superdrive
  • Video
    • Built-in Display: 9.5" 4-bit 640×480 passive matrix (190) / 10.4" 8-bit 640×480 colour passive matrix (190cs)
    • Max Resolution: 640×480 (4-bit) (190) / 640×480 (8-bit) (190cs)
    • Standard VRAM: 1 MiB
    • VRAM Onboard: 1 MiB
    • VRAM Slots: 0
    • Maximum VRAM: 1 MiB
  • Miscellaneous
    • Codename: Omega
    • Gestalt ID: 122
    • Power: NiCad, 2.5 Ah
    • Case Style: PowerBook 190
    • Dimensions: 11.5" x 8.5" x 2.0" (W x D x H)
    • Weight: 6.0 lbs.
    • Mac OS Support: System 7.1.1 - Mac OS 8.1
    • Introduced: August 28 1995
    • Introduced: September 1996
    • MSRP: $1650 (190), $2200 (190cs) (US)

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