Macintosh PowerBook 150

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Macintosh PB170.jpg
Macintosh PowerBook 150
CPU: 33 MHz Motorola MC68030
RAM Type:Duo RAM
Maximum RAM: 40 MiB
Supported OS: System 7.1.1 - Mac OS 7.6.1
Introduced:July 18 1994
Discontinued:October 14 1995
MSRP:$1300 (US)
Full Specifications

Replacement for the PowerBook 145B, the PowerBook 150 not only increased performance, but came with a higher resolution screen, improved battery life, an IDE hard drive and a far bigger memory ceiling.


The launch of the PowerBook 140 and its replacements (in the guise of the PowerBook 145 and then the PowerBook 145B) had always been considered the 'economy' machines in the PowerBook 1xx series. Offering decent performance at a decent price, rather than high-end performance at a high-end price, this 'sub-series' had certainly grown, but it was in many respects little more than a couple of increases in raw processor speed. The PowerBook 150, though still the last 'economy' machine in the 1xx series, certainly did more than just boost processor speed.

The Motorola 68030, stalwart of the PowerBook 1xx series, might have been all present and correct in the new 150, but Apple decided to run it at a very healthy 33 MHz. When priced the same as the older (and slower) PowerBook 145B, this might have seemed like a bargain to buyers, but the 150 had far more up its sleeve, both good and bad. The memory ceiling of 8 MiB, that had been in place ever since the PowerBook 140 had been launched, was well and truly smashed and the 150 used the same memory mechanism present in the all-new Duo series. It may have meant that memory upgrades from the earlier 1xx machines wouldn't work, but the Duo's memory allowed the 150 to be expanded all the way up to 40 MiB – an amount that would allow most users to do pretty much anything they could dream of.

Elsewhere, the 640×400 pixel screen was upgraded to a far more 'standard' 640×480 – even if the screen itself was reduced from 9.8" to 9.5" (this had the benefit of reducing the machine's overall weight) which used an unusual 2-bit display depth, allowing it to display 4 shades of grey. To the user, this not only meant more desktop space, but helped to reduce battery drain, thus allowing the 150 to run about 30 minutes longer than its predecessors.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all upgrades and good news. In an effort to cut costs, the 150 became the first PowerBook to use an internal IDE hard drive, as opposed to the usual internal SCSI hard drive. It meant lower cost and higher capacity, but it did have a slight impact on performance and reliability. Elsewhere the cost-cutting was more tangible, as the 150 shipped without an ADB connection (the only PowerBook 1xx machine not to have one) and the display was an especially cheap and nasty passive matrix affair. While the display was spartan, the lack of an ADB port meant that many peripherals that used the socket for power (e.g. Ethernet adaptors, rather than just mice and keyboards) simply couldn't be used at all.

Full Specifications

  • General
    • CPU: 33 MHz Motorola MC68030
    • ROM: 1 MiB
    • Bus Speed: 33 MHz
    • Data Path: 32-bit
    • RAM Type: Duo RAM (70 ns)
    • Standard RAM: 4 MiB
    • RAM Onboard: None
    • RAM Slots: 1
    • Maximum RAM: 40 MiB
    • Cache: ½ KiB (L1)
  • I/O & Expansion
    • Serial: 1
    • SCSI: 1 (HDI-30)
    • Audio Out: 8-bit stereo 22 KHz (mini-jack)
    • Built-in Speaker: Mono
  • Storage
    • Hard Drive: 80 MiB - 250 MiB
    • Hard Drive Type: IDE
    • Floppy Drive: One 3.5" 1.44 MiB SuperDrive
  • Video
    • Built-in Display: Internal 9.5" B&W passive-matrix LCD
    • Max Resolution: 640×480 (2-bit)
  • Miscellaneous
    • Codename: JeDI (Just Did It)
    • Gestalt ID: 115
    • Power: NiCad, 2.5 Ah
    • Case Style: PowerBook 140
    • Dimensions: 11.25" x 9.3" x 2.25" (W x D x H)
    • Weight: 5.8 lbs.
    • Mac OS Support: System 7.1.1 - Mac OS 7.6.1
    • Introduced: July 18 1994
    • Introduced: October 14 1995
    • MSRP: $1300 (US)

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