Macintosh PowerBook 170

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Macintosh PowerBook 170
CPU: 25 MHz 68030
RAM: 100ns Pseudostatic RAM, 2 MB standard (0 onboard plus 1 slots), 8 MB max
Hard drive: 20-40 MB SCSI
Form factor: laptop
OS: (7.0.1-7.6.1)
Available: October 21, 1991-October 19, 1992
MSRP: US$4600

Launched alongside the PowerBook 100 and PowerBook 140, the PowerBook 170 was aimed at the very top end of the portable Macintosh market, a fact ably demonstrated by it's faster speed, better screen and higher price tag.


The launch of the PowerBook 1XX series had shown the world that Apple could make a portable Macintosh that actually was portable (unlike the Mac Portable which, at 15.8 lbs, was anything but portable). Released in October 1991, the new series of machines were small,compact, lightweight and could actually be used 'on the road'. Available in three different flavours, the new PowerBook series had something for everyone with the PowerBook 100 aimed at the buyer on a budget, the 140 filling the middle ground, and the 170 aimed at the high-end user.

The PowerBook 170 shared several things with its siblings, but while the similarities to the PowerBook 100 were slight (they didn't even share the same case) the similarities to the PowerBook 140 were more obvious. Both incorporated an internal floppy drive (the PowerBook 100 opted for an external drive), both used the same slightly bulkier case, both had the same memory configuration and ceiling and both used the 68030 CPU and a 9.8" black&white display. There though the similarities ended.

While the 140 pushed its processor at 16MHz, the 170 ran its 68030 at an impressive 25MHz which instantly gave it a speed boost. On top of this it also included a dedicated floating point unit (FPU) in the shape of the ever-dependable Motorola 68882 (making it nearly twice as fast as the 140 in everyday use). The 170 though wasn't just a speed demon as it also looked better through its use of an active-matrix screen (as opposed to the passive-matrix display used in the 140). Yes it may have used more power (reducing the battery life) but the screen was sharp, solid and looked amazing.

Eventually phased out in October 1992, the 170 did briefly re-appear in 1994 in a special edition 'white' version and, later still, in a multi-colour guise for the Japanese market.

Full Specifications

  • CPU: 25MHz Motorola 68030
  • FPU: 25MHz Motorola 68882
  • ROM: 1Mb
  • RAM: 2Mb - 8Mb
  • Display: Internal 9.8" b&w active-matrix LCD
  • Resolution: 640x400 pixels
  • Audio: 8-bit 22KHz stereo
  • Floppy: 1x1.44Mb
  • Hard drive: 20-40Mb
  • Drive bay(s): 1x2.5" third-height
  • Size (HxWxD): 2.25" x 11.25" x 9.3"
  • Weight: 6.8 lb
  • Gestalt ID: 21
  • Addressing: 32 bit
  • Battery: NiCad, 2.5 Ah
  • Expansion slots: Proprietory modem slot
  • Ports: 2xSerial, SCSI(HDI-30), 1xADB, Audio(out), Audio(in)
  • Introduced: 21/10/1991
  • Retired: 19/10/1992
  • Cost: $4600
  • System: Mac OS 7.0.1 - 7.6.1
  • Code name(s): Road Warrior, Tim
  • Upgrade path: None