Macintosh PowerBook 550c

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Macintosh PowerBook 550c
CPU: 33 MHz 68040
RAM: 100ns Pseudostatic RAM, 8 MB standard (0 onboard plus 1 slots), 36 MB max
Hard drive: 750 MB SCSI
Form factor: laptop
OS: (7.1.1-8.1)
Available: May 30, 1995-,
MSRP: US$4840

Fifth machine in the PowerBook 5XX series that was only ever released into the Japanese market, sporting a full blown Motorola 68040 processor (rather than the 68LC040 seen in the other four machines) and a bigger screen.


Apple's decision to release all four machines in the new PowerBook 5XX series was hardly unusual - the fact that they never upgraded or re-visited the series certainly was though. While the Duo and PowerBook 1XX machines were improved, tweaked and improved, the 5XX machines were released and then seemingly forgotten about. This was certainly the case in the majority of the world but in Japan, a fifth machine was added to the series just over a year after the introduction of the 520, 520c, 540 and 540c.

Unlike the rest of the PowerBook 5XX series which were all very closely tied together (all used the same processor running at either 25MHz or 33Mhz, all used a 9.5" screen, and all came with 4Mb of memory as standard), the 550c not only used a bigger screen than anything else (a massive 10.4" active matrix), had a bigger hard drive than anything else, and had 8Mb as standard, but it also boasted a full-blown Motorola 68040 processor. This not only meant a dedicated floating point unit (FPU) but also an 040 PDS expansion slot.

Elsewhere the machine was very much more of the same, with the exansion bay/second battery slot all present and correct, onboard ethernet as per the other machines, option to upgrade to the PowerPC chips etc. The processor, screen and limited market though made the machine highly desirable and 550cs on the second hand market often demand seemingly ridiculous prices.

Despite only being released to a limited market, the 550c was the final laptop machine released that was based on the 68040 processor (only the PowerBook 190 would use a 680X0 processor before the entire product line switched to PowerPC).

Full Specifications

  • CPU: 33MHz Motorola 68LC040
  • FPU: None
  • ROM: 2Mb
  • RAM: 8Mb - 36Mb
  • Display: 10.4" 8-bit 640x480 colour active matrix
  • Resolution: 640x480 (8 bit), 640x400 (16 bit)
  • Audio: 16-bit 22KHz stereo
  • Floppy: 1x1.44Mb
  • Hard drive: 750Mb
  • Drive bay(s): 1x2.5" third-height
  • Size (HxWxD): 2.3" x 11.5" x 9.7"
  • Weight: 7.1 lb (both batteries), 6.3 lb (one battery)
  • Gestalt ID: 72
  • Addressing: 32 bit
  • Battery: One (or two) Nickel-Metal-Hydride
  • Expansion slots: Proprietary modem, 040 PDS slot
  • Ports: 2xSerial, SCSI(HDI-30), 1xAAUI, 1xADB, 1xVideo, Audio(Out), Audio(in)
  • Introduced: 30/05/1995
  • Retired:
  • Cost: $4840
  • System: Mac OS 7.1.1 - 8.1
  • Code name(s): Blackbird, Bonsai
  • Upgrade path: None