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#1 2014-09-20 21:26:56

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,404

PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

I know it's considered heresy by many, but I'll definitely go for the latter: I used PBs IRL for business and personal productivity beginning with a remaindered PB100. It's my position that the 150 "looks" a lot worse to "spoiled" collectors in hindsight than it ever really was while it was a shipping product. If you've got a sampling of full featured, active-matrix lidded 'Books for comparison  .  .  .  well  .  .  .  we ARE spoiled now. Back in the day I most certainly wasn't.

http://lowendmac.com/1994/powerbook-150/
http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/p … ok150.html

Debunking RoadApple objections:

ADB deletion: Even as a hard core rodent herder for my PB100 and later the used Duo230 in my bag circa 1994, I can't fault Apple for dropping ADB from the spec. It's an economy LAPTOP for goodness sake.  NOBODY but the most well-heeled of Duo fanatics used a PB as a main machine in 1994, as is common in today's world. By 1994, all a PB modem was good for was faxing, a quick (albeit slow) check of email, Compuserve's Business Newsgroups and maybe the likes of the NYMUG BBS in the Big Apple.

ADB PTO (Power take off, as in agricultural tractors) wasn't really necessary for the external 33.6 and later 56kbps PowerModem I carried with my 230 and  2300c. Mosaic may have been released a year earlier than the 150, but the real internet, newsgroups and its BBS communities were still going strong. The WWWait was dawning, but "internet" adoption was only just taxiing out of the hangar and wouldn't really take off for years. Heck, Ethernet had yet to be universally adopted by users bottomfeeding the PowerBook line.

Per Wikipedia:
500px-Internet_users_per_100_inhabitants_ITU.svg.png
Internet users per 100 inhabitants
Source: International Telecommunications Union

The 150 was "good enough" at TeleCom when untethered (power & add-ons) in the field and there was all sort of SCSI based solutions for Ethernet or second Monitor if such were really necessary in a motel room, for instance. Again, Lappy's weren't commonly used as primary computers for base station use. If you had a PowerBook, dollars to doughnuts you had a Quadra better suited to any task as your main workstation and a hand-me-down Mac_II series machine at home.

Apple used a pretty poor LCD: YMMV, but the grayscale 150's LCD looks way better than my PB100's B&W LCD.  You could have spent an extra grand to get the best active matrix grayscale LCD Apple ever shipped on a comparable performance Duo 250 from the year before. That's the one I dreamed of while using the 230 to do billing at the pool club with the family back then, but the PB150 upped the 250's pixel count ante by another 20% to beat every 100 Series PowerBook ever shipped. More be way better than prettier for the Spreadsheets and Graphics I did in the field on my PBs. Duos had to wait until the 2300c for 640x480 and if you sprang for the Blackbird520, you got the pixels and grayscale on a nicer, but still passive matrix LCD.

Again, we're spoiled as collectors, but even with its low-budget passive-matrix LCD, the PB150 was nothing short of amazing at its price point in 1994.

KILLER features:

IDE HDD: the only one one in the 100 series, the "techies" poo-poo'd it as a "cheaper/slower" alternative to SCSI. POO-POO! As always, that bit of tripe was based on the common misconception that SCSI transfer rates in WorkStation class systems must automagically relate somehow to the anemic (pathetic, actually) transfer rates of Apple's developmentally challenged (friggin' retarded!) sub-standard SCSI implementation on the Mac.

I haven't tested it, but I just cannot imagine the IDE in the 150 could be any slower than SCSI in the comparable 145 series or even a high end 100 series PowerBook. Less expensive IDE didn't mean "lower performance" in 1994, it meant economies of scale driven competitive pricing, something Apple ignored itself and ruined chances for achieving them for its expansion card producers at every turn.  D*U*M*B*! It also translated into larger size drives for less back in the day and cute lil' thingamajig adapters stuffed in there as silent replacements today.

Memory, memory and more memory! Every other 100 series PowerBook pales in comparison to the 150's Duo Expansion module compatibility, PERIOD!

Did I mention all that extra real estate on the LCD? tongue

That's my take on it! Put yourself in a PowerBook buyer's shoes in the year 1994. Does the extra money for a "better PB" go toward that, a better monitor, memory or a VidCard for your main workstation  .  .  .

.  .  .  or maybe a little vacation for your family?

You choose! wink



p.s.: forgot to mention that the PB150 was the lightest of the full scale 100 series with a serious boost in battery life included. Also, a missing @$$FLAP looks much better when done by design rather than by catastrophic plastics failure. big_smile

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#2 2014-09-20 22:56:03

mcdermd
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From: Corvallis, OR
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 961
Website

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

But finding a working 150 in this day and age proved so much more difficult than any other 100 series book for me.


Daily Drivers: 27" iMac 2.8 GHz Quad-Core i7 (Late 2009), 21.5" iMac 2.7GHz Quad-Core i5 (Late 2013), 11" Macbook Air 1.6 GHz i5 (Mid-2011)
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#3 2014-09-20 23:06:18

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,404

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

That's cuz they're da BOMBE! Did you ever get one up and running?


edit: just looked at the PowerBook 150 DevNote because everymac said:

"The Apple Macintosh PowerBook 150 -- which uses a variant of the PowerBook Duo 230 motherboard --"

I wouldn't have put much stock in that had it been a blurb on LEM, but this sounded plausible and sure enough, Apple said:

"The PowerBook 150 computer is designed to be the lowest cost all-in-one PowerBook
computer solution available from Apple Computer, Inc. To achieve this goal, the
PowerBook 150 system architecture incorporates computer technologies from the
all-in-one design of the PowerBook 145B and the expandable digital hardware design of
the PowerBook Duo 230."

This started because I was curious about how Apple tacked IDE onto the 150 as I wrote my mini-article above.

Have you got one of your 150s open to take pics?

On page 1-5: the Block Diagram calls this kluge the"IDE Control Circuit."
On page 1-7: it's shown as a single component on the bottom side of the MoBo that's labeled "IDE Controller"

Now, Apple didn't build a custom controller for IDE now did they?

Curiouser and curiouser  .  .  .  roll

Last edited by jt (2014-09-20 23:59:33)

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#4 2014-09-20 23:53:50

Mk.558
Member
Registered: 2014-07-08
Posts: 160

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

Just don't ask where and how much you'd have to pay to get one of those 36MB RAM cards...let alone one of those 48MB ones for a 280/2300c.

It doesn't boot System 6, so that's a hit right there. May as well just settle for a 2300cTB, or a 1400c! And Duos aren't built very well at all, being tainted by a blight of Spindler Plastic! (Well, actually, all the PowerBooks in this range have the disease.)

At least with the 1400, you get a built-in CD and IDE: IDE > SCSI.


SE/30 Cap Replacement http://tinyurl.com/mjf24zs
Classic Mac Networking v3.1 http://applefool.com/se30/
"Linux assumes you know exactly what you are doing." -oboedad55, ubuntuforums.org

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#5 2014-09-21 00:08:41

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,404

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

BZZZZEEERRRTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 100 series "RoadApple" to Apple comparisons only please.

It'll only take a 36MB Duo Memory Module at the maximum, but it only needs 12MB to top the "Top-o-the-Line" 100 series PowerBook's 14MB Limit. By way of comparison, what does a 10MB 180c Memory Card go for anyway?



edit: the PB100 was System 7 only in the USA! Was it England where they released the L(Limey?) rev of 6.0.8 for the PowerBook 100? Did any of the other 100 series boot into System 6 as a standard release feature?

Last edited by jt (2014-09-21 00:12:31)

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#6 2014-09-21 00:27:47

LCGuy
Administrator
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-13
Posts: 812

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

jt wrote:

ADB PTO (Power take off, as in agricultural tractors)

Hah, as someone who grew up on a farm I lol'd hard at that smile

Anyway, really I think if you have a decent amount of RAM in one, the 150 as it is could be quite a nice machine. However it'd be even nicer if it had a port for video output...but at the same time, as a 1400 owner I also remember that Apple regarded video output as a somewhat premium feature.

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#7 2014-09-21 01:16:21

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,404

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

Me farm boy too! smile

There's no sense talking about the next couple of generations. They're always bigger, better, faster, nicer with feature upgrades until you get to a behemoth like my Pismo/500!

Beater has a G3 to go with its nice KBD and one day I'll drop the RAM down a peg (après-SSD install for Silicon Disk VRAM upgrade) to fit the 16bit VidCard into my pet 1400c.

We're talking "best of the 100 series RoadWarriors" here, not WarDrivers one, two or three generations hence. The 2300c and the 5300ce came the year after the PB150, and the 1400/117(No Cache Trash) the year after that. Finally, three years later, decent 1400/133-166/Cache models finished the NuBus PPC PB Architecture relays while the 3400c (2400c for lucky folks in Japan) ushered in the PCI Architecture era for the PowerBook.

When you think about it, the 1400 was never meant to be top of the line, it was an economical transitional machine meant for students, just as the PowerBook 150 was a transitional business oriented machine with economy in mind before students had adopted the laptop.

Transitional models get the best and the worst. The G3 upgrade slot in the 1400 was as awesome as Duo RAM was for the 150  .  .  .

.  .  .  but the 1400 got the worst lid plastics in history too. tongue

.

Last edited by jt (2014-09-21 01:30:31)

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#8 2014-09-21 01:52:39

Mk.558
Member
Registered: 2014-07-08
Posts: 160

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

jt wrote:

BZZZZEEERRRTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 100 series "RoadApple" to Apple comparisons only please.

I am seriously infected with a Practicalius Disorder. In effect, if it's a '030, it has to boot System 6, otherwise it's worthless, if it's an '040, it's a waste of time, if it's a 60* it's nothing compared to a G4 (or fast G3) that can boot OS 9.

jt wrote:

edit: the PB100 was System 7 only in the USA! Was it England where they released the L(Limey?) rev of 6.0.8 for the PowerBook 100? Did any of the other 100 series boot into System 6 as a standard release feature?

Limited Maintenance Release. Pacific customers only who got the PB100 before System 7 was ready for them.

6.0.7.1 back-translated to English will run on a 140 or 170 for sure, not sure about the 145 or 145b. As a standard release though, it was not. Enjoy.


SE/30 Cap Replacement http://tinyurl.com/mjf24zs
Classic Mac Networking v3.1 http://applefool.com/se30/
"Linux assumes you know exactly what you are doing." -oboedad55, ubuntuforums.org

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#9 2014-09-21 03:09:29

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,404

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

Dang! My PB100 was a measly 16MHz 68000 and it ran 7.0.1* just fine. I snagged the Sys6 rev for it back in the day and never did try it out. BabyPB was all BUSINESS!

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#10 2015-06-25 03:16:56

fmillion
Member
Registered: 2015-06-25
Posts: 4

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

So did anyone have the apparently common issue of the PB 150 display losing a square in its upper-right section? I used one of these back in middle school, and one day when I opened it up, that entire upper right area was white, as if the pixels just died. (It was a fun job convincing the teacher that I didn't somehow cause this.)

Another unit I saw later on had the same exact space dead, but the area had turned YELLOW (!).

I still have yet to find a 150 in working condition, even with the bad display, but was just curious if anyone had any tech details on the screen failure, mostly because I'm just interested as I saw it more than once.

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#11 2015-11-17 07:15:53

sluffox
Member
Registered: 2015-07-08
Posts: 9

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

Going back to the ADB power-take-off reference I have this weird ADB kind of thing on the back of a SATA card that I kind of made a plug out of hotmelt and some component legs for. I was throwing out the trash tonight and there was a dismembered S-video cable I picked up at goodwill (that's an American Salvo's or Vinnie's). I hadn't had the heart to chop the end off my ADB orbit or my Intuos 1 for this flash in the pan SATA craze but the hotmelt thing is sketchy and I thought maybe S-video would do? I got this cable for my Apple //e which has so far only produced some very wobbly lines on the Sony Watchman the workmen left behind when they gutted my building a few years ago, S-video got me nowhere with that project but I noticed the glint of metal on the cut off ends and realized it was some kind of mini-coax. Looks like the weave is Plus 5v on the red lead out of my ADB PTO socket thingy but I can't get a reading on the white (although I did manage to weld a 10K ohm resistor across the leads). The 12v output is the other way up on my SATA card so I'm guessing the white weave will be ground, yeh?

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#12 2015-11-19 18:54:39

sluffox
Member
Registered: 2015-07-08
Posts: 9

Re: PowerBook 150: meh or Pinnacle of the 100 series?

Yep, that was it, didn't need to measure it at all, just check the resistance while shorting the pin with the shield (what do you call that?) and core and checking my prototype wiring. It worked fine to power up the little SATA I pulled out of a discarded cable TV box but I have my reservations about hooking it up to anything bigger. I was fiddling around with it because I was hoping to hook up a IDE over firewire but it draws it's current from the PCI slot and seems pretty gutless.

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