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Help Identifying Macintosh Notebook


Well-known member
Does the company mentioned inside the case (FU YU MFG Singapore) say anything to anybody?
The first result in Google is the Fu Yu Manufacturing Limited and they have been doing high precision plastic parts for a few decades now, well, at least acc. to their website.


Well-known member
Yeah, that'll be one of Apple's plastics suppliers/fabricators from back then. As I said, this really does look like an Apple concept/mockup, the plastics are of the same style/quality as their production stuff.


Well-known member
Yeah, that'll be one of Apple's plastics suppliers/fabricators from back then. As I said, this really does look like an Apple concept/mockup, the plastics are of the same style/quality as their production stuff.
Yep, agreed, with an alternate LC case. The internal mounts on that look correct to fit an LC board, PSU and floppy drives in, whilst not actually being put together or shaped like the LC’s case… and a date stamp predating the release of the LC. Perhaps a mock-up of an LC based all in one.


Well-known member
Ok I'll bite, this is an interesting mystery and I have a hypothesis. Requires going through the What, Why, When, and Who.

The What: Prototype Parts
@ArmorAlley Fu Yu Manufacturing is a plastic molding company that worked with Apple (Singapore Business, 1997)

@Performa450 Agree I think the bottom case is an Apple prototype given the identical details like internal ribs & structure to the shipped LC bottomcase. Seems like in Aug 1990 they were considering whether to have retractible feet or not. Makes sense this would be an open design question, as the monitor designed to sit atop the LC is not adjustable, whereas all other CRT monitors of the era were adjustable for optimal ergonomics. I think the spirit of low cost manufacturing that defined the LC won out (see the feature on the LC in Macworld Nov 1990, pg170), and they choose to just build the permanent leg bump into it despite it's somewhat awkward style:
The Macintosh LC is designed for automated construction. The overall construction is very simple and consists of five basic pieces in addition to the box and the lid: the logic board, the power supply, a component containing both the fan and the speaker, a floppy disk and a hard disk. All the components fit in a flat layer, with no stacking. Direct connections are used wherever possible, and alignment holes are built into the logic board to guide robot arms for insertion of power and disk drive cables.

@3lectr1cPPC yes and the keyboard says 'For Engineering Evaluation' which means its not even a production Powerbook keyboard. It could be a Powerbook 100, 140, or 170 keyboard though. This is important!

Note the the top case is clearly a different mold process than the bottom case, using a flat back instead of the structural ribs of the LC bottom case. This suggests a very early in-house prototype, or an entirely different manufacturer of the top vs the bottom (despite their snow white stylistic similarity).

The When: Shortly before/during/after LC Release
Lets look at some relevant points in the timeline:

Nov 86 - Dynamac makes a portable Macintosh
??? 87 - Colby makes a portable Macintosh
Aug 89 - Outbound makes a portable Macintosh laptop for $3000-4000
Sept 89 - Macintosh Portable comes out for $4800-5500, looks like Dynamac and is significantly larger than the Outbound
Late 89 - Apple approaches Sony to work on Powerbook 100
Mar 90 - Apple IDG begins work on Powerbook 140 & 170 (wikipedia)
Aug 90 - LC bottomcase with retractible feet manufactured
Oct 90 - LC is announced
Jan 91 - LC arrives at dealers
Jan 91 - Macworld Expo 91, which includes these facts:
Jan 91 - Apple delays updated version of Mac Portable, originally scheduled to release at Expo (Tidbits: Filling the Portable Gap, 1991)
Jan 91 - Rumors are Apple is making smaller portable with Sony (Tidbits: Filling the Portable Gap, 1991)
Jan 91 - Outbound and Dynamac trying to fill the demand for portable macs with new models (Tidbits: Filling the Portable Gap, 1991), one of which sports a keyboard that looks like a Portable or Powerbook keyboard.
Feb 91 - Macintosh Portable refreshed with backlit display
Feb 91 - Apple IDG completes work on Powerbook 140 & 170 (wikipedia)
Oct 91 - Powerbook 100, 140, 170 announcement

So we have the time between the topcase (Aug 90) and keyboard (pre-Oct 91). However, because the LC shipped to dealers in Jan 91 with the new style bottomcase, and this mystery model still has the August one, it may have been made up of parts from different dates. I think we can assume though that this model was assembled sometime after August 90 and before Mar 91, when Powerbooks (and their keyboards) had reached design completion and were approaching PVT stage.

The Why: A Temporary Gap in the Market
An important question is why would someone go through all the trouble of making a jankier version of a Mac Portable? Consider what Apple is going through around Aug 90 - Jan 91:
  • They've got a poor selling Macintosh Portable they're thinking about refreshing
  • A few manufacturers have been making a small business selling niche portables based on the Mac
  • Early Powerbooks are in the pipeline but won't be ready for a while
  • The market demand for portables is growing as computing is growing at a fast pace (its the 90s!)
  • They're making significant strides on low-cost manufacturing most notably with the upcoming LC
Basically they need something to tide over the portable demand until the Powerbook is ready.

The Who: Either Dynamac or Apple

This gets to the final section, now that facts are assembled.

We know that Apple have a working relationship with Dynamac (Infoworld, 1986):
Dynamac Computer Products Inc. and Apple Computer inked an agreement last week permitting Dynamac to buy discounted Macintosh Plus computers directly from Apple and reconfigure them into a portable package that includes a higher resolution display.
The company is the first maker of portable Macintosh machines to receive official support from Apple, which claims it has the legal right to limit the reconfiguration of its machine by others who intend to resell it.

And Outbound (Tidbits: Filling the Portable Gap, 1991):
Other rumours in the same field focus on Apple’s joint efforts with Sony to develop a significantly smaller and lighter portable Mac, and on Apple’s purchase of technology developed by Outbound Systems and subsequent licensing of that same technology back to Outbound.

In general, Apple is using third parties to suss out early market demand that it can't/won't yet invest in. The history is there - Dynamac came out a year before the similarly shaped Portable, and Outbound came out with a laptop two years before Powerbooks. Third parties are at the vanguard of exploring Mac markets. Remember this is the era of Apple's openness, of the explosion of the Macintosh platform and all the third parties doing all the things, and of personal computing's rapid ascent.

These relationships suggest to me its possible that either Dynamac or Outbound could reasonably have access to early runs of the LC bottomcase and early powerbook keyboards.

The two obvious contenders for what this model is are thus a) a Cheaper Macintosh Portable or b) the Dynamac LC Display.

Cheaper Macintosh Portable
Apple could have looked at the LC case and the lower cost manufacturing approach of the LC and considered turning that into a cheaper version 2 of the Macintosh Portable. The expense of the Macintosh Portable was likely getting in the way of broader adoption, and third party macs were nipping at their heels with cheaper products. By August 1990 the Portable had only been on the market 11 months, and was not selling well. It was large, slow, expensive, and had a shit screen. The question may have been: could they take their work on the faster, cheaper LC and, with a small investment, make a better Macintosh Portable v2? Or refresh the existing Portable with a backlit screen? Cancelling outright wasn't likely an option, there were already sunk costs for the tooling and they needed some kind of portable.

If they went through this exploration, it probably took a few months to do the case manufacturing and to see how the product came together. And that exploration could have caused the following delay:

From Tidbits: Filling the Portable Gap, Jan 14 1991:
Apple recently announced a delay in the hoped-for updated version of its Macintosh Portable computer system, originally scheduled for release at this Macworld Expo. Rumours had suggested that the new computer would include a lighter battery assembly and a backlit liquid crystal display, taking care of two of the most pervasive complaints about the original Portable.
and Tidbits Macworld Expo Briefs, Jan 14 1991:
One product that didn’t make it under the wire is Apple’s revised Macintosh Portable. The improved machine is rumoured to offer a backlit LCD screen, and a lighter battery assembly. The release has been postponed indefinitely; it’s not clear what effect that may have on the upcoming joint Apple-Sony project.

Dynamac LC Display
The other option is that Apple just absolutely did not want to be in the luggable form factor business by Aug 90. It was just not a good form factor for people - they sat on desks more than they were lugged around, and they couldn't fit in a briefcase and thus were not in the important contexts where portable computing was desired. Apple even knew this when they launched the Portable in Sept 89, because they were already talking with Sony to miniaturize the Portable. Shortly after they spun up the Powerbook project and started throwing a lot of money at that. Powerbooks were the future, luggables were the past. The dismal sales of the Portable over the next 11 months only cemented that belief at Apple.

With this mindset, the LC-Portable was never a serious concept, and not worth building a whole new product for. But Apple engineers and designers must have noticed the pizzabox form factor looked like it could have a portable bolted atop it. Maybe they even modeled the topcase design. And the business people knew they had a market gap problem, because by Aug 1990 it was still going to be at least another year before the Powerbooks arrived. What could fill the gap? Enter Dynamac.

Apple could have called them up and floated to them 'hey we have this LC, do you want to try to make a portable out of it?' and supplied them some prototype LCs. At this time, the LC still had the retractible legs. Dynamac decides they can make two types of portables out of this: one that uses the LC motherboard but is in a more compact laptop form factor (the Dynamac IIsf), and another cheaper one that amounts to a LC conversion kit to turn it into a portable by replacing the topcase (LC Display). So they work from August 90 to January 91 on these two models, and announce them at Macworld Expo in Jan 91. From Infoworld, Jan 24 1991:
Dynamac Computer Products Inc. demonstrated two new lines of Macintosh-based portable computers and a laptop display.

Dynamac's LC Display, a $1,299 flat-panel display, attaches to the CPU of a Macintosh LC computer, turning an LC into a portable. The 9½-inch backlit monochrome display gives LC users 640-by-480-pixel resolution with 16 shades of gray.

A portable computer configured using Dynamac's LC display weighs 13¼ pounds including the LC CPU and external keyboard. A battery that yields up to three hours of computer use adds 2½ pounds to the machine's weight. The LC Display is expected to ship in mid-March, said a Dynamac representative.


While this article shows a picture of a Dynamac IIsf (above), it doesn't show the LC Display. It also mentions an external keyboard is required. It's likely when they announced this at Macworld Expo, it was still in pretty early development and was announced to gauge demand. And there were three issues facing this product.

First, the retractible bottom leg of the LC was gone, replaced late in the cycle with a cheaper fixed leg by Apple. That fixed leg stuck out like a sore thumb for anything trying to resemble a portable.

Second, this still requires lugging along a big keyboard, and Dynamac probably got some feedback at the expo about how impractical that was. The IIsf (seen pictured in this article) appears to have the same white Powerbook keyboard, probably given to them by Apple from recently completed engineering samples of the new Powerbook keyboards. So after receiving this feedback, they grab one of those keyboards and hack a hole in the topcase to see how that might be. The keyboard in this model isn't US English, which maybe means it was an 'extra' during Apple engineering prototyping, given to Dynamac once Apple didn't need it anymore. Note that they may never have gotten to the stage of even wiring it up, as we don't see that in the pictures. This suggests it was exploratory form factor prototype, rather than a product going to market.

Third, they wanted to include a 640x480 LCD to maximize use of the LC's additional VRAM, but those may not have been widely/cheaply available. They tested the design with a Macintosh Portable's 640x400 LCD instead. Maybe Apple told them after they settled the design in Feb 91 that the Powerbooks were settling on 640x400 resolution.

By this point, the product is looking like a frankenstein, Apple's Powerbook is design complete and shaping up nicely, and Dynamac is making the assessment that this LC Display product is probably doomed. Note there is no evidence that the Dynamic LC Display was ever launched: it probably died shortly after the Macworld Expo due to feedback and the unworkability of the concept.

Finally, the providence of the model is from a magazine. Seems likely this was one of the many Mac trade publications like Tidbids, Macworld, Infoworld, etc. Maybe it was sent to the magazine to get reviewer feedback, which came back 'this thing is unworkable, why are you launching it' and the response was 'you're right, we've decided to cancel it. Don't worry about shipping it back you can just have it'.


Conclusion: I think its a post-Macworld Expo prototype of the Dynamac LC Portable made shortly before it was cancelled, probably in Feb-Mar 91.
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Well-known member
Great investigative work! I could definitely buy this explanation. A couple additional notes:

- the keyboard is from a 140/170 for sure. The 100’s keyboard didn’t have the trackball connector on it, and the ribbon cables were on the other side.

- If it was apple, it couldn’t have been a backlit model prototype, as that screen is lacking one. Maybe it was a stop gap just thrown in there, but who really knows.


Well-known member
This is very fascinating. I do agree with everything here. Clearly a Macintosh Portable display and 140/170 keyboard. The date code is very interesting because this was just after the release of the original M5120 Portable but seemingly before the M5126 was released. Seems like something that likely never was supposed to work, perhaps Frog Design situation? I believe there was something like this floating around, albeit, an unreleased Server on CL awhile back. I'm wondering if this was perhaps just a mockup unit for pictures and demo purposes?


Well-known member
One more point on this - the “Elsie” LC prototype with a pretty much final case predates this one (I’ve seen a couple online and there is one for ten grand on eBay at the moment), so I don’t think the case with the adjustable legs was the planned LC case, more that this was a design concept for an alternate case - especially as the cable routing /integration doesn’t appear to have been done for this model.


New member
Thank you very much everyone for your assistance so far! That’s a lot of information for us to research so thank you again. If we find anything else out we’ll update the thread.


Well-known member
After going down the rabbit hole, I think the only two options are: this was made by Apple to test the viability of a new Mac Portable style based on the LC, or this was the DynaMac LC Display, build in collaboration with Apple. I still lean toward the latter, for the reasons below.

Elsies in the Wild
@Performa450 that's an interesting potential confound! Digging in, the major difference between Elsie's and PVT LCs are board layout and ROM dates (PVT's have September ROMs, see @kupouzar's thread on 68kmla). However in researching there's also at least one case difference, possibly two.

Here's the research; I'd love to hear if others have seen any other photos of Elsie's out there. The only ones with pictures that I could find are the following:

Elsie A (ebay $10k one) has ROMs dated 6/19/90, a power supply dated 9035M (I assume that's 35th week of 1990, aka August ~27), and a final LC case with fixed legs

Elsie B (reddit user fingerzdxb who's got an amazing collection) has undated ROMs (Rex VISA RAM Test GM+D LL/ML/MH/HH), a power supply dated 1990-03, and a manual eject floppy cutout and fixed legs.
Elsie C (lowendmac) has ROMs dated 6/1/90 and a DynaMac LC Display attached with unknown legs (no pics) -- more on this in a second!

Now @CosmicJake 's LC+Display case lacks an Elsie board but I think we should see where it fits in the timeline and note the changes it has:
  • Half height sidewalls & the front going up to the top of the floppies with apple logo (!)
  • Screw holes
  • Removed support pillars around center floppies
  • Altered center fan+speaker mounting area
  • Grab handle for retractable legs

As it stands, operating from the principle of latest visible date, the timeline is:
  1. Elise B (1990-03), with the cutout floppy & fixed legs case
  2. Elise C (1990-06-01), with DynaMac LC Display and unknown legs case
  3. CosmicJake's (1990-08), with Display retractable legs half height case
  4. Elise A (1990-08-27), with final LC case
Based solely on dates, this shows a progression of case design ideas before the final one appears at a minimum of the end of August.

The fundamental question is: does Lowendmac's Elise C also have the same LC+Display case as CosmicJake? If so, we know what this piece is. If not, this piece could also be a LC-based Macintosh Portable prototype.

Collaborating with DynaMac
As far as the Elsie + DynaMac LC mentioned by lowendmac, this new evidence is a big point in favor of the hypothesis that Apple worked with DynaMac on the LC Display, because it shows evidence of working Elsie parts in it, not just a prototype keyboard and reused Portable screen. Combined with the similar workmanship yet important differences in CosmicJake's case - which includes an Apple logo (and legally what that means) - the immediate implication of this is it makes it almost 100% chance that Apple was the one that built CosmicJake's retractable legs case. If we set aside the LC Portable hypothesis for a second, this poses two questions:
  1. When did this collaboration take place?
  2. Just how official was it?
With a ROM dated 6/1/90 in DynaMac/Elise C, this suggests the collaboration may have started with DynaMac on earlier. There's always lead times with these kinds of collabs.

I believe CosmicJake's case is sufficiently different (half height walls and screw-in design) to suggest its unlikely to have been a serious alternative case design for the LC, tho it may have been tested early on. But to entertain the options, they're basically:
  1. Apple tried several case styles (see the 3 different ones above), and then decided fixed around late Aug.
  2. Apple decided on fixed for the LC before Aug, but in Aug did a spin with retractable ones, possibly for Dynamac.
  3. Apple made this for a LC-based Macintosh Portable
  4. DynaMac created a near clone of the LC case to add retractable legs.
We can safely say #4 is out due to evidence of collaboration + quality of case + Apple logo on it. Given the more radical differences in CosmicJake's bottomcase, its less likely to be #1, since we see a relatively final Elsie case in March 90.

I think reading The Twisted Tale of the Mac LC (MacWorld Dec 1990) helps us answer this question. It describes the multi-year (1988+, see also this 1989 prototype) LC project as extremely dysfunctional, to the point that the engineers had to go behind superior's backs to get the LC made, presenting finished work via fait accompli. I believe this was broadly the culture at Apple at the time, and since we have no knowledge of either project, I think this means this project was probably done in a similar 'we'll make it and then justify it to management' approach. For #2, it would certainly follow that a collaboration to the point of building an alternative case for DynaMac would fly under the radar of superiors.

Final Thought: The Portable Prototype that became LC Display
One final hypothesis is that this mystery case may have been an attempt within Apple to build a LC-based Portable, which was done in the months leading up to Aug 1990 when the case was manufactured, in parallel with the LC development. It may have been deemed quickly unworkable (even prior to Aug 1990) and not fitting the Powerbook strategy, and took a few weeks or months to have the left hand know what the right hand was doing, and when this news came in it was farmed out to DynaMac to fill the temporary gap in the market. The timelines may be a bit of a stretch here tho, it'd require the handoff of old parts (6/1 ROM Elsie board) despite newer parts existing (6/19 ROM Elsie board).

Next Steps
Info that would help us nail this down further include:
  • Ask Ted Hodges for photos to see whether the case is the same as CosmicJake's, and ask whether the Dynamac LC Display itself worked or not
  • Find other Elsie prototypes to fill in gaps in dates and see if different case styles or details exist
  • Ask someone who worked at Apple or DynaMac at the time

As far as what I believe, it is that we know the DynaMac LC Display was developed, and we have no evidence that Apple every built an LC-based Mac Portable, and therefore:
  1. This is a DynaMac LC Display
  2. Apple collaborated with DynaMac including making the bottom half of the case, and possibly the whole thing
  3. The genesis was probably Apple engineers who saw the LC pizzabox case styles and thought 'slap a monitor on it!', possibly during the time LC case styles were being designed (a process that went through many iterations from 88-90)
  4. Apple engineers or product managers possibly even suggested the project to DynaMac once they ruled it infeasible for Apple to do
  5. One justification was probably that it fit the market need for a better portable prior to the Powerbook's intro in late 91
The main bit of evidence that would shift me to thinking it was a new Portable prototype would be any evidence that Apple was a) considering changing the portable for a second revision, and b) the timelines lined up.
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