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What draws you to 68K Powerbooks?


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Apple makes several kind of powerbooks. The original 68K models. The PowerPC types. Then the Intel models. What particular attracts you to the 68K Powerbooks? Obviously, 68K Macs are highly desirable as they worth more on the eBay. What are the reasons?

The reason for me is simple. I used to own classic Macs and Powerbooks when I was still at schools. I like the simplicity of the classic Mac OS UI design than the OSX. I really think they should just make pre-emptive multitasking available on the classic Mac UI instead of changing everything in OSX. The classic Mac OS also runs great games such as Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle.

The Powerbook 100 is the very first notebook PC with a palm rest and trackball. It was truely ahead of its time. I miss using it in the good old days.


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Chunky yet effective design, those crisp displays, an elegant UI. Even the Portable is impressive - no tools, no worries to pull apart!


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I was given a PB 170 when they were first released, at the same time I started work at a university business school. I'd used various compact Macs up to then, and was just migrating to (I think) a Iici.

The 170 was my go-to system for a lot of the work I was doing, and I look back on it with a great deal of fondness because it was always there when I needed it for a task. I kept it in use until I got a PB1400 when they came out, and gave it to my daughter who still has it, though no longer uses it.

It was such an icon, and really the first to define the entire future of laptop design, with the keyboard pushed back, and a trackball, later trackpad, in front, with space to rest your wrists while working. Brilliant concept.

I still have my 1400, and still use it, and recently added a PB 145B. I'm also now getting a Duo 230 - yet to arrive. For me, the great benefit of these 68k PowerBooks is that they are really effective tools for preparing and authoring documents, writing in general, and in early versions of Mac OS, they have a great, yet elegantly simple interface, readily usable software, and are free of distractions. For sheer productivity, nothing since has really come close.

I do have much more modern systems, including an M1 MBA and iMac, but these old PowerBooks are my favourites.


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I like to take stuff that doesn't work and isn't being used and give it a new purpose in life. I recent bought several 68k powerbooks of various types off eBay to work on this winter. They are fun to restore. I used to focus on Quadra 700s, Mac clone desktops, old powermacs, etc. The separate monitors, keyboards, mice, cabling running everywhere got to be too much. Powerbooks are all in one and much easier to move around and work with. Plus with laptops I can hide them in my closet so people don't think I'm crazy for having stacks of them.

I chose 68k powerbooks specifically for the aesthetic reasons Byrd mentioned. I also noticed this era of laptop is quickly becoming the most in need of people to restore and preserve their history. In other words, they are all dying and falling apart lol. I like the challenges that accompany restoring them as it makes having a finished example all the more rewarding. It's definitely a lot more fun to run vintage software natively on these machines than it is in a simulator on my modern Macs.


Nostalgia for the day I got to stop carrying a big metal Makita tool box with 1GB HDD in it on my commute. I maxed out and heavily used my first notebook, a NIB PowerBook 100 until CPU compatibility forced switch to a friend's soup to nuts Duo 230/68030 system. Always wanted a 250 to use at the pool club with its work in sunlight active matrix panel, but never did get one until I started collecting. After that the PB150 really piqued my interest. Easily the most powerful of the 100 series with one of my Duo cards installed. Never had an active matrix panel until the 2300c, so the screen everyone rags on in this day and age was fine with me, especially compared to single bit PB100 panel.

Made the switch to Duo 2300c as my first PPC system when CPU compatibility reared its ugly head again. Used the heck out of it until I snagged a maxed out 1400c WarDriver. 466MHz G3 infusion worked for me under OS9 on the free WiFi downtown until about 13 years ago when I snagged HP_Mini and installed Ubuntu.

Still cherish my first notebook love, the PowerBook 100. It's a very long term hack project, but I've since got two more to play with as shipped.


Well-known member
Chunky yet effective design, those crisp displays, an elegant UI. Even the Portable is impressive - no tools, no worries to pull apart!
This. And the fact that they represent a significant, and influential step in laptop design... the placement of the keyboard and the trackball.

And they're easy to work on.

I never used them when they were new, probably lusted after them though.


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I've always thought that collecting and working with the 68K Powerbooks are a space-effective way to participate in the hobby, since their compact size takes up less space on the desktop than even the pizza box and SE-sized models. Of course the nostalgia of them is important to me as well.


Active member
The classic Mac OS has really the most elegantly designed interface. Simple and clean. I still consider it the best ever. By comparison, OSX is really awkward. Windows is no where as intuitive. It is amazing that the original Mac OS from almost 30 years ago is so well thought out.


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I was in middle school, but even then I understood that the initial 68K Powerbooks were revolutionary. Especially the 170 with its active matrix display. You've gotta remember that they were released at a time when laptops looked like this:


Apple hit it out of the park. They were expensive, but they were also much better than anything that existed at the time. It wasn't even close.


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I only have one and that's a 170 I think and I have it because it is mint and I like the monochrome LCD.

I have well over 100 laptops but pretty much stayed away from 68k ones because of the hinge designs being crap. Have plenty of later PPC ones.


Well-known member
I am really smitten by the Duo 230. It is quite stunning. Direct lineage to the whole ultra-thin lightweights, the MacBook Air particularly, is very clear in the size, weight, thickness and interface compromises, but it seems to beg to be picked up and held, and carried around.

This one is missing a couple of screws holding it together, but it feels solid as a rock - I guess because of the magnesium frame inside. And it works like a dream. Almost. As expected, the screen ghosts a bit, but is perfectly good to use. But the keyboard.... oh, dear. It isn't bad, just very spongy. All the keys work, but they don't have the smooth feel the reviews from 1992/93 describe. I think it needs some lubricant on all the mechanisms - Lithium grease possibly. However, I was using it for several hours yesterday with no glitches at all.

It's a great laptop. I wanted one back in 92 to run a PIM I would be able to take with me, but couldn't afford it and instead ended up with an original Newton, which... very cool, pretty clever, but almost hopeless.

I have tried carrying my Clamshell, PB1400 and even the 145B to work and back, but they're really too heavy. I really do find that this era of Mac systems suit my off-line needs just about perfectly, so one I can take with me is a great bonus.