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Mighty Jabba

A tale of 3 Tibooks...

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My first PowerBook was a Lombard PowerBook G3, which I replaced not long afterward with a Pismo. That one I used for quite a while, even upgrading it to a G4 back when such things were possible. I never owned a Titanium PowerBook because I liked my Pismo so much, and I didn't really have the need or money for an upgrade. All of this is to say that while I was around while the Titanium PowerBooks were new, I had never owned one or even used one for more than a minute or two. But I recently discovered that a lot of the computers from the late 90s to early 2000s are extremely cheap on the secondhand market, so I figured this was my chance to finally try out some of the things that I had never had before.


Long story short, I ended up buying three of them for around $75. One was separate and was listed as non-working, but it came with some accessories and even the original box, so I thought that even if I couldn't get it working, it would serve as a parts machine. The other two were sold as a lot and I was the only bidder. One thing was that the auction description was terrible, and didn't even make it totally clear that you were getting two machines or what their specs were, and all of the photos were of one machine by itself. Anyway, these were pretty dirty and not in great cosmetic shape, but I took it upon myself to rehabilitate them.


The first "non-working" machine turned out to be the earliest of the three: a 500mHz G4 with 256MB of RAM and a 30GB hard disk (this is the one on the right above). Sure enough, it appeared dead when I got it and plugged it in, but I was able to get it to show some signs of life by unplugging the PRAM battery. But I couldn't get it to boot completely unless it was using an external firewire disk (actually one of the other Tibooks in target disk mode), and sometimes it would still have problems booting. After trying some other hard disks, I decided to make this a parts machine. This is not quite as useful as I had hoped, since the other two machines are newer revisions and have pretty different internals, but some things are still usable. I've already taken out the hard disk and RAM for use with other machines.


The other two machines turned out to be a 1gHz G4 with 1GB of RAM and a 60GB hard disk (in the middle above), and a 867mHz G4 with a 30GB hard disk and 512MB of RAM (on the left). Functionally, they are totally fine, but they were having some issues in that glue holding the titanium panels to the plastic frames had weakened enough that they were starting to feel seriously rickety. So I reglued these as best I could and gave them a thorough cleanup with alcohol. And while they do have quite a few scuffs and scratches that can't be removed, it's impressive how decent they look from a short distance away (maybe a foot or two). And the interiors of the machine, around the palmrest and screen, are both in very good shape, so you don't notice it too much when using them.


I upgraded the 1gHz machine with a 60GB SSD and put its original 60GB hard disk in the 867mHz machine, and also upgraded that machine's RAM to 756MB using the donor machine's RAM. Putting Tiger on these was easy, but I originally had some trouble installing OS 9/Classic because the retail install CD does not appear to work with these Tibooks. So managed to find the original restore CD on Macintosh Garden, and that allowed me to finally put OS 9 on. Since the 1gHz machine is the fastest portable ever made that can run OS 9 natively, it was important for me to be able to get it on there.


Even though these machines are showing their age, I'll have to say that I really like how they feel. When they came out, I was kind of critical of the choice to paint the titanium, and of course that decision has resulted in some chipping, but it really feels nice against the hand -- better than the raw aluminum of later machines. And these machines are still fairly usable on Tiger with things like TenFourFox, so I'm very happy to have them in my collection. (As a side note, they are also great because they can natively read and write the SD cards in my SCSI2SD, which my modern Macs cannot do.)

Edited by Mighty Jabba

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By the way, I was amazed that one of the batteries actually holds a pretty decent charge (it was an original Apple battery and not a replacement). I think it quit after a little more than an hour and a half of actual use, which isn't too bad at all. The main thing I care about with these older machines is that I have enough battery to be able to transport them from one outlet to another (and that the batteries don't swell or leak!)

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