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A gorgeous pair of mid-1990's Apple PowerBooks, saved from the e-waste recycler!

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A stranger reached out to me via a local Facebook group in my town, because he had seen some of my retro computing posts and wanted to know if I might be interested in a couple of old laptops he was about to have e-waste recycled. Naturally, I said yes, and here’s what I ended up with: a pair of gorgeous mid-1990’s Apple PowerBooks! 


One is a PowerBook 150 (a bare-bones budget model) which may be lacking its original internal hard drive (the screws are missing from the underside, and there isn’t even a hint of hard drive sound when it’s powered on) but is otherwise in good shape. 


The second is a PowerBook 165, which booted right up and appears to have some cool applications installed on the original 80 MB hard drive. Unfortunately, the display of the power book 165 appears to be suffering from the typical capacitor failure, because it drifts from being razor sharp and bright, to being broken up and washed out, and then back again.


Pretty cool, and especially since they’re now safe from the recycler! Click through to the album linked above for pics + details. 


Three questions immediately come to mind:

1. Is anyone here offering recapping services for these displays/motherboards?

2. If recapping service isn't really a thing these days, could the display from the 150 be migrated into the body of the 165?

3. For the 150 (and the 165 too, as a preventative measure), what adapters would I need to replace the missing internal hard drive with a CompactFlash or microSD card? I'm guessing the 165 would need a PowerBook-style SCSI2SD (hey @inertialcomputing - are those available?), but I'm not sure what the 150 would need...

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The PB150 needs only a simple adapter by comparison. One of the stronger points of the 150 would be that its HDD interface is IDE. So any inexpensive 2.5" adapter will do for CF, SD a/o SD->EMMc, which is superior to either as I understand it.


Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini
apparently I can no longer type or spell.
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If you're lucky the 150 has either its RAM adaptor or expanded RAM installed already because if it has neither it's basically impossible to go beyond 4MB these days: the 150 used a special L adapter so that it could use Duo RAM modules which saved on production costs but the adapters weren't included with the computer, which saved more costs up-front but drove up the cost and difficulty of an upgrade.


As mentioned, they have native ATA support internally. Because these things are so old I don't recommend doing anything too crazy, both because you won't really be able to effectively use more than about 4GB of storage but also the crude ATA spec that thing uses may not play nice with some of the newer adapters. I'd just use an ATA-to-CF adapter and a 512MB card. The 165 would need a SCSI2SD.


The 150 uses a sort of blue-tinted STN display, usually of Casio manufacture, while the 165 should use a more naturally-colored grayscale STN, typically from Sharp. Their sizes and resolutions are slightly different (150: 9.5"@640x480, 165: 9.8"@640x400) so they're not interchangeable. I'm not sure if the electrical connectors on the respective intermediate boards are compatible enough for a complete display assembly swap but there were several differences internally that would suggest that they probably aren't (the 150 was a weird cost-reduced and repackaged version of the Duo 230 compared to the "proper" PowerBook 165).

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19 hours ago, max1zzz said:

For the 165 you could use a RaSCSI board, I made a modified version of @landoGriffin's hardware design designed to fit in a PB's HDD bay. Otherwise it's a SCSi2SD as others have said (If you can get hold of one that is, the last few times I have looked the 2.5" version has been out of stock


The old V5 2.5" is out of stock, as it's been replaced with the V5.5 2.5". It's a bit confusing as both are still listed in the store, despite the fact the old one's probably never coming back.

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