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A > APPLE  > MACINTOSH Portable


Apple
MACINTOSH Portable

ScottH reports :

I still have my Mac Portable - it still works and was in daily use until only a few years ago.

The Mac Portable was supplied in a large, black, padded "suitcase" for lugging it around. The original Portable with the non-backlit display used static RAM. This rendered memory upgrades extortionately expensive. The later backlit models used pseudo static RAM, as did the early PowerBook series machines. The use of static / pseudo static RAM meant that the computer could be put into a "sleep" mode with all applications running. Waking it from sleep took only a fraction of a second.

Also, RAM could be set aside as a "RAM Disk" that could even be booted from, thus greatly extending battery life. The RAM disk would appear on the desktop as a floppy disk with an icon of a "chip" in it. Battery life for the original Portable was around 6-12 hours. In the later backlit models, this was reduced to 3-6 hours due to the display backlight and the cheaper pseudo-static RAM.

The later PowerBook 100 computer was basically a Mac Portable in notebook format, assembled (I think) by Sony.

From memory, the Portable continued the tradition of earlier Macs in having the signatures of the design team moulded in to the plastic inside the case.

There were some strange quirks to the SCSI port on the Mac Portable - it didn't supply "termination power" to the bus, and did not have proper internal termination. If you wanted to add more than one external device, two SCSI terminators were required.

The built in trackball and keyboard could have their positions swapped for the benefit of left handed users. A small 9v battery provided backup power for times when the main battery was being swapped out for a spare.

The power adaptor for the Mac Portable was functionally identical to the power supply for the early PowerBook computers. The computer relied on the battery being present to supply enough power to start up the 3.5" 1/3 height hard drive. If the main battery was not present, or was exhausted, the power adaptor alone could not boot the computer.

Apple made a special "low power" version of the ADB mouse for the Portable. This appeared identical to the normal ADB mouse, but had a small "low power" icon on the bottom. In time, the "normal" mouse was dropped from the range and they all became "low power".
The pictures on your site all show a Mac Portable with the standard trackball removed and the optional numeric keypad fitted.

Lysa Schwartz's memories (one of the rare female contribution!):

I had one of these "barely portable" Portables. I LOVED it! It caused a lot of havoc at airports back in 1989; I had to open it up, take out the battery, put it back in, start it up (almost missed numerous flights!) and "make it do something", as requsted from airport personnel. The absolute best part was the 10-hour battery, I'd love to see the industry reproduce it, albeit on a much smaller scale. I'm a Mac addict of the first water; got started with the Apple II+ at age 12.


John Beeler adds:

Apple Portable could not fit on airplane tray tables and was uncomfortable to place on lap.


More information from TheNeil:
The Mac Portable's floppy drive is actually a full sized 3.5" drive that's interchangeable with those used on the desktop Macs of the time - so much for 'slimline design'.

Elsewhere the hard drive was a full blown 3.5" SCSI drive BUT it had a totally bespoke cable connection. The drive can be replaced with the more common 50-pin type but you needed an expensive adaptor to make it work. As an added bonus, the bespoke nature of the drive meant that it couldn't be formatted with later versions of Mac OS - try it and the hard drive was ruined for good.

The 640x400 pixel display was originally meant to be a 640x480 display but no manufacturer was making screens of that size at the time so Apple went with the smaller option. In addition to this Apple had to be a little less 'perfect' than normal - any screen with 6 (or fewer) dead pixels was deemed 'OK' (so it was perfectly possible to pay $6500 for a machine and find 6 dead pixels on it).

It may not be the most portable machine ever made but it's as rugged as they come and my own machine was rescued from certain doom - just needed some TLC =:)





 
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