Released alongside the Powerbook 140 and Powerbook 170 and costing some $2500, the Apple Macintosh PowerBook 100, codesigned by Apple and Sony, was in effect a redesigned version of the Backlit Portable. The computer, with it’s 9.0″ passive-matrix monochrome display was encased in a compact plastic enclosure. The entire Powerbook (not counting the external drive) weighed exactly one third that of it’s predecessor.
Powered by a Motorola 68000 CPU, running at 16mHz, the laptop incorporated a 256k Boot ROM containing the initial instruction set necessary to power on and access the Operating system.
The Powerbook 100 shipped with either 2MB or 4 MB of RAM. A single 70-pin 100 ns PSRAM card could be installed inside the laptop, increasing the memory to 8MB but on the 4MB model, it required removal of the already installed 2MB module. A total of 2MB ram was also soldered direct to the motherboard. The lack of true 32 bit support preventing the laptop addressing more than 8MB ram.
The Powerbook 100 offered a unique feature in that the RAM retained it’s information, even when the laptop was switched off. Thanks to this feature, a “slimmed down” copy of the operating system could be loaded directly into RAM for Booting off. The Hard Disk could then be placed in “Sleep” mode, improving battery life considerably. However, when the main battey was eventually drained, all information stored in memory was lost. The Hard Disk had to be periodically accessed to save any open documents, to prevent loss.
The Powerbook shipped with either a 20 MB or 40 MB hard drive. A SCSI hard drive interface limited the upgrade path in that sourcing a larger capacity drive proved difficult. A floppy drive was offered as an optional extra, available with Order No: M0567LL/A.
Video & Graphics:
The Powerbook 100 incorporated a 9.0″ monochrome passive-matrix (1-bit) Supertwist LCD. No VRAM was incorporated in the laptop and there was no option to upgrade the video. Similarly, there was no external monitor port.
Supported OS & Software:
The Powerbook 100 was released with System 6.0.8L installed. It was powerful enough to run Microsoft word 5.1, a piece of software released at the same time as Apple stopped production of the Powerbook 100. It also supported most current operating systems for some six years, culminating in System 7.5.5.
Ports & Design:
The design incorporated the battery to the front of the Powerbook. To the rear was a 30 pin SCSI HDI port, a floppy drive 20 pin HDI port, ADB port, sound out and printer port. A backup battery for the RAM allowed users to change main battery and a switch to the rear of the laptop could be flipped to prevent battery drain when the laptop was not being used for extended periods. Notably, the Powerbook 100 could be put into SCSI disk mode, allowing users to plug it into a desktop Macintosh and use the laptop like an external hard drive.
Time Magazine ran a feature on the Powerbook 100, quoting it as being one of 100 all time Gadgets. Hardware aside, the aesthetics of the design included the moving of the keyboard closer to the screen so that users had a place to rest their palms. The integral trackball was also hailed a first for the computing world, setting the scene with Apple as a leading innovator for the next 3 decades.
Two variantions of the Powerbook 100 were released. Their differences, whilst at the time significant, were of little consequence:
- M0567LL/A refers to the entry-level configuration with 2 MB of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive.
- M1045LL/A ships with 2MB RAM, a 20MB Hard Drive and an external 1.44 MB floppy drive.
||October 21, 1991
||August 3, 1992
||Note: The FPU was not available until the Motorola 68030.
|System Bus Speed:
||Cache Bus Speed:
||Min. RAM Speed:
||either 2 MB or 4 MB
|Standard Hard Drive:
||20 MB, 40 MB
||Int. HD Interface:
||1.44 MB (External)
|Apple Order No:
|Apple Model No:
|Original Mac OS:
||Supported Mac OS: