The black bird, one of the best PowerBook’s in the history

16 may 1994 the laptops from Apple has again caused a lot of interest even on the other side of the “fence”. Appearance, and not only. Code name of the product, the Blackbird, was unoriginal. In the late 80s, the same code name was the Macintosh IIfx, until the appearance in Macs more powerful processor 68040 former most powerful and most expensive Mac om in the world. To ornithology codename is related, but very distant. Meant the nickname of a top-secret spy plane Lockheed SR-71. So that’s the bird…

Prototypes of the new PowerBook’and was deep black in color, that’s probably why they never called. Alas, due to manufacturing difficulties, production machines for these models, all but one were not black. Nevertheless, “black birds” are not black have become one of the major successes of the company in its difficult years.

The path to the black birds were difficult to place 68040 in a portable computer for a long time failed, because of his brutal appetite, and high heat dissipation. Even the lightweight version, 68LC040, came immediately. While Motorola didn’t step forward.

The second difficulty was unprecedented until now, the design of these computers: smoothed body lines, curves did not fit in the housing battery enough capacity, so in the basic configuration of the batteries had two.

These batteries can be changed without turning off the computer: he has survived up to 10 minutes in this mode. This feature I liked all the others.

But the interest in the world caused it. Or not only that.

PowerBook 540c and 540

These two models were presented to the public on 16 may 1994. PowerBook 540c was the world’s first laptop with support for 16-bit color on your own monitor, active matrix. In the PowerBook 540 was used active matrix grayscale.

The 68LC040 processor with a clock frequency of 33 MHz, built-in support for Ethernet, 4 MB of RAM (expandable to 36 MB), the choice of drive, 240 MB, or 320 MB, 16-bit stereo sound, and it’s all available offline. For the first time instead of the trackball in all PowerBook’Ah 500-series used the trackpad. Opinions on this new split, but the lack of moving parts and the durability of this device have left his critics have no chance.

Keyboard besides that was a standard size, it was the F-keys for the first time on a portable Mac that is From F1 to F12.

Apple engineers have made every effort to have their laptop are not inferior to desktop Mac am. The only serious drawback PowerBook 540 and 540c, compared to desktop counterparts, had significantly higher price. For the 540c was required to pay approximately 6000 then $

To 540 and 540с you can connect an external monitor with a diagonal of 20 inches (50.8 cm).

At 540, ih was another important marketing advantage: the chip was placed on a removable daughter Board, it can be replaced by a 68040 or PowerPC 603e. These upgrades from Apple appeared almost immediately after the start of sales 500 series, but the number of sales have surpassed them upgrades from the company’s Newer Technology, with clock frequencies up to 183 MHz.

Newer Technology has developed an upgrade on the G3, though using the PowerPC 750 is used in computers from Apple, PowerPC 740, with a clock frequency of 223 MHz, connector fully compatible with the PowerPC 603e, but further prototypes did not get.

PowerBook 520 and 520c

For reasons unknown to me, a “younger model” 500-series was announced on may 16. They were declared later, without any solemnity. From the “older models” they are distinguished by a lower clock frequency is 25 MHz, the screen is passive matrix and the presence of modifications with the hard drive only 160 MB.

And, as always with PowerBook’AMI, “younger model” sold significantly worse than their more expensive “senior”. Most likely, they were developed as an affordable alternative for those who consider money ā€“ but it seems that this market segment is not interested in these laptops.

PowerBook 540c was fashionable and prestigious, possession, emphasized the status of the owner, and despite the price they had sold half a million. All models of PowerBook 500-series has sold 600 thousand pieces. But these data are incomplete: there was another model, the sales of which no information.

Mysterious PowerBook 550c

PowerBook 550c was manufactured and sold only in Japan. Immediately after the announcement of the PowerBook 540 and 540c, Apple Japan asked me to allow her to develop and sell its own version of this notebook.. Apple Computer didn’t seem to mind.

550c was the only model of the 500 series, produced in black housing is a little larger. The model used the screen with an active matrix and support “thousands of colors”, with a diagonal of 10.4 inches (520 and 540 diagonal was 9.5 inches).

In the Japanese version of the series used a full-fledged 68040, with a clock frequency of 33 MHz and the hard drive in the base configuration was a volume of 750 MB.

This handheld monster, probably the most powerful laptop at the time, sold very good ā€“ but the price of it, with the features of the Japanese market was much higher than the us relatives.

If Apple at that time was adequate and strong-willed leader, he probably would have released super laptop with super performance… If at the same time announced that such cars will be sold for only, say, 10,000 pieces, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Macintosh platform…

The problems and disadvantages of the 500 series

In General, the series was incredibly successful. PowerBook 540c bought even people who had never used a Mac AMI, and judging by their feedback, they were satisfied.

But like all human creations, PowerBook’and was not without drawbacks.

Expansion slot, the Processor Direct Slot, was located in the compartment of one of the batteries. The market was very attractive for users extensions for the 500 series, for example, PCMCIA support. But in order to use this expansion, one of the batteries had to be removed.

And two batteries were installed in these computers is not a good life.

It was the most expandable notebook series in the history of the company, but easy upgrade process is not called.

Chips, cracks and other mechanical damage also poisoned the lives of their owners. And, after prolonged use, I started to have problems with graphics: black bands and the like.

The problem is not immediately apparent, almost simultaneously with its appearance on one of the most known s in the world PowerBook’, PowerBook 5300, which should definitely write what I will do next time.

To be continued

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