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Author Topic: casseil review of the powerbook 100 + 170  (Read 1563 times)

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Offline chrisNova777

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casseil review of the powerbook 100 + 170
« on: December 29, 2015, 02:32:43 AM »

   In my opinion, Apple have only ever designed three Macintoshes worthy of the name, in that they embody the true spirit of The Computer For the Rest of Us. First came the Macintosh Plus, the fishtank with built-in SCSI and networking, the chunky mouse, and the "whole megabyte of memory", more than enough to run System 5.0 on a RAM disk and still have memory left for Performer 2.31.

        Then there was the SE/30, the last and greatest of the fishtanks, with a fast (16MHz) 68030 processor and colour support for multiple screens.

        The last true Macintosh was the PowerBook 100, with a 68000 CMOS processor running at 16MHz (twice the speed of the Mac Plus) and a maximum of 8MB of RAM. The '100 rose to prominence late in 1991 as the only PowerBook capable of doing MIDI via its single serial port. Even today, a PowerBook 100 with a Sigma 7 serial adaptor is the only PowerBook which can drive two ports for input and output at once. It has a 9" screen (the same pixel count as the PowerBook 170's 10", but with smaller pixels), and the (external) floppy drive is optional, since the machine can SCSI-dock to other computers.

        The PowerBook 100 is small, light, cute, and it works. It's fast enough to run Vision, Performer and even MAX respectably. In fact, I've had mine locked to SMPTE-generated MIDI Time Code and putting out beat clock all via MIDI Managerwithout problems. It doesn't support sophisticated audio or do multimedia, two more points in its favour. And it dismantles easily.

        There are some minor drawbacks. The trackball isn't mounted on synthetic rubies like in the PowerBook 170, so it's a bit rough in travel. (If this proves to be a problem, I find the large desktop version of the ALPS GlidePoint touch pad to be very useable on a PB100.) The power connector is soldered to the motherboard, and can work loose. And there's a motherboard fuse which can blow and render the machine inoperative except on mains power: disconnect it and even the PRAM dies. But otherwise it's a sweet little machine with no pretentions. I only wish there was more software in similar vein.