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April 24, 2004

Mac Retro

I got an email from a friend who works in educational computing; his school is skipping some Powerbooks (1400cs) and would we like a couple? These are contemporaneous with our first PC laptop, which was pretty serviceable until it was stolen. In a sort of old-fashioned way. They will run OS 7 or 8, and theoretically 9. But they should be perfectly capable of word processing, web browsing, and playing elderly Mac children's games -- and would allow us to give each of the children a computer that was entirely their own and wasn't shared in any way.

But hey, an entirely new operating system. Tips welcome.

Posted by Alison at April 24, 2004 11:40 AM

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Nice machine, nice screen and keyboard. Should be able to get some more ram, and maybe upgrade the hard drive. I seem to recall even a G3 upgrade, but really it's quite a capable box. Have a look for the low end mac site, or similar.

Posted by: Damien Warman at April 24, 2004 01:38 PM

The "cs" means "dual scan passive matrix." In today's world, where all panels are active, this will stand out.

Note that the 117mhz models have a real problem -- they have no L2 cache, and running a RISC processor without an L2 cache is a mistake -- the performance hit is dramatic. The 133 and 166 models have 128KB of L2 cache, they're fine.

Sonnet makes G3 upgrade cards for this model. They have a 333MHz 512KB cache, and a 466MHz/1MB cache version. Both are also the lower-power 603e chips, so they're faster and the battery runs longer.

Note that upgrading the hard drives is *not* a good idea -- they have very picky IDE controllers, and anything running faster than Mode 5 DMA, or larger than 8GB, is likely to cause problems.

They also don't have Ethernet on board, but they've got 2 PCMCIA slots. IIRC, these are the last of the "old world" powerbooks -- ADB, SCSI and Mac Video, instead of USB/Firewire/VGA video.

The Lucent/Agere/Proxim Orinoco 802.11b (The old ones) work just fine on these.

Posted by: Erik V. Olson at April 25, 2004 03:15 AM

It's most unlikely that we'll upgrade them to G3. They're definitely intended as play boxen for the kids, so I'm planning to see what they come with and take it from there.

Posted by: Alison Scott at April 25, 2004 02:47 PM

Oh, yeah. System 8 is a much better answer than System 7. I think they run System 9 just fine, but the sweet spot seemed to be System 8.6

Posted by: Erik V. Olson at April 25, 2004 05:17 PM

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