Getting The Most Out Of A PowerBook 1400

1400.jpgI’ve always been a PC kind of guy…

It’s not that I’m one of those “Apple sux, PC’s rule” people, but I’ve always enjoyed being able to get my hands dirty with my OS and up until the advent of OS X, anything from Apple just didn’t allow the end user a “hands-in” experience. Despite this, I recently purchased a gently used PowerBook 1400c on eBay and I now know much more about the Mac OS than I ever thought I would or could. This isn’t really a “how to” in the classic sense; it’s more of a “how NOT to lose your sanity” than anything else.

First, here are the reasons why I bought a seven year old laptop that has all the speed of an original Pentium:

1. It’s upgradeable (you can put a G3 in it for $200).
2. They’re cheap (mine ended up costing $80).
3. They’re still useful (you can surf, email, and word process… not bad for the price).
4. They come recommended.

Secondly, here are things you should know if you’re considering a PB1400:

1. If it’s a 1400C it has an active matrix screen. The 1400CS has a dual-scan passive matrix screen.
2. The machine came in three speeds: 117Mhz, 133Mhz, & 166Mhz. I have the 117Mhz and it’s painfully slow.
3. If you don’t have an original PB1400 install CD, you can not install OS 7.5.3! (This has been the biggest headache for me and my PB1400… Apple offers the full OS 7.5.3 install for free on their web site, but does not offer the PB1400 Enabler file.)
4. eBay might be the easiest way to get a RAM upgrade, but it is not the cheapest.
5. OS 8.6, the OS many PB1400 enthusiasts consider to be the “sweet spot”, requires 24 Megs of RAM.
6. Unlike all other PowerBooks where you only hold down the C key, to boot from CD you need to hold down the command, option, shift and delete keys.

Third, here are some vital PB1400 links:

1. PowerBook 1400 FAQ #1
http://www.fortunecity.com/skyscraper/mozilla/1210/faq.html
2. PowerBook 1400 FAQ #2
http://www.ivsoftware.com/FAQMac/fom-serve/cache/5.html
3. How to use an inexpensive 3Com PC ethernet PCMCIA card in your PB1400
http://www.floodgap.com/retrotech/mac/enet3c589/
4. LowEndMac.com – The PowerBook 1400
http://www.lowendmac.com/pb2/1400.shtml
5. OS 7.5.3
download for free (sans the PB1400 enabler)
6. Updates for all the Classic OS’s
updates are crucial