Macintosh Portable

Apple's first portable Mac

The Macintosh Portable was Apple's first attempt at a true portable computer. There are two versions, the original, and the later, backlit model. (I have both.)

The Portable featured a clamshell design with the same easy-access style of case that other Mac's of that time had. Pressing two places on the rear of the computer allowed the rear half of the case top to come off, revealing (from left to right) the battery compartment, expansion slots, and 40MB hard drive (on top of the floppy drive.) Unfortunately, the easy access ends there. (I haven't tried opening it further.)

To use the computer, you must push in on the handle, and lift the screen. This reveals the screen, keyboard, and built-in trackball. Pressing any key turns the machine on, and in a bit you have a standard 68000-based Macintosh. If...

There is something decidedly odd about the Macintosh Portable -- If you do not have a working, charged battery installed, it simply will not boot. Doesn't matter if you have plenty of power coming in from the wall-wart, if that battery isn't there, the Portable isn't happy. It seems the computer always runs off the battery, and the power supply is only used to recharge the battery.

Now, there are ways around this problem. First, replacement batteries are available, though pricey. Second, the battery is supposedly a simple 6v lead-acid battery, and any such battery (that physically fits) will do the trick. Third (and I've tried this) applying 6v directly to the battery terminals will power the computer.

Lastly, I saw a note from someone (I've since lost the reference) that if you put enough juice in through the power connector, the machine will boot. However, I have not tried this, and I do not recommend you try it! However, if you know what you're doing, and you try it anyway, do let me know what happens. Just don't expect me to replace your Mac Portable!

Still, all things considered, these are nice machines, and quite fun to play with.

All text and images are copyright © 1998-2002 Roger Sinasohn
Unauthorized use or duplication is strictly prohibited.
Macintosh Portable
Closed for travel

Mac Portable Expansion Area
Detail of expansion area, showing (L to R) Battery, expansion slots, and hard drive

Macintosh Portable
Open and ready for use

Macintosh Portable
Another view

Macintosh Portable
Detail of the Mac logos on the Portable case

Macintosh Portable
The official Mac Portable case

Mfr: Apple
Location: California, USA
Processor: Motorola 68000
Speed: 16mhz
Op. Sys: MacOS
Internal: 16
Data: 16
Min: 1MB
Max: 8MB
ROM: 256K
Input: Built-in keyboard and trackball
Display: LCD, later with backlighting
Floppy Disk: 3.5" 1.44MB Apple SuperDrive
Hard Disk: Conner CP-3045 40MB SCSI
Serial: 2 Apple RS-422 serial ports (Modem and Printer)
Keyboard: 1 ADB port
Other: 1 SCSI port (DB-25), 8bit Stereo Sound
Expansion: Internal slots: Modem, RAM, ROM, and PDS
Introduced: Sept 1989 (Backlit: Feb 1991)

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