Just found a PowerBook 2400c/180! Now what?

Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
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Found at a thrift store for $5! Not what I expected to find on a thrift store shelf!

I don't know late '90s Macs too well, but I guess I'm going to learn. There wasn't a power supply (I looked all around the shelves) but it seems I can get one relatively cheaply off Amazon.

Looks like this thing has ports for ADB, combo serial/modem, floppy, SCSI, VGA, two PCMCIA, audio, and infrared. So I guess I have some options for loading software and getting it online... just need to work out the particulars.

And it looks like I can upgrade the CPU to a G3 if I want - assuming I can find a card!

Anyway, this is the first Mac of its era that I've ever owned. Excited! Any tips?

 

PowerMac G4 MDD

macrumors 68000
Found at a thrift store for $5! Not what I expected to find on a thrift store shelf!

I don't know late '90s Macs too well, but I guess I'm going to learn. There wasn't a power supply (I looked all around the shelves) but it seems I can get one relatively cheaply off Amazon.

Looks like this thing has ports for ADB, combo serial/modem, floppy, SCSI, VGA, two PCMCIA, audio, and infrared. So I guess I have some options for loading software and getting it online... just need to work out the particulars.
Wow, nice find! I don't have an seriously old Apple laptops, as I do desktops, but that thing will not do well on the web, obviously. (assuming it has an ethernet card, but you can probably get one for it). I am not one to put down old computers as being useless, but there isn't much you can do on this besides playing old games. You could type on it and actually connect to your network printer, but that's just for novelty. For now, I'd clean it up and keep it as a collector's item to play around with once you get a charger. That machine probably isn't something super rare, but those Apple laptops are harder to find than usual. If at all you ever want to get rid of it, sell it to a collector, don't toss it! :)
 

weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
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Ooh. A US keyboard with a proper sized return key. My UK Pismos have the opposite. Apple clearly used to think different.

Seriously, that looks like a keyboard that would be pleasant to type on unlike todays flat, low-travel efforts. Worth getting just for word processing.
 

Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
1
The keyboard does feel nice - I can't wait to actually get the thing powered up and try it out! Just waiting for the power adapter to get here...

And no second reset button that I can find.

So here are the ports I'll be working with (not my pic):



I'd never even seen an HDI-30 SCSI port but apparently it was exclusive to the Macs of the time. Since there's no built-in CD-ROM drive I'm thinking one of the old Apple SCSI exernal drives will be my only option for installing software.

And I'll have to find a PCMCIA card for networking, of course. Hmm... what else...
 

Hrududu

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Jul 25, 2008
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Those are really slick Macs. They tend to sell for a lot too, so hold on to that bad boy! Friend of mine has one, and its a really slick little notebook, makes the 3400 look like its a foot think! Monoprice still sells that SCSI HDI30 adapter new for a couple bucks if you need one.
 

weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
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I'd never even seen an HDI-30 SCSI port but apparently it was exclusive to the Macs of the time. Since there's no built-in CD-ROM drive I'm thinking one of the old Apple SCSI exernal drives will be my only option for installing software.
I also had the HDI-30 port on my Wallstreet. No USB or FW so I used a portable SCSI HP cd burner to burn data to transfer data from it. I still have the drive but ditched my Apple SCSI adapters when my WS got stolen.

SCSI is a very expensive route to go down. You might want to consider making use of the PCMCIA ports to attach Zip, LS120 and HDDs to boot from. Those tend to be cheaper.

Coincidentally, I dug these out of storage today to test with my Pismo. If you are lucky, you might hunt down something like the BulletDrive. Very handy with older Apple laptops.
 

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Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
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Yeah, I'm not liking the prices I'm seeing on eBay for Apple SCSI drives. I did find the HDI-30 adapter on Monoprice, but it definitely wasn't designed for a laptop sitting on a table!

 

Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
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Haha, I'm an idiot - I was reading the connector upside-down.

Next question:

If this thing does work, I intend to get it on my local network - preferably wired, not wireless. Are there any particular PCMCIA cards that are known/likely to be compatible? I was using PCs in the '90s, but I knew that Mac compatibility, at the time, could definitely not be taken for granted.
 

Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
1
Update: I received the power supply in the mail today. The plug was the wrong size, but it was an official Apple product, labeled as for the 2400c - I guess Apple changed the port size somewhere along the line. I managed to get it around the port anyway and test the computer. It works!

Running MacOS 8.1, and apparently upgraded to 80 MB of RAM.



I haven't used classic MacOS in forever. Oh man. Trying to remember where everything is.



This was the first document I found:



IE 5.0 for Mac - boy, remember this?



One thing that strikes me is that the clock on the menu bar is different. Some third-party product? Not sure. Heck I can't even remember how to tell what all is installed.

Next step is to reacquaint myself with OS 8.1 and then figure out what the heck PCMCIA card I want to use for getting this thing online!
 

weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
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The cards that OS9 supports are known. Lowendmac has an article on them somewhere. I vaguely remember something about trying to look for a Lucent chip or something. However, with WEP and a paltry 80MB of RAM good luck browsing anything these days.

I do like the extravagant moustache of a trackpad button your 2400 has.
 

goMac

macrumors 604
Apr 15, 2004
7,145
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The keyboard does feel nice - I can't wait to actually get the thing powered up and try it out! Just waiting for the power adapter to get here...

And no second reset button that I can find.

So here are the ports I'll be working with (not my pic):

Image

I'd never even seen an HDI-30 SCSI port but apparently it was exclusive to the Macs of the time. Since there's no built-in CD-ROM drive I'm thinking one of the old Apple SCSI exernal drives will be my only option for installing software.

And I'll have to find a PCMCIA card for networking, of course. Hmm... what else...
What card is that in there on the right? Is that a Wifi card?

Was someone... actually using this thing with the modern internet?
 

PowerMac G4 MDD

macrumors 68000
Update: I received the power supply in the mail today. The plug was the wrong size, but it was an official Apple product, labeled as for the 2400c - I guess Apple changed the port size somewhere along the line. I managed to get it around the port anyway and test the computer. It works!

Running MacOS 8.1, and apparently upgraded to 80 MB of RAM.

Image

I haven't used classic MacOS in forever. Oh man. Trying to remember where everything is.

Image

This was the first document I found:

Image

IE 5.0 for Mac - boy, remember this?

Image

One thing that strikes me is that the clock on the menu bar is different. Some third-party product? Not sure. Heck I can't even remember how to tell what all is installed.

Next step is to reacquaint myself with OS 8.1 and then figure out what the heck PCMCIA card I want to use for getting this thing online!
Hmm, I wonder if there is old search history on it from back in the day. xD It would be interesting to see what sites people used to go on.
 

Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
1
The cards that OS9 supports are known. Lowendmac has an article on them somewhere. I vaguely remember something about trying to look for a Lucent chip or something. However, with WEP and a paltry 80MB of RAM good luck browsing anything these days.
I was actually more interested in a card for wired Ethernet. I'll check out Lowendmac.

What card is that in there on the right? Is that a Wifi card?

Was someone... actually using this thing with the modern internet?
Like I said, the pic of the ports isn't mine - I had to use someone else's because I was at work and couldn't snap a photo of my own. The guy whose page that is was indeed using a Lucent wireless card on at least a semi-modern Internet (his page looks a bit old).

Hmm, I wonder if there is old search history on it from back in the day. xD It would be interesting to see what sites people used to go on.
IE only contained search history from a few months in 2002 and, oddly, one month in 2004. But the AOL suite seems to have been what the previous owners primarily used and I haven't dug into that one yet.

This is awesome and crazy!

Is that actually the old owner's document that you opened?
It was the first document I ran across - I suspect it's their kid's. :)

I've also found a Eudora archive of e-mail dating from 1998 to 2002. :eek: More to come...
 

Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
1
After briefly scanning through the e-mails, it seems that the previous owner was a woman in the business of designing and building equestrian-related structures. The messages look about 75% business-related, 25% personal. There are folders for both her and her boyfriend, but he doesn't appear to have used the computer nearly as much. There's more than enough information in here to track her down, but I suppose if she were interested in this old correspondence, the computer wouldn't have wound up at a thrift store.

Or maybe she doesn't even know what happened to it. I dunno. Think I should try to reach her?

On another note, I've found that the LCD screen flickers rather frequently when the machine is (1) running off the power supply and (2) not taking user input. If I go to the battery (which, astoundingly, still holds a decent charge), or if I stop typing / using the touchpad, the flickering stops. Very strange.

Some of the installed software that I've found so far:

Eudora
Adobe Photoshop 5
ClarisWorks
AOL
Internet Explorer 5
Some NY Times crossword game
MS Word
MS Excel
 

weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
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On another note, I've found that the LCD screen flickers rather frequently when the machine is (1) running off the power supply and (2) not taking user input. If I go to the battery (which, astoundingly, still holds a decent charge), or if I stop typing / using the touchpad, the flickering stops. Very strange.
You did mention that the power adapter was a poor fit. Perhaps there were revisions at the time with different logic boards and power requirements.
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,913
1,607
After briefly scanning through the e-mails, it seems that the previous owner was a woman in the business of designing and building equestrian-related structures. The messages look about 75% business-related, 25% personal. There are folders for both her and her boyfriend, but he doesn't appear to have used the computer nearly as much. There's more than enough information in here to track her down, but I suppose if she were interested in this old correspondence, the computer wouldn't have wound up at a thrift store.

Or maybe she doesn't even know what happened to it. I dunno. Think I should try to reach her?

On another note, I've found that the LCD screen flickers rather frequently when the machine is (1) running off the power supply and (2) not taking user input. If I go to the battery (which, astoundingly, still holds a decent charge), or if I stop typing / using the touchpad, the flickering stops. Very strange.

Some of the installed software that I've found so far:

Eudora
Adobe Photoshop 5
ClarisWorks
AOL
Internet Explorer 5
Some NY Times crossword game
MS Word
MS Excel
I wouldn't try to contact her. That would be creepy. She probably doesn't even know that stuff is on there. Plus it would make you her first suspect if her identity was ever stolen.

As an aside, it always astounds me how much personal stuff people leave on computers when they sell them. Both my PowerBook and my MBP were bought used and contained a lot of the previous owners' data.
 

Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
1
My first attempt to get this 2400c on the network has failed.



"Ethernet" does not appear as an option in the TCP/IP control panel - only AppleTalk, PPP, infrared, and other useless choices. Oddly, the system seemed to recognize this card as a "Megahertz 589E" but offered nothing beyond that.

I have no floppy drive (the 2400c's floppy port was apparently unique, hoo boy), and no CD-ROM drive, so unless I decide to shell out for those, or for some equally hard-to-find disk solution, Ethernet remains my only avenue for introducing additional software to this system. (Not wireless - I'm not even trying for that.)

The Extensions Manager lists Dayna CommuniCard drivers... from what I've been able to find in old magazines, this was one of the more popular options for Macs at the time.

Onward...
 

weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
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There is another cheap option. I have one of these on order and will try with my Pismo under OS9. If it doesn't require a driver to mount then there is a possibility that the adapter is presenting a standard ATA interface to the system and it should work under OS8. If you have access to another laptop with a PC card slot to load it with, then it would be a simpler way of getting software to the installed OS.

I shall try booting from it for good measure, but am less hopeful of success there.
 

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Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
1
Interesting option! It occurred to me that I may end up going the expensive CD-ROM drive route anyway, since working with genuine CDs is, in a technical sense, less hassle than anything I could do with ISOs and alternative storage...

A coworker is bringing in what he described as a "box o' PCMCIA" - I'll see what's in it. Maybe there's one network card among them that will work.

Also:

The backlight died last night, forcing me to use an external monitor for the time being. :( I'm not against opening the thing up and attempting half-assed repair...
 
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Roderick Usher

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 9, 2006
182
1
One thing I didn't notice until just now is that the title bar on the TCP/IP control panel is nonstandard; I'm wondering if it's connected with "Ethernet" not showing up as an option.



Looked up the name "Farallon" and they seem to have specialized in networking solutions for Macs during the uneasy period when Ethernet was taking off but didn't have native support in hardware or software. They produced, among other things, a LocalTalk-to-Ethernet bridge.

Not sure if that's what the previous owners had hooked up to this machine, though. I looked for extensions with the name "Farallon" and disabled them but the control panel is still nonstandard. Verrrry interesting...
 
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