Very old PowerBook recommendations?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by alex_ant, Nov 11, 2002.

  1. alex_ant macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2002
    All up in your bidness
    My brother is in the market for, in his words, a "portable word processor." He wants to be able to write wherever he goes. I suggested an old PowerBook.

    - He doesn't need anything fancy. Networking capability (or at least expandability) would be nice but not a requirement. Same for a CD-ROM drive: Nice, but not a requirement.
    - He needs to be able to transfer files from his iMac DV to it. Since the PowerBook won't have USB or Firewire and since the iMac doesn't have serial or parallel ports...?
    - He doesn't need anything fast. Or even with a color screen. A backlit screen would be nice, though. All he has to be able to do is type on it without it breaking down on him.

    So my question is... what would be the best options for used PowerBooks? Are some less flaky than others, or some that age better? Are batteries still available for any of them, and are they expensive? Would it be possible to get a really old PB for under $100? $75? What would be the best word processing software for one of these puppies - Word 5, old version of ClarisWorks? Thanks for any advice.
  2. Mighty Mac macrumors member

    Jan 10, 2002
    A chance

    I have an old PB165c. All loaded works great used to use it for school when I felt like typing out of the room. It is really another family members who has switched to the dark side.

    Comes with
    Word (can read wood 2000 files)
    Lotus 132
    and a buch of other things.

    I have a serial to Rj45 powered by ADB port works well.

    I used to have a little nework to transfer files.

    Used very often the track ball is sticky (fixable, and have a ADBmouse)

    If you are interested please Email me at

    It is a bit of a colectors Item. And I can send it with all software in original packaging (for the software).
  3. crassusad44 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 30, 2001
    PB 190, 5x0 or 1400

    I would recommend a PowerBook 520 or 540 or one of the PowerBook 1400 series, preferably buy one with an ethernet port already installed. A 1400 model would be preferred, since it can run Office 98, and thus exchange files from Office 2001 and Office v. X effortlessly.

    If you can't find a 1400 in your price range, look at the 5x0 series (68k) or the 190 series (also 68k, but with PPC capability).

    You can find more about these models on: or
  4. cubist macrumors 68020

    Jul 4, 2002
    Muncie, Indiana
    Yes, you can easily get an old powerbook for under $100...

    ... for example, a PB 140, 160 or 170 goes for around $50 nowadays. The problem you are going to have is finding a good battery, because these machines will not work without a working battery, even using the line adapter. The Duos are really spiffy, being really small. The 180C is very rare. I doubt you'll find one. Avoid the PowerBook 100 (unless it's really cheap) or the Macintosh Portable; they use lead-acid batteries which are, well, really heavy, and won't work without a battery installed. None of the 100-series have Ethernet, so transferring files could be a problem. You could get a USB floppy for the iMac.

    The 520/540 series will work without a battery, but you will never find a good battery. They are 68040's and will cost a little more. Also, they have ethernet and SCSI. With an AAUI transceiver and a crossover cable or hub, it's no problem transferring files. However, you can't get a lot of memory in these models.

    Any Powerbook with a PowerPC will cost over $100, but may be worth it anyway. They all have Ethernet.

    When I had a 520C I used MacWrite II. Appleworks 5 might have worked, but I didn't try it. Appleworks imported the files without a problem.

    The danger in using one of these old machines is that you'll be tempted to go looking for accessories and batteries. I very nearly fell in love with the 520C.
  5. BenderBot1138 macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2002
    Very old PowerBooks...

    Absolutely possible... in the words of Mel Blanc... Five bucks ... Five bucks ... Five bucks... but for you, Four bucks!

    try eB*y for hardware... as for software...eB*y...just kidding about the software; A cool start on your road to finding software for Apples can be found by visiting Apple's Older Software Site. You'll find ClarisWorks and other software there as you requested for various hardware (well up to a certain point anyway).

    Like buying a Car, keep at the hunt for a Powerbook, and eventually you'll strike a balance between your needs, wants, and ability to pay.

    As for Apple Legacy Hardware, most of it runs better than todays non-Apple systems :D

  6. evildead macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2001
    WestCost, USA

    When looking at older PowerBooks... you have to remember that Apples have a high resale value and thats not good for used buyers. You might be better off getting a cheep NEW iBook. All portables are subject to abuse.. they get luged arround all over, coffee spills and freuent oops.. .I didnt mean to drop that. While they might still work.. you never know how long they well last. The new iBooks are very durable and not that expensive considering what your getting. Apple has sold thousands of the new iBooks to schools and I heard from an apple rep that the only one that came back from damage was one that had the LCD blown off with a shotgun!... they were able to slap on a new LCD and send it back.

    Some of my friends that have older PowerBooks... well... want a new one. Their old ones are staring to die on them...and they are planning to clean them up and sell them on eBay... hope you don't buy from them.

    Plus... if your brother is going to be hanging at the local starbux writing... he wants to impress the girl with sheek-geek glasses and curry brown hair thats sitting a few tables over sipping on a Double Non-fat latte and reading some book for her Eng. Lit . class... right? "Wow.. I have seen those on at Sex in the City show... so ... what are you writing"
  7. alex_ant thread starter macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2002
    All up in your bidness
    Well... My brother is 13 and has no money, so that's why it has to be cheap. :) I'd really like to stay under $100. So I'm looking most closely at the 520/540. I wish Apple would have had less confusing model names during the early-mid '90s.

    Thank you, BenderBot, for that link! That is awesome that Apple makes so much old software available for free. I had no idea. And thanks to everyone else for replying, too.
  8. BenderBot1138 macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2002
    Very Old PowerBooks

    Ok, so long shot here, you can try to find a local "Computer Donations for Children" or "Computers 4 Kids" Charity. I'm not sure about the exact names of these Charities but a little googling might find more for you.

    These charities usually take donations of old computers, and do their best to refurbish and resell at very cheap prices. Check the internet for these places and email those that are not local, specifying your purchase desires.

    I don't know how extensive these places are, etc, but it seems to match what you are looking for. You can find an example site by clicking here or here..

    While there may not be a local charity like this for you, once again, an email to a non-local chapter might yield some results for you.
  9. GeeYouEye macrumors 68000


    Dec 9, 2001
    State of Denial
    A 540 would probably be decent for those purposes. But to be honest, I'd just go for an older iBook.
  10. Gus macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2002
    While it's true that the 520/40 and 1400 series is ethernet-capable, they require a special cable or "dongle" ro connect with the standard connection. These can be hard to find nowadays. I have had both a 1400 and a 520c , and to be honest, I liked the 520 better. I know the 1400 was faster, but that 520 was a workhorse. Check a couple of the online retailers. I know that has 5300s for 100+ dollars, as well as other older laptops. I would personally avoid the 1xx series, but that is just me. Also, if you want wireless internet, the 1400 is capable of using the Orinoco series wireless cards, but you CANNOT use PCMCIA cards to add Firewire or USB, because it is not Cardbus ready.

    Ok, I've rambled on long enough.
    Good Luck!


    FLASH! Wegener media has the 5300ce for $99.00. That's a steal!

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