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Saved from Trash! Macintosh Portable from 1989!

Arcady

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Jan 1, 2013
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Louisville, Kentucky USA
I was helping a friend's parents fix their Windows Vista computer (yuck) and they mentioned something about having a bunch of old computers in the basement. They asked if I wanted any of it. Most of what I found was old Windows 98 type stuff, but in a corner was this nice black bag with an Apple rainbow logo on it.

A Macintosh Portable computer from 1989, in the original carrying case, with a bunch of floppy disks and the AC adapter. They gave it to me for nothing, since they said it stopped working around 2000 or 2001 and they just gave up and put it in the basement. They were about to send it off to recycling along with a bunch of Gateway and Dell junk.

mac_portable.jpg

It does not turn on. The power receptacle seems to be loose. This is the only model of Macintosh made from 1984 until 1995 that I have never even touched before. The system appears to be complete, with a 40 meg hard drive and a RAM card, plus a modem card installed in it. There was a 9 volt battery that had a 2002 expiration date on it, and the Apple internal battery that looks original.

Does anyone know of a guide to disassembly for this? I'd like to check the power connector first. Do I need a working main battery for this to power on? I did put in a fresh 9V battery but that made no difference.
 

Pepinno

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Nice find!

I am of no help, but I hope that you get it working and post pictures of it back to its old glory!
 

NeXT

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The portable will not turn on unless you have a good main battery in it, even if you're running off AC power.
It will also not run currently because all of their surface mount capacitors have leaked. If it DOES turn on don't be suprised if you get some really wacky problems.
 

RWallmow

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I have rebuilt one of these before, the key is the battery, it will not boot without a functioning battery unless its fed with an overpowered power supply, which most techies will not recommend as it could damage it more in the long term than its worth getting running in the short term. I dremeled the top off the stock battery and replaced the 3 lead-acid cells that are inside it (which are still currently manufactured).

Beyond the battery, those Conner SCSI hard drives are kind of notorious (in a bad way), but it is possible, albeit difficult to build an adapter to use a standard 3.5" SCSI hard drive or SSD.

See my Macintosh Portable page for a bit more info (though my page is not real detailed, I must admit).

EDIT: Next beat me to it by 1min...
 
Last edited:

RWallmow

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...It will also not run currently because all of their surface mount capacitors have leaked. If it DOES turn on don't be suprised if you get some really wacky problems.

Mine never did have leaking or even bulging caps, but caps of this era in several macs are known to go, so, he is right, it is something to look for.
 

barythrin

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That's great to know. I found one for cheap recently as well and obviously it also did nothing when I tried to power it on. I ended up having too much trouble getting the back off (or back on once it only came off a little bit) so I put it back and hadn't played with it. I think I may have had the lid open when I tried to crack the back which ended up snagging on itself. So a probably important detail is leave it closed if you open the back up.

This seems to have some info on a replacement battery part and some better picture instructions on taking the system apart.

I wonder how common it it across old laptops to not power on due to internal battery issues. In the late 90s I saw a lot of that issue. Some laptops wouldn't power on with a bad battery installed so you had to remove the battery, others if the battery was overcharged it wouldn't turn on, and others wouldn't turn on *WITHOUT* a battery. One 386 laptop a friend was able to figure out the 4 pins the battery used and soldered a power supply to the battery leads to get around that but obviously that's not recommended.

Let us know how it goes. It's great when they've been taken care of. For a long time they sold for pretty high amounts even without the working status. Our goodwill back in .. maybe 1999 or so had a few of them for sale but had removed the battery and had no power supply and they wanted $65 each as is. I thought it was too much but after seeing them sell in the $200 range on ebay for a while went back to reconsider but they were all sold.
 

NeXT

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Don't even second guess. I'm finding similar value surface mount caps in equally old hardware that IS NOT mac and they're leaking too.
It's a timed thing that's going to happen with age. Expect the next ten years to really suck for late 80's and 90's electronics because a lot of hardware is not going to behave until you recap it.
 

njroadfan

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Don't even second guess. I'm finding similar value surface mount caps in equally old hardware that IS NOT mac and they're leaking too.
It's a timed thing that's going to happen with age. Expect the next ten years to really suck for late 80's and 90's electronics because a lot of hardware is not going to behave until you recap it.

That point as already been reached. All those late 80s-early 90s SMD capacitors were lousy and a royal PITA to replace. My Mac Portable died a long time ago, and my Amiga 4000 already has sound issues. Meanwhile the traditional through-hole electrolytics from that era are still working fine.
 

ki4swy

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most thru hole caps in arcades are failing now, but oddly, the nichochin(sp) still seem to be working.

good find on the mac portable!
 

RWallmow

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most thru hole caps in arcades are failing now, but oddly, the nichochin(sp) still seem to be working.

good find on the mac portable!

I have a 4 year old high-end HP XW9400 Workstation with failing through the hole caps, about half a dozen are bulging about to blow. It doesn't seem to be all about age, I think it has almost as much if not more to do with usage, in this case the XW9400 has been running nearly 24/7 for 4 years.

Now granted, I didn't know the usage on my Portable, but the thing was pristine looking, so I am thinking it was used very little, so that is probably why mine hadn't failed and leaked all over itself.

Now, my current SE/30, that thing looks like it was "rode hard and put away wet", its no surprise to me its caps leaked all over itself. Having "corporate asset" stickers all over it, it would not surprise me if it was also a 24/7 machine, I mean who here turns off their works computers? No one, that's who ;-)


Anyways, Arcady, Congrats! And remember there's quite a few of us here who know portables, and Macs in general that should be able to help you out with about all that you would need to get this thing working. And if you decide not to take up the challenge, I am sure there's quite a few here who would LOVE to take on the project ;-)
 

Arcady

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Louisville, Kentucky USA
Thanks for all the information and tips.

Can I run DC power to where the battery would have been in order to do some testing? Or will the charging circuit mess up that idea? I'm not sure I want to spend money on a lead acid battery before I know if the rest is fixable.
 

RWallmow

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Thanks for all the information and tips.

Can I run DC power to where the battery would have been in order to do some testing? Or will the charging circuit mess up that idea? I'm not sure I want to spend money on a lead acid battery before I know if the rest is fixable.

While not recommended, yes, you could hook 6v to the battery terminals, be sure its enough amps to power the thing, and I would NOT plug in the stock adapter, just let it think its being powered from battery.

Some people have, rather than rebuild the stock battery, used a generic 6v lead acid in its place to power it too, so if you have a 6v battery already, you could give that a try too.

The 9V battery is also required to properly power the "power on circuit" and keep time/settings. Once you are all set to go, any keyboard key should power-on the portable, as it has no dedicated "power button".
 

NobodyIsHere

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Hi
Wow, I haven't seen one of those in many years.

Does that Mac Laptop use the 2.5" SCSI laptop drive?

Thanks!

Andrew Lynch
 

RWallmow

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Hi
Wow, I haven't seen one of those in many years.

Does that Mac Laptop use the 2.5" SCSI laptop drive?

Thanks!

Andrew Lynch

No, its a full 3.5" SCSI drive, on a proprietary 40-pin combined data and power cable. I crimped up a 40 pin to 50pin+molex for the one I used to have, it would detect and boot just about any SCSI hard drive, could be a candidate for the SCSI>IDE/SD project now that its taking off!
 

NobodyIsHere

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Hi! Yes, that's what I was wondering. Early in the SCSI to IDE/SD project someone asked for a Mac Laptop 2.5" SCSI connector be added to it. So it is there now and we need some help testing with the Mac computers. This is the rather funky looking 50 pin 2mm spacing dual row connector, right? It is really an odd duck...

Might be a good test case though. I'd imagine a S2I with IDE/CF to use a lot less power than a 3.5" drive. Quieter too!

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch
 

NeXT

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The original Mac Portable battery was three 2v Cyclon batteries in series.

macportable-battery.jpg
 

RWallmow

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Hi! Yes, that's what I was wondering. Early in the SCSI to IDE/SD project someone asked for a Mac Laptop 2.5" SCSI connector be added to it. So it is there now and we need some help testing with the Mac computers. This is the rather funky looking 50 pin 2mm spacing dual row connector, right? It is really an odd duck...

Might be a good test case though. I'd imagine a S2I with IDE/CF to use a lot less power than a 3.5" drive. Quieter too!

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

It was the later PowerBook series that uses 2.5" SCSI, which is a rare, but still used outside Macs, It had some industrial and I believe some music (samplers, and the like) devices that used that connector as well.

The 40 pin SCSI+Power cable in the Portable, is totally unique to the Mac Portable, no other devices using this that I know of.
 
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