| A "Pismo" PowerBook |
A "Pismo" PowerBook
|Developer||Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.)|
|Release date||November 1997|
|CPU||PowerPC G3, 233 - 500 MHz|
The PowerBook G3 was a professional line of laptop Macintosh computers made by Apple Computer between 1997 and 2000. It was the first laptop to use the PowerPC G3 (PPC740/750) series of microprocessors. It was succeeded by the Titanium PowerBook G4 line in 2001, which used the PowerPC G4 (PPC74xx) series of microprocessors.
The first Macintosh PowerBook G3, codenamed "Kanga" was introduced in November 1997. At the time of its introduction, the PowerBook G3 was advertised as the fastest notebook computer available (a title formerly held by its predecessor, the 240 MHz PPC 603ev-based 3400c). This model was based on the PowerBook 3400, and was unofficially known as the PowerBook 3500. It uses the same case as a 3400, and a very similar motherboard. The motherboard was upclocked from 40 MHz to 50 MHz, resulting in some incompatibility with older 3400 RAM modules. Other changes to the motherboard included doubling the on-board RAM from 16 MB to 32 MB, and a faster version of the on-board Chips and Technologies graphics controller than the 3400 had. The G3 made the Kanga more than twice as fast as a 3400, and the improved graphics controller allowed it to refresh the screen 74 percent faster.
This first PowerBook G3 shipped with a 250 MHz G3 processor and a 12.1" TFT SVGA LCD. It is the only G3 system that is not officially compatible with Mac OS X. The Kanga was on the market for less than 5 months, and is largely regarded as a stopgap system that allowed Apple to ship G3 PowerBooks in a preexisting Apple design while Apple prepared its more revolutionary PowerBook G3 Series. As a result, the Kanga has the dubious distinction of being Apple's fastest depreciating PowerBook.
PowerBook G3 Series (Wallstreet Series I)Edit
The second generation of PowerBook G3s with the name PowerBook G3 series (Mainstreet/Wallstreet) were introduced on March 1998 with redesigned case which was lighter and more round and was still an Old World ROM Mac. 233 MHz (no L2 cache 13.3" version, no L2 cache in one of the 14.1" versions, other one having 512 KB. L2 cachless uses the PPC740), 250 MHz and 292 MHz version were made available with three display options which were 12" passive matrix LCD, 13.3" TFT LCD and 14.1" TFT LCD. First version of Wallstreet were getting hot because of the speed bus 83 MHz on the top model 292 MHz and 1 MB L2 cache and Apple quickly replaced the whole line and placed another logic board and cpu with less L2 cache to 512 KB.
Powerbook G3 Series (Wallstreet Series II, AKA PDQ)Edit
The same design was updated on August 1998 (Wallstreet-II) and featured a 14.1" display on all models. Processors were bumped with 233 MHz, 266 MHz and 300 MHz models. The case contained two docking bays, one on each side. The left hand bay could accommodate a battery, a 3.5" floppy disk drive, a third-party Iomega Zip drive, or a third-party add-on hard drive. The right hand bay was larger and could accommodate all of the above plus a 5-1/4" optical drive (CD-ROM or DVD-ROM). A small internal nickel-cadmium battery allowed swapping of the main batteries while the computer "slept". With a battery in each bay, battery life was doubled. DVDs could be displayed with the use of a hardware decoder built into a CardBus (PCMCIA) card. The PowerBook G3 Series was Apple's first notebook offering to match the build-to-order customizability of the Power Mac G3 desktop line. Discontinued in May 1999, this would be the last Apple computer ever to use the rainbow-colored Apple logo.
PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze Keyboard)Edit
The third generation of PowerBook G3 (Lombard) was introduced in May 1999. It was much thinner and lighter than its predecessor and was the first New World ROM PowerBook. It had longer battery life, and the user could double the duration to 10 hours by substituting a second battery for the optical drive in the expansion bay. The keyboard was also improved and now featured translucent bronze-tinted plastics, which is the origin of the "bronze keyboard" nickname. The Lombard was the second PowerBook (the Wallstreet being the first) to use industry-standard ATA optical drives. This change meant that CD and DVD recorders designed by other manufacturers could more easily be used in this computer, often at a price far less than those manufactured by Apple. Internal Hard Drives for the Pismo, Lombard and Wallstreet II can be used interchangeably. The expansion bay drives (DVD, CD, floppy, battery) are interchangeable on the Pismo and Lombard, but not on the Wallstreet. A DVD drive was optional on the 333 MHz model and standard on the 400 MHz version. The 400 MHz model included a hardware MPEG-2 decoder for DVD playback, while the 333 MHz model was left without (except for the PC card one used by Wallstreet). Further DVD playback optimizations enabled both models to play back DVDs without use of hardware assistance. This model introduced USB ports to the PowerBook line while retaining SCSI support and eliminating ADB entirely (although the keyboard and touchpad still used an ADB interface internally). Graphics were provided by a Rage LT Pro chipset on the PCI bus, to drive its 14.1-inch LCD at a maximum resolution of 1024 x 768.
Mac OS 8.6 - 10.3.9 is supported by Apple, but 10.4 is not, although there are issues when installing Mac OS X (above 10.0) if both RAM slots are not occupied with identical size RAM (ie. OS X will not install). The use of XPostFacto 4 allows users to upgrade to Tiger, and it runs quite well for an unsupported machine. More RAM (up to 512 MB), a larger hard drive (up to 128 GB), and CPU upgrades (up to a 433 MHz G4) are available for these PowerBooks.
PowerBook G3 (FireWire)Edit
A fourth generation of PowerBook G3 (Pismo), with the name PowerBook, was introduced in February 2000. It was code named "Pismo" after the City of Pismo Beach, California.
The original Pismo was rumored to be a latchless design, akin to the iBook, which is similar in specification. Apple settled on fitting the Pismo board into the form factor of the previous Lombard G3 PowerBook, but with many improvements. The Pismo was available at a CPU clock of 400 or 500 MHz, with a front side bus of 100 MHz, one-third faster than the Lombard's front side bus; it also implemented a unified motherboard architecture, and replaced SCSI with the newer FireWire interface (IEEE-1394). The PCI graphics used on the Lombard were updated to an AGP-connected Rage Mobility 128, though the video memory was kept at 8 MB, and the screen's resolution was the same as well. A 2x DVD-ROM drive became standard for both speed grades. It was also the first PowerBook with AirPort networking as an official option (although it could be added to the earlier models via various third-party CardBus (PCMCIA) cards). The Pismo can be upgraded with additional RAM (up to one gigabyte), a larger hard drive (up to 120 GB). Brighter screens and replacement batteries are also available.
The left expansion bay, like the Lombard, could only take a battery, but the right bay was able to accommodate a tray-loading or slot-loading Combo Drive or SuperDrive, a Zip 100 drive, a Zip 250 drive, an LS-120 SuperDisk drive, a VST floppy disk drive, a second hard drive (with adapter, which were difficult to find), or a second battery. Since the Lombard and Pismo share expansion bay designs, they could use each other's devices.
Versions of Mac OS from 9.0.2 through 10.4.11 are currently supported. For some time, G3 (750FX) CPU upgrades at speeds of up to 900 MHz and G4 (7410LE) upgrades up to 550 MHz were available, except for offerings from Daystar and Other World Computing these upgrades are now out of production and must be purchased secondhand. Daystar was working on a video upgrade for these popular PowerBooks, however, it never reached production.
The Pismo PowerBook was the last of the G3 line. It was succeeded by the PowerBook G4 Titanium models. It is still not uncommon to see Pismos today, as the expandability offered by the expansion bay, and the durability, as compared to the Titanium PowerBook G4s (especially in hinge quality and scratch-resistance), is exceptional.
The G3 in Popular CultureEdit
The PowerBook G3 was featured prominently on the hit show Sex and the City, where it was used by Carrie Bradshaw. The show's pilot first ran in June 1998, and in the episode "My Motherboard, My Self", Carrie identifies her PowerBook as her "98 laptop", but for most of the run a Lombard or Pismo was used, identifiable by the white Apple logo at the top of the screen. In earlier episodes of the TV drama show Charmed, Phoebe Halliwell is shown using a PowerBook G3.
The G3 has also been featured in the movie "What Women Want" as Nick Marshall's (Mel Gibson) personal laptop. Additionally, it was seen in the movie "Duplex" as the laptop Alex Rose (Ben Stiller) used to write his novel. In "Mission Impossible 2" (Antony Hopkins) shows Ethan his mission on a Powerbook G3 Wallstreet. In "The Kid" (Bruce Willis) has a Powerbook G3 Pismo when he is on the plane.
A G3 PowerBook (Lombard or Pismo) can be seen in some episodes of Stargate SG-1 in use by General Hammond.
- Apple Support PowerBook G3
- How to Identify Different Models at Apple.com
- Portable Mac index at Lowendmac
- Pictures of Pismo internals