The Ultimate PowerBook 1400 Upgrade guide (also the PB 2400 & 3400)
by Keith Benicek, Managing Editor - January 29th, 2004

Apple has designed and sold some great portables over the years, and they’re also pushed out some real stinkers too. Truly memorable PowerBooks have been the 190, 520, the first sub-notebook the PB 2400, the G3 PowerBooks and a notebook that set many trends which PC laptops later had to follow, the PowerBook 1400.

At the time of its release in 1996, the PB 1400 was a major trendsetter. It was fastest (112, 133 and 166Mhz), the first with a TFT Dual Scan LCD (1400c model) and the most expensive compared to any other PC laptop. And believe me if you don’t recall, nearly all PC portables of 1996 where hardly a “notebook” of the caliber of the PB 1400cs or 1400c.

Of the most recent Apple PowerBooks that were technologically advanced, but not of the “G3” generation, the PB 1400, 2400 and 3400 still carry a considerable following and user loyalty. From those three, the PowerBook 1400 is the cult hero just judging from its surprisingly high priced eBay resale activity and the number of Mac users I’ve met that still use them.

Hard working day-to-day journalists that aren’t on the “mine is newer/faster” trips are probably the most loyal to the PB 1400. They often sight the still unmatched keyboard touch, rugged durability and simplicity. Some prefer the 1400cs model with its surprisingly sharp bright Passive Matrix LCD display and longer battery life. Others swear by the 166Mhz 1400c and its crystal clear and extremely bright TFT Dual Scan LCD that set a benchmark, which lasted for over five years.

If memory serves me correctly, the PB 1400 were the first PowerBook that Apple started doing “Product Placements” with in movies and TV shows too. I recall seeing PB 1400’s on TV shows like News Radio (“Dave” always had one on his desk), Dream On, Just Shoot Me and Suddenly Susan to name a few. In the movies, the world was saved by a PB1400 wheeling Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day, where it parks a virus into the Aliens mother ship. There have been dozens of other PB 1400 “sightings” in many late ‘90s movies too.

I never parted with my 1997 133Mhz PB1400c, primarily because of the desktop like feel of the




keyboard which makes touch typing a joy I never felt with later G3 and G4 PowerBooks. The
compact size (but not weight) made for convenient day travel in my briefcase. I still us it and I’m writing this story on it as an honor to my tireless veteran.

So why are the PowerBook 1400’s still so popular? Because of their qualities and that they are surprisingly upgradeable. That is the reason for this story, an up-to-date compilation of everything you could and can still do with this still shinning star of the Apple PowerBook family.

Having some fun now –
Keep in mind that as much as you might love your PowerBook 1400, you aren’t going to turn it into a fire-breathing G4 killer, or even close, for that matter. But you can tweak it to the point where it can remain a viable and useful tool for you, or your older children for school.
"I recall seeing PB 1400’s on TV shows like News Radio (“Dave” always had one on his desk)....."
Some of these updates and additions are easy enough for most avid Mac owners to do, plug-n-play and pray as we always used to say. Some of the suggestions I’ll make will take some reasonable mechanical skills and a couple may take some serious tech experience. Gage your capabilities honestly and forge on carefully.

One thing that I'd like to dispel immediately, is that you are not going to be able to install OS X on any PowerBook lesser than the late 1998 G3 “Wallstreet” models, which leaves out all PB 3400, 2400 and 1400’s. The best that you can do for a recent OS on these models is OS 9.1, even OS 9.2 requires more RAM than any of these PowerBooks can have installed.

Now this is not a bad thing, MANY long-time Mac users swear that OS 9.1 was the best and fastest OS Apple ever made. OS 9.2 really is only a version made more compatible for “Classic” operation under OS X anyway and offers no major advantage over 9.1. OS 9.1 is a very stable OS and I have gone as long a year without a crash on a very clean install.


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