Macintosh PowerBook 170 Macintosh PowerBook 170

Macintosh PowerBook 170 Explained

On October 21st, 1991, Apple unveiled a groundbreaking notebook computer that would forever change the landscape of portable computing. The Macintosh PowerBook 170, part of the iconic PowerBook series, captured the hearts of tech enthusiasts with its impressive specifications and sleek design. While it may be considered a relic by today’s standards, this beloved machine still holds a special place in Apple’s history, serving as a nostalgic reminder of its early days in the realm of mobile computing.

The Macintosh PowerBook 170 was a high-end option for those seeking a portable Macintosh experience. Equipped with a 25 MHz Motorola 68030 processor and a Motorola 68882 FPU coprocessor, it delivered superior performance compared to its predecessors.

The inclusion of an active matrix screen was a significant step forward, offering users a sharper and more vibrant visual experience. With its 9.8″ monochrome LCD display, 4 MB of RAM, and a configurable hard drive ranging from 40 MB to 80 MB, the PowerBook 170 boasted impressive specifications for its time.

Despite its undeniable appeal, the Macintosh PowerBook 170’s reign was relatively short-lived. After just a year on the market, Apple discontinued the model on October 19th, 1992. However, its impact on the industry was undeniable. The PowerBook 170 paved the way for subsequent generations of PowerBooks, showcasing Apple’s commitment to innovation and pushing the boundaries of portable computing.

Today, 32 years later, the Macintosh PowerBook 170 remains a symbol of Apple’s early strides in the mobile computing arena. While its specifications may pale in comparison to modern laptops, the PowerBook 170’s significance lies in its historical importance. It serves as a tangible connection to Apple’s journey, showcasing the brand’s evolution from its humble beginnings to the technological powerhouse it is today.

During its time, the PowerBook 170 received special treatment in the form of limited-edition releases. Apple unveiled a multicolored version of the Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), reflecting the company’s commitment to catering to diverse markets. Additionally, a white “10th Anniversary Mac” version was introduced in 1994, further solidifying the PowerBook 170’s place in Apple’s legacy.

The Macintosh PowerBook 170 may have faded into obscurity over the years, but its impact on Apple’s portable computing journey is undeniable. It represented a pivotal moment in the evolution of laptops, demonstrating Apple’s commitment to innovation and user experience.

While newer and more advanced models may have replaced it, the PowerBook 170’s significance as a piece of Apple’s history remains intact. As we look back on this iconic machine, we’re reminded of the company’s enduring legacy and the foundations upon which its modern success was built.

PowerBook 170
Source: – PowerBook 170

Macintosh PowerBook 170 Details

IntroducedOctober 21, 1991
DiscontinuedOctober 19, 1992
Model Identifier21
Model NumberM1057LL/A
Original Price$4,600
Weight6.8 Ibs.
3.084 KG
Dimensions2.25” H x 11.25” W x 9.3” D
5.71 cm H x 28.57 cm W x 23.62 cm D

PowerBook 170 Tech Specs


ProcessorMotorola 68030
Processor Speed25 MHz
Number of Cores1
System Bus25 MHz
Cache0.5 KB L1
CoprocessorMotorola 68882 FPU

Storage & Media

Storage40 MB
80 MB
Media1.44 MB floppy


Built-in Memory4 MB
Maximum Memory8 MB
Memory Slots1 – PowerBook 1xx (70-pin connector)
Minimum Speed100 ns
Interleaving SupportNo


Built-in Display9.8″ diagonal active matrix transflective LCD
Resolutions640 x 400


Graphics CardNone
Graphics MemoryNone
Display ConnectionNone


Expansion SlotsInternal 20-pin connector for the optional 2400-baud modem card
Hard Drive Interface30-pin SCSI


Original OSSystem Software 7.0.1
Maximum OSMac OS 7.6.1
FirmwareMacintosh ROM


ModemInternal 2400-bps
Floppy PortNone
Audio In1 – 3.5-mm analog input jack
1 – Built-in microphone
Audio Out1 – 3.5-mm analog output jack
1 – Built-in speaker

Keyboard and trackpad

KeyboardBuilt-in 64-key (U.S.) or 64-key (ISO) 3.0-mm travel keyboard
TrackpadBuilt-in 25-mm trackball pointing device


System Battery2.5-ampere-hour NiCad battery
Backup Battery3 V lithium
Maximum Continuous Power17 W
Line VoltageUnknown
Power AdapterUnknown

Further Reading and References

Disclaimer: The data presented in this article is under continuous development and has been manually collected from various sources based on their availability. The author of this article may revise this dataset as additional research is conducted and reviewed. Please note that the information is provided “as is” and “as available” without express or implied warranties. The author cannot be held responsible for any omissions, inaccuracies, or errors in the published information. Any warranties relating to this information are hereby disclaimed.

Last updated: June 3, 2023