Share This Article
Apple has long been synonymous with innovation in the tech world, and one of its trailblazing products that still holds a special place in the hearts of vintage tech enthusiasts is the Macintosh PowerBook 520. Released on May 16, 1994, this notebook was part of the iconic Macintosh PowerBook series, and it left a lasting impact on the portable computing landscape.
At its debut, the PowerBook 520 was the epitome of cutting-edge technology. Packed with a 25 MHz Motorola 68LC040 processor, a 9.5-inch monochrome LCD display, and 4 MB or 12 MB of RAM, this notebook boasted impressive specifications ahead of its time. Its storage options were equally impressive, offering a 160 MB or 240 MB hard drive and a 1.44 MB floppy drive.
Such power and capabilities made it a preferred choice for power users who demanded high performance on the go. Creative professionals and tech enthusiasts found the PowerBook 520 to be a perfect companion for their demanding workloads, thanks to the latest software and hardware features integrated into the device.
In the mid-1990s, the PowerBook 520 stood out as a premium product, with a starting price tag of $2,250. While it may have seemed steep at the time, users quickly realized that the investment was well worth it. The PowerBook 520 provided unparalleled portability and performance, giving users the freedom to be productive wherever they went.
The legacy of the PowerBook 520 lives on today, as it marks 29 years since its initial release. Vintage tech enthusiasts still hunt for this classic gem to add to their collections. Its enduring popularity speaks volumes about Apple’s commitment to delivering innovative and quality products.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the PowerBook 520 was its code name, “Blackbird.” This code name represented a new era of PowerBooks built on the 68LC040 processor. These 500 series PowerBooks were pioneers in many ways, introducing groundbreaking features that set them apart from their competitors.
The PowerBook 520 was the first-ever portable computer to feature a trackpad, a precursor to the touchpad technology that is now ubiquitous in modern laptops. It was also the first to include a PCMCIA (later known as PC Card) slot, providing expandability and convenience for users. The integration of stereo speakers and built-in ethernet made it a multimedia powerhouse ahead of its time.
Perhaps one of the most lauded features of the PowerBook 520 was its “intelligent” NiMH battery, which significantly improved battery life compared to its predecessors. Users marveled at the dual battery slots, which allowed them to enjoy up to 4 hours of uninterrupted usage with a charged pair of batteries. The PowerBook 520’s design was ahead of its time, incorporating a full-sized keyboard with 12 function keys, making it incredibly user-friendly and versatile.
Moreover, the PowerBook 520 was designed to be future-proof, as it could be upgraded with a PowerPC processor, showing Apple’s commitment to supporting its products and customers even beyond their initial release.
The PowerBook 500 series, including the PowerBook 520, was launched amidst Apple’s transition from the 68k line of CPUs to the new PowerPC chip. This promising PowerPC upgrade and the addition of the PC Card expansion generated significant excitement among customers. However, Apple faced challenges due to its overly optimistic market predictions, leading to shortages during the initial launch.
Despite its eventual discontinuation on June 10, 1995, the Macintosh PowerBook 520 remains a cherished and sought-after piece of tech history. Its groundbreaking design, powerful performance, and exceptional durability continue to resonate with vintage tech enthusiasts, making it a testament to Apple’s enduring commitment to innovation.
The PowerBook 520’s influence on the tech world is still felt to this day, and it will forever hold a special place in the hearts of those who appreciate the pioneers that paved the way for modern portable computing. As we celebrate its 29-year anniversary, let’s raise a toast to the legacy of the Macintosh PowerBook 520, an emblem of Apple’s unparalleled ingenuity and vision in the world of technology.
Macintosh PowerBook 520 Details
|Introduced||May 16, 1994|
|Discontinued||June 10, 1995|
|Dimensions||2.3” H x 11.5” W x 9.7” D|
5.84 cm H x 29.21 cm W x 24.63 cm D
PowerBook 520 Tech Specs
|Processor Speed||25 MHz|
|Number of Cores||1|
|System Bus||25 MHz|
|Cache||8 KB L1|
Storage & Media
|Media||1 – 1.44 MB floppy|
|Built-in Memory||4 MB|
|Maximum Memory||36 MB|
|Memory Slots||1 – PB 5xx|
|Minimum Speed||70 ns|
|Built-in Display||9.5″ monochrome FSTN passive-matrix 4-bit LCD|
|Resolutions||640 x 480|
|Graphics Memory||512 KB|
|Display Connection||1 – Mini-15|
Optional Type II/III PC Card Bay
|Hard Drive Interface||SCSI|
|Bays||PowerBook Expansion Bay PDS (90-pin)|
|Ethernet||1 – AAUI-15|
|SCSI||1 – HDI-30|
|Audio In||1 – 3.5-mm analog input jack|
1 – Built-in microphone
|Audio Out||1 – 3.5-mm analog output jack|
1 – Built-in speaker
|Display||1 – Mini-15|
Keyboard and trackpad
|Keyboard||Built-in 64-key (U.S.) or 64-key (ISO) 3.0-mm travel keyboard|
|Trackpad||Built-in trackpad pointing device|
|Original OS||System Software 7.1.1|
|Maximum OS||Mac OS 8.1|
|System Battery||PowerBook 500 Intelligent Battery M1906 (NiMH)|
|Maximum Continuous Power||40 W|
Further Reading and References
- Macintosh PowerBook 520: Technical Specifications – Apple Support
- PowerBook 500 series – Wikipedia
- PowerBook 520 – Low End Mac
- Apple Macintosh Powerbook 520 – OldCrap
- PowerBook 500 Series Service Source (PDF) – Apple Repair Manuals
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: July 30, 2023