Son of Helios


Created on a four-and-a-half pound subnotebook

Greetings from a PowerBook 2400c. It's time for a battery test. It's 11:55 AM, computer booted up probably 2 minutes ago. It seems...longer when waiting for it to start.

The PowerBook 2400c came out in ~1997, so twenty years ago. The fact that the battery functions at all is a miracle; the fact I can get over a half hour is astonishing. Something I've forgotten with more modern hardware is the NOISE. The old hard drive in this is noisy. Just when it's spinning, not just reading/writing. The system spins it down after a couple minutes of inactivity and you can hear it, clearly. I didn't realize due tohow long I've had an SSD in my laptop (and granted, when working, I do always have music playing as well)

This laptop has 2 PC card slots, I've been moving files back and forth between my OS X machine via compact flash, in a PCMCIA adapter on here, via USB on the desktop. No networking has been set up yet. Interestingly (well, to the right person), I have been unable to get any operating system other than Mac OS 8.1 to read and write to the compact flash card. The card is formatted HFS+, or "Macintosh Extended", which can still be read and written to via Mac OS X 10.12. Mac OS 8.1 introduced support for this format...I've upgraded and tested this laptop to both Mac OS 8.5, 8.5.1, and 8.6, and all three are unable to write anything larger than a text file or two to the card without freezing. 

I'm not sure I'll need an OS higher than 8.1 yet, so it doesn't really matter, but it's been a fussy journey trying to make sure I can move files in two directions, rather than a one way street.

One of the ways I attempt to justify keeping old technology around is to find a purpose for the machines. (Naturally this is mostly backwards justification for keeping what I want to have)

What is the purpose of this machine? It's an intermediary between Mac OS X and any older hardware. Due to the PC card transfer, as well as a SCSI port and so on, this machine can bridge system 7 and the newer items. I don't have nostalgia for this particular machine as I never owned one when younger-- this was a very expensive business class machine for travellers who wanted the most power and most portable mac possible. It's rarity makes it appealing right now as it's hard to come by in the states, as it was primarily designed for the Japanese market. 

I did have a PowerBook Duo for awhile when I was a teenager, and I recently owned one again, but the lack of simple file transfer capability meant it was more hassle than I wanted. The simplicity of downlading something from the macintosh repository and popping the compact flash card in makes it more useful. The Duo would require a dock and some other hardware I didn't have. 

What's next? Figuring out networking of some kind. I know there are farallon ethernet cards that are easy to come by as well as Lucent wavelan cards for basic wireless, but a lack of WEP support for wireless doens't make it as appealing as you'd think (aside from the delightful novelty of a 20 year old machine online). I've read about bluetooth support for the Newton; I don't know if anyone created bluetooth drivers for Mac OS 9 or earlier. It's worth investigating.

I'm also interested in any weird music or audio PC cards and software. I'd like to pickup some kind of serial -> midi converter, as well as experiment with an old version of Digital Performer.

more to come.

<< Go back to the previous page