The PowerBook 5300 was Apple’s first PowerBook based on a PowerPC CPU. Due to fire problems with the original LithIon battery (which was recalled before it reached the consumer market), plastic chipping from the case, and poor performance (among other things), we label it a Compromised Mac. (It was also the butt of a lot of jokes.)
Still, despite some limitations, the 5300 is a nice portable, as is its 68040-based twin, the PowerBook 190. Upgrading to Mac OS 8.1 or later makes it rock solid – and it’s a lot smaller than the PowerBook G3 Series (a.k.a. WallStreet).
Apple went all out getting product placement for the 5300, and it appeared in several movies, including Independence Day (1996, below), Ransom (1996), Jingle All the Way (1996), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997, left), The Saint (1997), Free Willy 3 (1997), and Home Alone 3 (1997), and Volcano (1997).
The top-end $6,500 5300ce was the first PowerBook with an 800 x 600 pixel display. Earlier PowerBooks had been limited by 640 x 400 and 640 x 480 displays. The entry-level 5300 had a 16-shade 640 x 480 grayscale display, and the two intermediate models had 640 x 480 color screens.
By modern standards, its biggest drawback is probably the 64 MB memory ceiling, which can be overcome using RAM Doubler or Virtual Memory.
PowerBook Hard Drives: The Essential Upgrade notes that there may be compatibility issues with EIDE drives larger than 8.2 GB, although this may be resolved by partitioning or using Mac OS 8.6 or later.
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- introduced 1995.08.25 at $6,500 (5300ce); discontinued 1996.08.03
- requires System 7.5.2 (with PowerBook 5300 Enabler) through 9.1
- CPU: 100 or 117 MHz PPC 603e
- ROM: 4 MB
- RAM: 8-32 MB standard, expandable to 64 MB
- Level 2 cache: none
- 640 x 480 9.5″ 85 ppi grayscale active matrix with 16 shades
- 640 x 480 10.4″ 77 ppi color dual scan with 16-bit color
- 800 x 600 10.4″ 96 ppi color active matrix with 16-bit color
- Video out: VID-14, requires cable (Apple P/N M3927LL/A), 512 KB VRAM (1 MB on some models, which provides 16-bit video), supports 8-bit video at 640 x 480 and 832 x 624, 4-bit video at 640 x 870 and 1024 x 768
- Hard drive: 500 MB, 750 MB, or 1.1GB EIDE
- expansion bay: same as PowerBook 190
- ADB: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
- serial: 1 DIN-8 RS-422 port on back of computer
- PC Card slots: 2
- SCSI: HDI30 connector on back of computer
- PC Card slots: 2 Type II (accepts one Type III card)
- infrared: only supports Apple’s IRtalk
- size: 2.0-2.2 x 11.5 x 8.5″
- Weight: 5.9-6.2 pounds
- Gestalt ID: 128
- family number: M3135
- power supply: M3747 or M3037
- Best Classic Mac OS Deals. Best online prices for System 6, 7.1, 7.5.x, Mac OS 7.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 9.0, 9.2.2, and other versions.
- Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to Mac OS 9, 2008 Edition, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.05.12. Mac OS 9 remains fast and stable, but Classic software hasn’t kept up with the changing internet. Which Macs support OS 9, where to buy it, and how to update to 9.2.2.
- WiFi cards for PowerBooks with PC Card slots, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.08.12. PC Card and CardBus 802.11b and 802.11g cards known to be compatible with Apple’s PowerBooks.
- Environmentally Responsible Retirement for Old Macs, Rick Lawson, Pioneers in Mac Development, 2008.06.13. After you’ve scavenged what useful parts you can from your old Mac, what’s the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of the rest?
- What’s the best Mac OS for your iBook, PowerBook, or MacBook?, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2008.08.19. Tips on choosing the best OS for your PowerBook 500 Series or newer Mac notebook.
- WiFi PC Cards for PowerBooks running Mac OS 9, MetaPhyzx, Mac Daniel, 2009.03.10. PCMCIA cards and drivers reported to be compatible with the Classic Mac OS.
- Mac ‘Book Power Management Adventures, Charles W Moore, ‘Book Value, 2009.05.19. If your ‘Book won’t power up, shuts down while your working, or has other power issues, resetting its internal power manager may clear things up.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Every working computer is useful to someone, Allison Payne, The Budget Mac, 2008.11.19. Whether it’s a PowerBook 1400, G3 iMac, or Power Mac G4, it could be all the computer someone needs.
- Mac notebook share up 60% in US, Apple refurbs a great deal, RIP PowerBook G4, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2008.09.19. Also speculation on next generation MacBooks, refreshing a WallStreet, running a PowerBook 5300 from flash memory, 3G modem sale booming, bargain ‘Books from $150 to $2,699, and more.
- Portable Mac as primary vs. secondary computer, looking at ThinkPad design, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.09.17. Also learning from the Mac Portable, upgrading a PowerBook 5300, another free app to assure maintenance routines are run, and more.
- Creating Classic Mac Boot Floppies in OS X, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2008.08.07. Yes, it is possible to create a boot floppy for the Classic Mac OS using an OS X Mac that doesn’t have Classic. Here’s how.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Praise for Opera, low cost iBook mobo replacement, IrDA and IRtalk, WaMCom recommended, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.06.18. Also the use of ‘compleat’, booting from CD, new Toshiba 1.8″ drives too thick for MBA, and PowerPC support and Snow Leopard.
- OS X for PCs, Mac mini with HDTV, 802.11n options, upgrading from Mac OS 9, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.04.22. Also reviving a dead PowerBook 5300, Lucida Grande, external FireWire SuperDrive advice, OS X and the DeskWriter, and royalties.
- EmpowerBook, Tamara Keel, Digital Fossils, 2008.04.22. The goal: distraction-free writing on the go. But which PowerBook or iBook is best for the job?
- Wireless FAQ for Older Apple PowerBook Computers. Resources to help you to install and maintain 802.11b/g wireless PC Cards on older PowerBook computers.
- The Complete and Utter Guide to PC Cards and Expansion Bays on the PowerBook, Insanely Great. All about the PCMCIA, PC Card, or CardBus slots used in various PowerBooks.
- Solving Mac Startup Problems, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.12. When your old Mac won’t boot, the most likely culprits are a dead PRAM battery or a failed (or failing) hard drive.
- Better and Safer Surfing with Internet Explorer and the Classic Mac OS, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.11.06. Tips on which browsers work best with different Mac OS versions plus extra software to clean cookies and caches, detect viruses, handle downloads, etc.
- My PowerBook pilgrimage, 1996 to present, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2007.09.24. Starting with a grayscale PowerBook 5300 bought end-of-life in late 1996, the author has used six different ‘Book models over the past 11 years
- Mac System 7.5.5 Can Do Anything Mac OS 7.6.1 Can, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.06.04. Yes, it is possible to run Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and SoundJam with System 7.5.5. You just need to have all the updates – and make one modification for SoundJam.
- Silence is golden: Running your existing notebook using flash memory, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Reviews, 2007.05.23. With a new adapter from Addonics, you can replace your laptop’s IDE hard drive inexpensively and boot silently from a Compact Flash card.
- Appearance Manager Allows Internet Explorer 5.1.7 to Work with Mac OS 7.6.1, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.05.23. Want a fairly modern browser with an old, fast operating system? Mac OS 7.6.1 plus the Appearance Manager and Internet Explorer may be just what you want.
- Format Any Drive for Older Macs with Patched Apple Tools, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.04.25. Apple HD SC Setup and Drive Setup only work with Apple branded hard drives – until you apply the patches linked to this article.
- First Blu-ray drive for Apple’s ‘Books, replace notebook hard drive with Compact Flash, and more, The ‘Book Review, 2007.04.13. Also 160 GB 7200 rpm hard drives, upgrading from a MacBook Pro to a MacBook, Waterfield’s flexible new Sling bag, bargain ‘Books from $170 to $1,699, and more.
- PC Card WiFi for OS X PowerBooks, installing Classic for OS X, Gmail problem with Shiira, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2007.01.15. A low-cost WiFi PC Card for PowerBooks running OS X, tips on installing Classic under Tiger, Gmail broken with Shiira 1.2.2 browser, and stimulating a flashd rive on pre-USB PowerBooks.
- Classic install with Tiger, OS 9 browsers or plugins?, other ‘fastest’ Macs, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2007.01.03. Also a failed Tiger install via FireWire, simulating a flash drive on a 5300, Word 5.1 documents in the modern world, PowerBook power supplies, Xubunto for older Macs, and “Other Red”.
- Web leaving Mac OS 9 behind, Pismo and Tiger, USB for PowerBook 5300, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.12.11. Also a Pismo with no video, USB vs. USB and FireWire external drive enclosures, free WordPerfect download, and iListen in Canada.
- Watch out! Getting notebook design wrong, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.12.07. Some notebooks have just the right mix of design, quality, and features, but others fall seriously short of the ideal.
- System 7 Today, advocates of Apple’s ‘orphan’ Mac OS 7.6.1, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.10.26. Why Mac OS 7.6.1 is far better for 68040 and PowerPC Macs than System 7.5.x.
- Reliability can’t wait: Reflections of a MacBook guinea pig, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.15. Lesson learned from using a PowerBook 145B, PowerBook 5300c, Toshiba Portegé 4000, and MacBook: “let someone else buy the bleeding edge.”
- 30 days of old school computing: Increasing battery life with a RAM disk, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.09.14. When using the hard drive, the old battery ran out of juice within 30 minutes, but running from a RAM disk it still has a 50% charge after half an hour.
- Mac OS 8 and 8.1: Maximum Size, Maximum Convenience, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.09.11. Mac OS 8 and 8.1 add some useful new features and tools, and it can even be practical on 68030-based Macs.
- Inside your notebook’s battery: Ordinary AA Li-Ion cells, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.09.08. That expensive battery in your notebook computer probably holds less than $30 worth of off-the-shelf AA Li-Ion batteries.
- The PowerBook 5300 turns 11: A reminiscence, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.08.28. The first PowerPC PowerBook was a mixed bag with a new design, some very nice new features, some shortcomings, and a few serious problems.
- Customizing Mac OS 9, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.08.01. Fiddling with themes, picking a browser, and making the Classic Mac OS work just the way you want it to.
- Compact Flash with SCSI Macs, PB 1400 CD-RW upgrade problems, and Web incompatibilities, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2006.06.16. Suggested ways to use Compact Flash with vintage Macs and PowerBooks, problems getting CD-RW to work with a PowerBook 1400, and more thoughts on website incompatibilities.
- System 7.6.1 is perfect for many older Macs, John Martorana, That Old Mac Magic, 2006.03.24. Want the best speed from your old Mac? System 7.6.1 can give you that with a fairly small memory footprint – also helpful on older Macs.
- System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6: The beginning and end of an era, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.02.15. System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6 introduced many new features and greater modernity while staying within reach of most early Macintosh models.
- Web browser tips for the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.01.03. Tips on getting the most out of WaMCom, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, iCab, Opera, and WannaBe using the classic Mac OS.
- The best browsers for PowerPC Macs and the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2005.12.16. Two browsers stand out from the pack: iCab 3 is modern and remains under development, and WaMCom brings Mozilla to older Macs.
- Why you should use Mac OS 7.6 to get the most out of vintage Macs, Thomas Ahart, The Productive Mac, 2005.12.12. Although you may be able to run OS 8 or 9 on your old Mac, you’ll generally find better performance using Mac OS 7.6.
- The PowerBook 190: Still a great little laptop, Caleb Cupples, My Turn, 2005.12.01. The PowerBook 190 is relatively small, relatively light, fast enough, and cheap enough to carry everywhere.
- Flash memory improves PowerBook, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2002.11.14. Using Compact Flash to boot, save files, run silently, extend battery life, and as virtual memory on a PowerBook.
- The 10 worst Macs ever built, Remy Davison, Insanely Great Mac, 2001.08.06
- Macintosh PowerBook 5300 Series, Remy Davison, MacConsulting
- SCSI and FireWire Disk Modes, Paulo Rodrigues, Tangerine Fusion, 2000.11.29. How to use SCSI Disk Mode and FireWire Target Disk Mode for ultrafast file transfers.
- DV’s PowerBook 5300 Info Page. Includes tips on repairing the power connector on the PB 5300 and PB 190.
- PowerBook 5300 exposed, Charles W Moore, Road Warrior, Mac Opinion, 2000.09.05. The PowerBook 5300 gets fixed under Apple’s repair extension.
- PowerBook history, Adam Robert Guha, Apple Archive, 2000.05.12. A history of portable Macs from 1989 through 1996.
- PowerBook 5300c Internet performance analysis, Steve Martin.
- Replacement screen for a 5300, Julie Fugett, Mac Daniel, 2000.03.27
- Recovering a stolen PowerBook, The ‘Book Page. One user’s experience.
- Flaming PowerBooks, The PowerBook Zone
- PowerBooks email list
- PowerBook 5300 Revisited, Charles W Moore, Road Warrior, Mac Opinion, 1998.12.04
- Technical specifications for 5300/100, 5300c/100, 5300cs/100, and 5300ce/117, Apple Knowledge Base Archive
- From Apple Knowledge Base Archive Article 19358: There is a known issue with the password security feature on the PowerBook 5300 and 190 series computers. This issue is resolved by installing the System 7.5 Update 2.0 which includes the Password Security 1.0.3 control panel.
- PowerBooks with EDI hard drives do not provide SCSI termination power, depending on external SCSI devices to provide it. For more details, see SCSI Termination Power.
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