PowerBook 540

Blackbird was Apple’s code name for a new line of PowerBooks based on the 68LC040 processor. (The LC version of the 68040 draws less power and has no FPU.) The 500 series included several firsts: the first portable with a trackpad, the first with a PCMCIA (later PC Card) slot, the first with stereo speakers, the first with built-in ethernet, the first with an “intelligent” NiMH battery, the first with an expansion bay, and the first to automatically go to sleep when the lid was shut.

PowerBook 500 seriesIn the field, users raved about the dual battery slots, allowing up to 4 hours from a charged pair of batteries.

These PowerBooks also introduced a full-sized keyboard (with 12 function keys), had a 640 x 480 screen, and were designed so they could be upgraded with a PowerPC processor.

The 540 has a 6-bit active matrix grayscale display. The 540 and 540c came standard with a Global Village 19.2 kbps data/14.4 kbps fax modem.


  • code name: Blackbird
  • introduced 1994.05.16 at $3,160; discontinued 1994.10.17
  • requires System 7.1.1 or later; highest version supported without a PPC upgrade is Mac OS 8.1.
  • CPU: 33 MHz 68LC040 CPU
  • FPU: none
  • CPU performance: 1.17, Speedometer 4.02 (Quadra 605 = 1.0), see our benchmark page
  • FPU performance: 5.60, Speedometer 4.02 (Quadra 605 = 1.0), see our benchmark page
  • ROM: 2 MB
  • RAM: 4 MB, expandable to 36 MB using a special 100ns pseudostatic RAM card
  • VRAM: 512 KB
  • display: 9.5″ 640 x 480 84 ppi 6-bit active matrix grayscale
  • video: 512 KB VRAM, VID-14 port, supports 8-bit external video at 512 x 384, 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 832 x 624 with video adapter
  • 240 MB SCSI hard drive standard
  • ADB ports: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
  • serial ports: 1 DIN-8 RS-422 port on back of computer
  • Ethernet: AAUI connector, requires adapter
  • SCSI ports: HDI30 connector on back of computer
  • proprietary modem slot
  • Gestalt ID: 72
  • Size (HxWxD): 2.3″ x 11.5″ x 9.7″
  • Weight: 7.1 lb. with both batteries, 6.4 lb. with one battery
  • power supply: M1893 or M1910

CPU Upgrades

  • Apple 100 MHz 603e PowerPC Upgrade (M3081LL/A), 8 MB RAM
  • NewerTech NUpowr 500/183c 603e upgrade w/128K level 2 cache
  • NewerTech NUpowr 500/167 603e upgrade
  • Sonnet Technologies PowerPC 100 MHz 603e upgrade, 8 MB RAM

Online Resources


  • Batteries are prohibitively expensive, usually well over US$100 each – and the computer uses two. Condition your batteries regularly; don’t let them run down and die.
  • The 100-series and 500-series PowerBooks 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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