PowerBook 550c

Blackbird was Apple’s code name for a line of PowerBooks based on Motorola’s 68LC040 and 68040 processors. (The LC version draws less power and has no FPU.) The PowerBook 550c was available only in Japan. Differences from the rest of the 500-series include use of regular 68040 (not the stripped down 68LC040), a 750 MB hard drive, and a larger screen.

PowerBook 550c (copyright raneko, used by permission)

The PowerBook 550c (image ©raneko)

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.

In 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.


  • code name: Blackbird
  • introduced 1995.05.30; discontinued
  • requires System 7.1.1 or later; highest version supported without a PPC upgrade is Mac OS 8.1.
  • CPU: 33 MHz 68040
  • FPU: part of CPU
  • ROM: 2 MB
  • RAM: 8 MB, expandable to 36 MB
  • VRAM: 512 KB
  • display: 10.4″ 640 x 480 77 ppi 8-bit color active matrix
  • 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
  • 750 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
  • SCSI ports: HDI30 connector on back of computer
  • proprietary modem slot; 040 PDS slot
  • Gestalt ID: 72
  • Size (HxWxD): 2.3″ x 11.5″ x 9.7″
  • Weight: 6.8 lb.
  • 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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