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Macintosh PowerBook 170

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The PowerBook 170 was designed to be the high end model available at the time compared to the Macintosh PowerBook 140 and Macintosh PowerBook 100.

General Information

When it was released in October 1991, the PowerBook 170 was the premier PowerBook. The first PowerBook to include an active-matrix screen, the 170 also contained a slot for an optional internal modem, making it a truly mobile office computer. The PowerBook 170 sold for $4600 and was discontinued in October 1992, a year after its announcement.

Codenames: Road Warrior, Tim. Originally shipped with system software 7.0.1.


The PowerBook 170 uses the Motorola 68030 processor clocked at 25MHz. The 170 also comes with a math co-processor (FPU).


There is 2MB RAM onboard, and the unit shipped with 4MB total. The 170 supports a total capacity of 8MB memory.


ROM size is 1MB. AppleTalk version 56.0.2.

Video Repair

I've had several occasions to open PB170/180s, and it's quite easy for the Video cable (a ribbon cable) inside to be pulled out on reassembly - the top half of the case has to be 'hinged' from the front of the machine, downward, while this raises the back, and induces tension in the ribbon cable. The wires also carry trackball/keyboard ADB info. You may need to push the connector back in. If the machine has been installed after manufacture with the 8Megs, and the Global Village hardware, chances are that other stuff got loosened too - maybe the HD power cable if the tech wasn't careful.

Opening the bigger PBs isn't too problematic, provided you have an antistatic surface and wristband to work with, and I think a T7 and T9 Torx screwdriver.

Remove the battery to begin with;

There are 5 screws in the case - a single T7 beneath the 'flap' at the rear of the machine (where ports are at); 4 x T9 screws in the case below.

Once these are removed, and the machine placed with the LCD display down, in the position you would normally type at, the top half of the case can be gently removed. You will probably have to be persistent here, because it's quite stiff; the rear edge will normally release OK, but there are little 'tabs' on the front edge that can only be disengaged by your teasing the front edge backward. It will release in time.

Now, you'll find the top case can pivot backward and you'll see the ribbon cable that is the video connector. It may need to be pushed firmly back into place. (though of course it may not be clear whether it was loose originally or due to the current disassembly!)

You could now either reassemble the Mac, or investigate further. If the latter, the whole top part of the case including the LCD display can be put to one side if you ease the video connector straight upward (there are not clips to hold it in, part of the problem really!). There's nothing related to the Motherboard or HD on this top section. Checkout the other connectors you can see, and make sure they're tight. (of course how far you're prepared to investigate is entirely up to you.)

Reassembly is the reverse of the above. It helps if you 'balance' the rear of the top part of the case on the row of ports at the back of the Mac (resting in particular on top of the SCSI connector) with the top case at about 45deg to the horizontal, as this will give you enough slack to plug the video connector back in. Then 'pivot' the lid downward, and slightly raise the rear edge (without yanking the cable free) to let you drop the front edge into its groove, where the tabs will hold it in place. Then drop the rear down again, and push it slightly - there will be a little resistance, but will click gently on the left hand side.

Shove the screws back in the lower case, then behind the flap. Replace the battery (your PRAM will be reset now, so checkout your Control Panels to restore values).

See Also

The Macintosh PowerBook Series from Apple Computer
Macintosh PowerBook 100 -- Macintosh PowerBook 140 -- Macintosh PowerBook 145 -- Macintosh PowerBook 150 -- Macintosh PowerBook 160 -- Macintosh PowerBook 165 -- Macintosh PowerBook 165c -- Macintosh PowerBook 170 -- Macintosh PowerBook 180 -- Macintosh PowerBook 180c -- Macintosh PowerBook 190 -- Macintosh PowerBook 190cs -- Macintosh PowerBook 520 -- Macintosh PowerBook 520c -- Macintosh PowerBook 540 -- Macintosh PowerBook 540c -- Macintosh PowerBook 550c -- Macintosh PowerBook 5300 -- Macintosh PowerBook 1400 -- Macintosh PowerBook 2400c -- Macintosh PowerBook 3400c -- Macintosh PowerBook G3