back to article Got $10k to burn? Ultra-rare Piet Mondrian-esque Apple laptop is up for grabs on eBay

Another piece of Apple history has been put on the block, this time it's the turn of a weird - and in some eyes, possibly wonderful - limited edition of the PowerBook 170. Apple released a model of the laptop in 1992 to coincide with that year's JLPGA (Japanese Ladies Professional Golf Association) tournament. It was, to put …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

      Sorry, but it's a Fisher-Price work of art... just a bit too smooth to be lego...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

        Looks like something VTEC might sell, marketed at kids, "My First Computer" :-)

    2. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

      Clearly it's a toy, it's 30 years old. Surely you're not suggesting folk are buying 30 year old kit for every day computing purposes?

      And again clearly the designer was trying to be original. And to be fair one could argue they were successful. Also see VW's 1995 Polo Harlequin

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

        I'm using an IBM 5150 to make music - the Cakewalk sequencer on DOS, with a clone of Roland's MPU 401 interface. Not using it every day, but whenever I make music which is a couple of times a week.

        I find a lot of old machines and software allow me to get on with what I want to do, without overly complex and poorly thought out UI. Reliability isn't a major issue either - recapping and replacing hard drives with solid state upgrades.

        Thanks to the hobbyist scene mentioned in the article, there are some amazing forums and products our there.

        1. Dabooka Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

          I tried to be careful in my comment to make it clear I was referring to 'everyday' applications. I am certain you enjoy the experience of the older kit as much as the output, I know I do when using my old kit.

          And speaking of music (Cakewalk, that took me back. FruityLopps was another I vaguely recall?) my vinyl and analogue amp are 90s era and I still enjoy using those but I own a few Sonos and my CDs are also ripped to Flac on my NAS. Time and a place for everything.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

        It certainly is orginal. My friend had one, but with the boring grey plastic casing though. It was the first Mac I'd ever used. He brought it to me during the Superbowl, when we were students. I was drunk (it was 2am) and he was frantically finishing an essay - he'd hit print and not hit save first. Textbook error! It had got into some kind of loop of essay-death, where it wouldn't print or cancel the print job. I managed to fix it in the end and get back to the cheap cider I was probably drinking.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

        It'll run BSD, therefor I can run my businesses on it.

        Not that I would, mind. Not reliable enough, not even back then.

        Most business doesn't really require glitter, rainbows, moons, stars and my little pony.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: "It almost looks as though it was made of Lego"

      "Clearly some "designer" was trying to be "original"."

      This was addressed in TFA ...

      "arrived in the waning months of John Sculley's tenure as CEO of Apple."

  2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    Pass the crayons please

    It looks like something that someone from the coloured crayon department whipped up as a bit of a joke for their prepubescent sprog ..... and then their mangler saw it and decided to put it into production!

  3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Piet Mondrian-esque

    Mondrian didn't use much green... I'd have gone for Google-esque.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1) Buy a standard PowerBook for $300

    2) Splash it a la Jackson Pollock

    3) profit

  5. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    O je

    As someone who has a few old Macs lying around, I never saw the attraction of this machine. Give me a IIci over this anyday — a tenth of the price and much more usable, although it is not easy to set up in a coffeeshop. I suppose that it is an investment vehicle more than anything else.

    Anyway, the capacitors are beginning to blow now and the plastics are so brittle, that they are barely usable. Vintage tech from the late 1980s-early 1990s is starting to disintegrate now and unless you have a zeal to repair them, they just aren't worth the effort. Although I'm sure that many of the readers here are handy with a soldering iron, know what capacitors are and would simply ask, why wouldn't you want to repair it? Time to put the 3D-scanner and 3D-printer to use.

    However, If you do want a good Powerbook from that era and have that sort of money lying around, get yourself a 540c or 550c (with japanese keyboard), or better still a Wallstreet or Pismo. If you just want to play old Mac games or simply open up PageMaker again out of nostalgia, the emulators mini vMac, Basilisk II & Sheepshaver come well recommended.

    1. MatthewHughes

      Re: O je

      Oh, I adore my Pismo. I've got three (technically two Pismos and one Lombard, although both machines are fairly similar).

      You're right about the leaking capacitors leaking and the brittle plastics, but I think part of the fun of retrocomputing is actually fixing these products and making them usable again. It's the same mentality behind people who buy old bangers and nurse them back to health.

      Even if you don't fix them, I like the idea of retro computers as art. There are three iMac G3s in my office, and while I don't regularly use them (and one is pretty much entirely buggered -- dead flyback transformer), I do find they brighten up the place a bit.

      1. aje21

        Re: O je

        Worth remembering than an old banger, once nursed back to health, can do most of what you need a car to do... with retro computing you will still need some kind of modern-ish kit if you want to work / play.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: O je

      "Vintage tech from the late 1980s-early 1990s is starting to disintegrate now"

      I've had good luck with 1980s Sun kit, should anyone wish to dip their toes in the water of retro computing. Even the tape and floppy drives seem to mostly still work, if you take the time to earn how to properly clean them first.

  6. jake Silver badge

    Back of the envelope suggests ...

    ... that the thing has held it's value, when adjusting for inflation. Just.

  7. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Thumb Up

    I actually like this. If someone came out with a modern clone of it that ran Ubuntu, or maybe Free BSD, I'd probably splash out a couple of hundred Euros on one.

    Maybe that's just me though. I once enjoyed myself while listening to "Mr Blobby*", so clearly I have no taste...

    * in my defence, this was a very long time ago. I am considerably older, if no wiser, now.

  8. macjules Silver badge

    Typical Sculley "promo" computer

    Worth mentioning that the keyboard remained the awful grey because of the mixed Japanese-English keyboard. Also it has to have Japanese System 7.1 installed.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    'Dubai's largest private vintage Apple collection'

    OK,wait. This is from the largest private vintage Apple collection in Dubai. So there are presumably other private collections which are smaller ... and at least one public collection which is larger, as well as perhaps some which are smaller. How many vintage Apple collections are there in Dubai? And how many elsewhere in the world? Has it yet got to the point where there are now more examples of particularly rare models than ever were made?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: 'Dubai's largest private vintage Apple collection'

      "Has it yet got to the point where there are now more examples of particularly rare models than ever were made?"

      I suspect that more than one of the "original" Apple-1 boards that has sold for umpteen thousand currency units is a fake.

      Consider that I could easily make a reproduction that would fool "experts" for under US$1,000. It's not like the technology is a big secret or anything, and all the necessary parts are still readily available. I might not even have to leave the property to collect them. The Woz gave out the board design and parts list at a Homebrew Computing meeting in '76. Next, throw in a little unscrupulous silk screening of copyright notice, and Bob's yer Auntie.

      Before anyone says it, you can't tell from serial numbers ... thanks to bad record keeping, and a general lack of giving a shit about that kind of documentation back then, nobody knows for certain what the numbers were.

      Not that I would recommend doing such a thing, of course. But you've got to wonder every time one of these things turns up ... especially one in working condition.

      [0] Thus making it open source(!!) ... I still have my copy, I can't be alone in this.

  10. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Old computer advantages

    They don't run a lot of the modern privacy theft applications - I've got a few Vista laptops that I've been using for specific tasks and jobs for years now - they work great and don't get to hang up for 10-20 minutes while Windows 10 updates with new "user" features every month or two. Just turn them on and they work great. Sure, I wouldn't go browsing the Internet with them but for day to day use they are so much easier to use than Windows 10.

  11. m0th3r


    That thing looks almost 3D-printed, in the way it doens't look polished enough to have been made with a mold...

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    If I were going to get one of the antique PowerBooks, I'd go for the 190. It had a PCMCIA slot and actually had drivers for a few old WaveLAN cards and such so (if you can still find the card) you can actually get online with it wirelessly.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So just another piece if overpriced underperforming apple hardware

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021