PowerBook G3

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PowerBook G3
A "Pismo" PowerBook
A "Pismo" PowerBook
Developer Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.)
Type Laptop
Release date November 1997
Discontinued January 2001
CPU PowerPC G3, 233–500 MHz
Predecessor PowerBook 3400c
Successor PowerBook G4

The PowerBook G3 is a line of laptop Macintosh computers made by Apple Computer between 1997 and 2000. It was the first laptop to use the PowerPC G3 (PPC740/750) series of microprocessors. It was succeeded by the Titanium PowerBook G4 line in 2001, which used the PowerPC G4 (PPC74xx) series of microprocessors.

PowerBook G3 (Kanga)[edit]

The first Macintosh PowerBook G3, code-named "Kanga," was introduced in November 1997. At the time of its introduction, the PowerBook G3 was advertised as the fastest notebook computer available (a title formerly held by its predecessor, the 240 MHz PPC-603ev-based PowerBook 3400c). This model was based on the PowerBook 3400c, and was unofficially known as the PowerBook 3500. It used the same case as the 3400c, and a very similar motherboard. The motherboard was upclocked from 40 MHz to 50 MHz, resulting in some incompatibility with older 3400 RAM modules. Other changes to the motherboard included doubling the on-board RAM from 16 MB to 32 MB, and a faster version of the on-board Chips and Technologies graphics controller. The G3 made the Kanga more than twice as fast as a 3400c,[1] and the improved graphics controller allowed it to refresh the screen 74 percent faster.[2]

This first PowerBook G3 shipped with a 250 MHz G3 processor and a 12.1" TFT SVGA LCD. It is the only G3 system that is not officially compatible with Mac OS X (though various methods not sanctioned by Apple can be used to install OS X). The Kanga was on the market for less than 5 months, and is largely regarded as a stopgap system that allowed Apple to ship G3 PowerBooks sooner, while Apple prepared its more revolutionary PowerBook G3 Series. As a result, the Kanga has the dubious distinction of being Apple's fastest depreciating PowerBook. Nevertheless, many people chose to purchase a Kanga to continue using their interchangeable expansion bay modules, batteries, and other peripherals from the Powerbook 190, 5300 and 3400 models. The Kanga was also notably smaller in depth and width than the subsequent Wallstreet Powerbooks, and the Kanga remained the smallest-when-open G3 laptop until the debut of the Apple iBook some years later.

PowerBook G3 Series (Wallstreet Series I)[edit]

"Wallstreet" PowerBook G3

The second generation of PowerBook G3s, now called the PowerBook G3 Series, was introduced in March 1998. The machine was completely redesigned with a new case that was lighter and more rounded than the previous PowerBook G3; however, it was still an Old World ROM Macintosh. The new PowerBooks, code-named Wallstreet, came in three screen sizes: a 12" passive matrix LCD, a 13.3" TFT LCD, and a 14.1" TFT LCD. It also came in three CPU speeds: 233 MHz, 250 MHz, and 292 MHz. The 233 MHz model was sometimes nicknamed Mainstreet, as it lacked L2 cache, making it far slower than the other two in the lineup. The 250 MHz and 292 MHz models shipped with 1 MB of cache. Because of this large cache, as well as the swifter system bus, the Wallstreets were known to suffer from some heat issues. Many of the problems of the Wallstreet PowerBook G3s were fixed in the next revision, the Wallstreet II.

PowerBook G3 Series (Wallstreet Series II, AKA PDQ)[edit]

The Wallstreet design was updated on August 1998 (Wallstreet-II). It featured a 14.1" display on all models. Processor speeds were bumped on the faster two models, resulting in 233 MHz, 266 MHz, and 300 MHz models. The case contained two docking bays, one on each side. The left-hand bay could accommodate a battery, a 3.5" floppy disk, a third-party Iomega Zip drive, or a third-party add-on hard drive. The right-hand bay was larger and could accommodate any of the above plus a 5-1/4" optical drive (CD-ROM or DVD-ROM). A small internal nickel-cadmium battery allowed swapping of the main batteries while the computer "slept." With a battery in each bay, battery life was doubled. DVDs could be displayed with the use of a hardware decoder built into a CardBus (PCMCIA) card. The PowerBook G3 Series was Apple's first notebook offering that matched the build-to-order customization of the Power Mac G3 desktop line. Discontinued in May 1999, this would be the last Apple computer ever to bear the rainbow-colored Apple logo and the last Mac to support Apple's Superdrive. It was also the last Old World ROM model in the PowerBook series.

PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze Keyboard)[edit]

The third generation of PowerBook G3 (Lombard) was introduced in May 1999. It was much slimmer and lighter than its predecessor and was the first New World ROM PowerBook. It had longer battery life, and as with the Wallstreet II the user could double the duration to 10 hours by substituting a second battery for the optical drive in the expansion bay. The keyboard was also improved and now featured translucent bronze-tinted plastics, which is the origin of the "bronze keyboard" nickname. The Lombard was the second PowerBook (the Wallstreet being the first) to use industry-standard ATA optical drives. This change meant that CD and DVD recorders designed for wintel machines could more easily be used in this computer, often at a price far less than those manufactured by Apple.

Internal hard drives for the Pismo, Lombard, and Wallstreet II can be used interchangeably. The expansion bay drives (DVD, CD, floppy, battery) are interchangeable on the Pismo and Lombard, but not on the Wallstreet. A DVD drive was optional on the 333 MHz model and standard on the 400 MHz version. The 400 MHz model included a hardware MPEG-2 decoder for DVD playback, while the 333 MHz model was left without (except for the PC card one used by Wallstreet). Further DVD playback optimizations enabled both models to play back DVDs without use of hardware assistance. This model introduced USB ports to the PowerBook line while retaining SCSI support and eliminating ADB entirely (although the keyboard and touchpad still used an ADB interface internally). Graphics were provided by a Rage LT Pro chipset on the PCI bus, to drive its 14.1-inch LCD at a maximum resolution of 1024×768.

Mac OS 8.6–10.3.9 are supported by Apple, but 10.4 is not, although OS X will not install (except for 10.0) if both RAM slots are not occupied with identical size RAM. The use of XPostFacto 4 allows users to upgrade to Tiger, and it runs quite well for an unsupported machine. More RAM (up to 512 MB), a greater hard drive (up to 128 GB), and CPU upgrades (up to a 433 MHz G4) are available for these PowerBooks.

PowerBook G3 (FireWire, Pismo)[edit]

The fourth generation of PowerBook G3 (Pismo), was introduced in February 2000. It was code named "Pismo" after the City of Pismo Beach, California.

The original Pismo was rumored to be a latchless design, akin to the iBook, which is similar in specification. Apple settled on fitting the Pismo board into the form factor of the previous Lombard G3 PowerBook, but with many improvements. The Pismo was available at CPU speeds of 400 MHz or 500 MHz, with a front side bus speed of 100 MHz (one-third swifter than the Lombard's front side bus); it also implemented a unified motherboard architecture, and replaced SCSI with the newer FireWire interface (IEEE-1394). The PCI graphics used on the Lombard were updated to an AGP-connected Rage Mobility 128, though the video memory was kept at 8 MB, and the screen's resolution was the same as well. A 2× DVD-ROM drive became standard.[3] It was also the first PowerBook with AirPort networking as an official option (although it could be added to the earlier models via various third-party CardBus cards). The Pismo can be upgraded with additional RAM (officially 512 MB with then-available RAM, but it accepts 1 gigabyte) and a larger hard drive (up to 120 GB). Brighter screens and replacement batteries were also available.

The left expansion bay, like the Lombard, could only take a battery, but the right bay was able to accommodate a tray-loading or slot-loading Combo Drive or SuperDrive, a Zip 100 drive, a Zip 250 drive, an LS-120 SuperDisk drive, a VST floppy disk drive, a second hard drive (with adapter, which was tough to find), or a second battery. Lombard and Pismo accept the same expansion bay devices.

Versions of Mac OS from 9.0.2 through 10.4.11 are officially supported. For some time, G3 (750FX) CPU upgrades at speeds of up to 900 MHz and G4 (7410LE) upgrades up to 550 MHz were available. These upgrades are now out of production and must be purchased secondhand.

The Pismo PowerBook was the last of the G3 line. It was succeeded by the PowerBook G4 Titanium models.


Component PowerPC 750 "G3"
Model[4] November 1997 May 5–6, 1998 September 1, 1998 May 1999 February 2000
Codename "Kanga" "Mainstreet", "Wallstreet" "PDQ" "101", "Lombard" "Pismo"
Model identifier N/A PowerBook 1,1 PowerBook 3,1
Display 15-bit 800×600, 12.1" TFT 24-bit 800x600, 12.1" passive matrix or 1024x768 13.3/14.1" TFT 24-bit 1024×768, 14.1" TFT
Processor 250 MHz 233 MHz or 250 MHz or 292 MHz 233 MHz or 266 MHz 300 MHz 333 MHz or 400 MHz 400 MHz or 500 MHz
Memory 32 MB
Expandable to 160 MB
32 or 64 MB PC100 SDRAM
Expandable to 192 MB
32 or 64 MB PC100 SDRAM
Expandable to 192 MB (Apple) or 512 MB
64 MB of PC100 SDRAM
Expandable to 384 MB (Apple) or 512 MB
64 or 128 MB of PC100 SDRAM
Expandable to 512 MB
Graphics 2 MB of SGRAM ATI Rage LT with 2 MB or 4 MB of SGRAM ATI Rage Pro LT with 2 MB or 4 MB of SGRAM ATI Rage Pro LT with 8 MB of SDRAM ATI Rage Mobility 128 with 8 MB of SDRAM
Hard drive 5 GB 2–8 GB 4–6 GB 6–18 GB
Optical drive 20× CD-ROM 20× CD-ROM or 1x DVD-ROM 24× CD-ROM or 2x DVD-ROM 6× DVD-ROM
Connectivity 10BASE-T Ethernet
33.6k modem
10BASE-T Ethernet
56k modem
10/100BASE-T Ethernet
56k modem
Optional AirPort 802.11b
10/100BASE-T Ethernet
56k modem
Peripherals 1x ADB
1x Serial Geoport
2x PC Card II (1x PC Card III)
1x HDI-30 SCSI
Audio out mini-jack
2x USB 1.1
2x PC Card II (1x PC Card III) (333 MHz) or 1x PC Card II (400 MHz)
1x HDI-30 SCSI
Audio out mini-jack
2x USB 1.1
2x Firewire 400
1x PC Card I/II
Audio out mini-jack
Video out HDI-15 HDI-15 and S-Video VGA and S-Video
Battery 47-watt-hour removable lithium-ion 49-watt-hour removable lithium-ion (1 or 2) 50-watt-hour removable lithium-ion (1 or 2)
Maximum Operating System Mac OS 9.1
9.2.2 with OS9Helper[5] and Mac OS X Server 1.2
Mac OS X 10.2.8 "Jaguar", Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" with XPostFacto[6] Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X Server 1.2 Mac OS X 10.3.9 "Panther", Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" with XPostFacto[7] and Mac OS 9.2.2 Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" and Mac OS 9.2.2
Weight 7.5 lb (3.4 kg). 7.2, 7.6 or 7.8 lb (3.3, 3.4 or 3.5 kg). 7.8 lb (3.5 kg). 6.1 lb (2.8 kg).
Dimensions 2.4×11.5×9.5 in (6.1×29.2×24.1 cm) 2.0×12.7×10.4 in (5.1×32.3×26.4 cm) 1.7×12.7×10.4 in (4.3×32.3×26.4 cm)

The G3 in popular culture[edit]

  • Meg Ryan used the "Kanga" model in the film You've Got Mail (1998).
  • In the fifth season (1998–1999) of the sitcom NewsRadio, all computers on the show were replaced with Wallstreet PowerBook G3s, except for Beth's computer which was replaced with an iMac. The only exception is the episode "Meet Max Louis", in which Joe's faulty computer network causes Y2K to come two years early and many laptops (all early 1990s PCs) explode.
  • In the sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (6/1999), a woman at Austin's photo shoot is using a Powerbook G3 Lombard.
  • The G3 briefly appeared in the film House on Haunted Hill (10/1999) as the computer Price wrote the fake guest list on.
  • In the sequel Mission Impossible 2 (3/2000), Anthony Hopkins shows Ethan his mission on a Powerbook G3 Wallstreet.
  • In the film Disney's The Kid (7/2000), Bruce Willis's character has a Powerbook G3 Pismo when he is on the plane.
  • "Eyes Only," the underground journalist, uses a Wall Street (upside-down cover Apple logo) in the "Dark Angel" episode "C.R.E.A.M." (10/2000), set in 2019.
  • The G3 has also been featured in the film What Women Want (12/2000) as Nick Marshall's (Mel Gibson) personal laptop.
  • In the first and second seasons (September 22, 1999 – May 16, 2001) of the NBC political drama The West Wing, the PowerBook G3 could be seen atop White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler's desk.
  • A G3 PowerBook is shown on Chandler Bing's desk in the sitcom Friends Season 7 episode "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding" (May 17, 2001).
  • Langly is often seen using a Powerbook G3 in The Lone Gunmen series (March 4 – June 1, 2001).
  • In The Core (3/2003), at the end of the film The 'Rat' is using a Powerbook G3 to hack other people's laptops.
  • Additionally, the G3 was seen in the film Duplex (9/2003) as the laptop Alex Rose (Ben Stiller) used to write his novel.
  • In the film Saw (released January 19, 2004), when Dr. Lawrence Gordon is in his house, he uses a Powerbook G3. There is no Apple logo on the front but viewers can tell that it is a Powerbook G3 from its shape.
  • The PowerBook G3 was featured prominently on the hit series Sex and the City, where it was used by Carrie Bradshaw. The show's pilot first ran in June 1998, and in the episode "My Motherboard, My Self", Carrie identifies her PowerBook as her "98 laptop", but for most of the run (1998—February 22, 2004) a Lombard or Pismo was used, identifiable by the white Apple logo at the top of the screen.[8]
  • In the pilot episode of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother (September 19, 2005), Marshall can be seen using either a Lombard or Pismo.
  • In the film Night at the Museum (2006), Larry Daley uses a PowerBook G3 Wallstreet that ran Linux or Windows to learn more about history.
  • In earlier episodes of the TV drama series Charmed (1998–2006), Phoebe Halliwell is shown using a PowerBook G3.
  • In the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005), Ray is seen several times using a PowerBook G3 in his living room.
  • A G3 PowerBook (Lombard or Pismo) can be seen in some episodes of Stargate SG-1 (1997—March 13, 2007) in use by General Hammond, as well as a number of SGC personnel (including Samantha Carter). In almost every case, the Apple logo on the computer's screen lid is covered by a black patch, and no shots of the logos or names are ever shown. However, the G3 Bronze series case design is highly distinctive.
  • The G3 was also used on many episodes of the children's sitcom That's So Raven (2003–November 10, 2007)


External links[edit]

Preceded by
PowerBook 3400c
PowerBook G3
November 1997
Succeeded by
PowerBook G4