On walkabout in life and technology

1GHz Titanium PowerBook

It was about this time 10 years ago that I purchased my precious, a 1GHz Titanium Powerbook from a back street store in Akihabara (Electric Town) in Tokyo, Japan. I bought it based on a single viewing of another PowerBook because it ran UNIX with a GUI. Oh and it was thin and fast and beautiful.

It surely is the best device I ever owned.

I had been a Mac user in the early 1990’s, but, like most, I moved over to Windows for work. The Mac hardware had been falling behind, the operating system was sluggish, and the Dell/Microsoft combination was cheap and cheerful and necessary.

But by 2002, the Dells were just awful, plasticky and slow. And as a UNIX-head, Windows had driven me insane. I was running early Linux distributions on the Dell instead, dual booting for needed Office and other work applications. And I hated it.

And then I got this TIBook. OS X 10.2, and soon after 10.3. A lickable GUI. It ran Microsoft Office so I could work on it. I purchased all the Macromedia tools so I could create graphics and web sites on it. And it was UNIX. I could program on it, design on it, write on it, work on it and play on it. It was perfect, an all-in-one.

The 15" screen was crisp and bright, and still is 10 years later. The computer’s performance was (and still is) amazing, a 1GHz PowerPC was a killer back then, and I had loaded it up with 1GB of RAM which gave loads of overhead before swapping. The audio from the two speakers was excellent and not tinny at all. And maybe the best feature was the keyboard, well sized, properly laid out, springy, no rattles with great keycaps and press depth. This old keyboard is so much better than the newer “chicklet” keyboard on the MacBook Pro.

It was not all perfect. The IO ports were at the back and covered with a back flap. Not a problem really, unless you were using the ethernet plug. You had to rotate the entire laptop, open the flap to insert the cable. So far so good. But try, just try to get it out again. The top lock tab on the RJ45 plug was jammed into the socket as it should be, but could not be reached by normal human fingers because the display hinge was jutting out directly above it. You needed a pen to reach in and push the lock tab down to unplug.

This TIBook was in daily use for six and a half years. Very few laptops make it to three. And it kept on getting faster and better as Apple improved OS X up to 10.5 which I am running on it right now. And when I pulled it out of storage today, it booted up first time. The battery is toast, but the TIBook is still fast, still very useable, still the best. I am even writing this post on it.

What I find interesting is that you can see the evolutionary design of the modern MacBook Pro in this TIBook. The keyboard layout has not changed much, the power button, speakers and trackpad are all in the same place. Metallic color and black keyboards has become the norm for laptops. But the hinge and bezel has changed, as has the location of the CD and ports. Clearly though, the newer MacBook Pro is an evolution of this TIBook.

I enjoy the mid-2009 MacBook Pro that I now use daily, but I love this TIBook. It was far ahead of its time, both in hardware and software. To the Apple designers and engineers all those years ago who made this, I thank you.