R.I.P. Macintosh PowerBook 3400c (1997-2017)

Powerbook3400

Wikipedia, Neale Monks

Yesterday my Apple Macintosh PowerBook 3400c died.

This happened just after I had loaded MacOS 8.6 on a 80x 2GB CompactFlash card I got off eBay. My hope was that a solid state boot drive would insure against future mechanical hard drive failures, something I often worry about with my vintage computers. In a cruel yet comical twist of faith, the very act that I hoped to preserve it seems to have killed it.

Mr. Murphy, you never fail to surprise!

This laptop served me well. In college, it was the first laptop I ever owned. Years later, its floppy drive and Ethernet allowed me to image and preserve my remaining vintage Macintosh floppy disks and transfer them into Basillisk II for posterity—later some of these same files would form the basis for my Retroweb Vintage Computer Museum.

With Ethernet, AppleTalk, a floppy drive, PCMCIA, CD-ROM and SCSI, the 3400c was a perfect bridge from the new to the old: with it as a gateway to my modern PC, I lend new life to my childhood Macintosh Plus, loading new-to-me software onto it from the Internet and even helping in the process of loading drivers for a SCSI Iomega Zip drive. The Mac Plus now outlives it and owes much to the 3400c that preceded it.

And so, PowerBook 3400c, with your many peripherals at your side, may you rest in pieces. You will be missed.

UPDATE: It was the AC power brick! With a replacement Apple “yo-yo” power supply from eBay, the Mac is now undead!

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