Apple Macintosh Portable (backlit, 1991)

Apple Macintosh Portable

This is the Portable with a backlit LCD screen (model M1526), a revision of the first version (1989 model M5120) that was unusable in low light situations. I bought it from the U.S. in 2000 – at that time it was just an obsolete Mac, and the price was quite low.

I turned it on once in a while, but the last few times it didn’t boot at the first attempt, then it didn’t start up at all. I opened it up to take a look, and as I imagined all the capacitors had to be replaced.

I ordered the capacitors online: most of them are SMD, built to be soldered by machines, and they’re hard to find in the few local shops of electronic components.

This is what the motherboard looked like after unsoldering the dead capacitors:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Capacitors (before)

Then I cleaned the pcb and soldered the new capacitors:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Capacitors (after)

Here’s the motherboard:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Motherboard

This is the CPU, a 16MHz Motorola 68000:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Motorola 68000

Some Macintosh models had the signatures of the people that engineered the computer molded on the case; the Portable is one of those, and the lower case has many signatures:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Signatures

The computer can be taken apart without unscrewing a screw: all the pieces are kept together by plastic hooks. Sadly, after many years, the plastic becomes very fragile and it’s hard not to break the smaller hooks. Here is an exploded view of the Macintosh Portable:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Exploded view

There are two optional cards: a modem and a memory expansion.

A detail of the trackball:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Trackball

For the left handed, it was possible to swap the position of the keyboard and the trackball; you could even mount a numeric keyboard in place of the trackball. In that case you had to carry a mouse too, but with the computer itself weighing 7Kg (16 pounds), a few more grams weren’t such a big deal.


The ports on the back are the same as the ones on the desktop models of the time (floppy, SCSI, ADB, serials, audio), except for the video out connector that looks like a VGA but is a digital output instead: Apple promised an adaptor that they never produced, saying that third parties already made one.

Apple Macintosh Portable - Back

The handle for carrying the computer is used to unlock the monitor when it’s closed on the computer.

Apple Macintosh Portable - Closed

Even closed, it’s quite bulky:

Apple Macintosh Portable - Side

One last picture of this Mac:

Apple Macintosh Portable

These are the manuals that came with the computer: Macintosh Portable Owner’s Guide, Macintosh Utilities User’s Guide, Macintosh Portable Handbook, and a couple of leaflets that contain welcome and getting started floppy disks.

Apple Macintosh Portable - Manuals

Apple offered an official case for the Portable, and in the following pictures you can see it along with the instructions and accessories.

Apple Macintosh Portable - Case


Apple Macintosh Portable - Case accessories

Further reading


One thought on “Apple Macintosh Portable (backlit, 1991)

  1. Michael D Mullett

    I got My First Macintosh Portable and it was not Backlit and Did Not Work, I thought about trying to take it apart and recap but I did not have any of the Equipment Needed to do this So i came across another one at a good price fully working and Backlit, and I got an RAM Upgrade Card Putting it at 9MB, so It has been Really Fun and Just such a Joy to Get to Know this Early Mac Laptop, I have After Dark with Star Trek on it, and Norton Utilities, I must say Here that Norton Back Then Worked Like a Charm, now I am In the Process of Selling My Other Portable as is and Look Forwards to Many Years With My New Joy!


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