The PowerBook G3 and G3 Series was a professional line of laptop Macintosh computers made by Apple. It was the first laptop to use the PowerPC G3 (PPC750) series of microprocessors.


The first Macintosh PowerBook G3 (codenamed "Kanga") was introduced on November 1997 as a successor to the PowerBook 3400. The Kanga had 32 MB of memory soldered to the motherboard, and had one upgrade slot, for a maximum of 160 MB of RAM.

This machine is not supported by Mac OS X, though some success has been had with the program XPostFacto, a program which may get Mac OS X running on unsupported systems.

PowerBook G3 Series


The second generation of PowerBook G3's, codenamed "Wallstreet," were introduced on March 1998 with a redesigned case which was lighter and more round. 233 MHz, 250 MHz and 292 MHz versions were made available with 12" passive matrix LCD, 13.3" TFT LCD or 14.1" TFT LCD screens. The Wallstreets had the usual HDI-30 SCSI connector, and were the last model to have an ADB port.

The case contained two docking bays, one on each side. The left hand bay could accommodate a battery, a floppy drive, a third-party Iomega Zip drive, an adapter for a second hard drive or a "blank" weight-saver module. The right hand bay was larger and could accommodate all of the above plus a CD-ROM drive, a DVD-ROM drive or a third-party SuperDrive. A small internal nickel-cadmium battery allowed swapping of the main batteries while the computer "slept." DVD's could be displayed with the use of a hardware decoder built into a CardBus (PCMCIA) card. It was the last PowerBook to feature the six-color Apple logo on it; later models used the new white one.

No Wallstreet or Wallstreet-II can run Mac OS X "Panther" or "Tiger," though XPostFacto has had success with these machines.


The original 233 MHz version of the Wallstreet did not have level-2 cache. That move crippled the performance and earned that model the nickname "Mainstreet." However, a simple processor upgrade will add L2 cache and transform it into a full-fledged Wallstreet. Fortunately, it was the last PowerBook to be without L2 cache.


The same design was updated on August 1998 ("Wallstreet-II") and now had a 14.1" display on all models. Processors were bumped up to 233MHz, 266MHz and 300MHz.


The third generation of PowerBook G3 ("Lombard") was introduced in May 1999 and was dramatically thinner and lighter than its predecessor. Apple calls it the "bronze keyboard" due to its keys being constructed of a translucent brown plastic (the mouse button was an opaque brown to match). The word "Series" was dropped from the official title and is just called "PowerBook G3."

The Lombard came in 333 MHz and 400 MHz versions, both with 14.1" TFT LCD screens. It shipped with 64 MB of RAM in the beginning; all Lombards can be upgraded to 512 MB. It shipped with Mac OS 8.6, and a battery could give five hours of power (ten hours with two batteries). It had an ATI Rage LT Pro video system, with 8 MB of dedicated video memory, which although more powerful than the Wallstreet's video, is not supported by Quartz Extreme.

Unlike the Wallstreets, the Lombard could only accept drives in its right bay; the left one is now for batteries only. In lieu of ADB, this was the first PowerBook to have USB 1.1 ports, though it did retain the HDI-30 SCSI connector (the last model to do so). It also had only one PCMCIA slot, compared to the Wallstreet's two.

DVD decoding required a PCMCIA decoder card on the 333 MHz model; the 400 MHz model had the decoder on the motherboard. It is a moot point now, though, since the decoders only worked under Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9. Apple DVD Player will not play DVD's under Mac OS X, but many Lombard users have found that other programs such as VLC will.

The Heathrow ATA controller is picky and tends to refuse to use any ATA/100 or ATA/133 hard drives, so anyone looking for an upgrade should be aware of this and use only ATA/66 hard drives or ones known to be Lombard/Pismo-compliant. The controller was not designed to handle hard drives larger than 137 GB (the maximum size with 32-bit LBA); while no laptop hard drive has reached that size yet, it should be kept in mind for the future.

Mac OS X "Panther" 10.3.9 was the last version of Mac OS X to run on this machine, although many people have had excellent success with the program XPostFacto.


The fourth and final generation of PowerBook G3 was introduced on February 2000 as the PowerBook G3 FireWire, though many people refer to it by its codename, "Pismo" (Polish for "scripture"). On the outside, it looked the same as the Lombard, as it had the bronze keyboard, 14.1" TFT LCD screen, lone PCMCIA slot and the same drive bays (the Lombard and Pismo could share expansion bay devices). On the inside, though, the Pismo proved to be the Lombard's successor.The G3 processor now rode on a 100 MHz front side bus and was offered in 400  MHz and 500 MHz flavors, and the Pismo could handle up to 1 GB of RAM, twice as much as the Lombard.

Powerbook g3 pismo

The Pismo edition of the Powerbook G3

The Lombard's SCSI port was replaced with two FireWire ports and a mini-PCI slot was added to the inside to allow for an internal AirPort card. This was the first PowerBook to support software decoding of DVD's without dedicated hardware (decoding that does work in Mac OS X, unlike the earlier decoders).

The Future of the PowerBook G3's

Currently, only the Pismo is still supported by Apple and is the only PowerBook G3 that can run Mac OS X Tiger without resorting to modifying the Mac OS X Install CD or using XPostFacto. While there are no processor upgrades for the Kanga, several companies such as Daystar and PowerLogix make G4 upgrade cards for the Wallstreet, Lombard and Pismo; these are a viable alternative considering the relatively flimsy PowerBook G4's or for anyone who just likes the black case and sleek curves of the PowerBook G3 series.

Sources and References

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