What is my problem? (PowerBook 145)


I returned home for Thanksgiving and my mother surprised me and presented me with my first computer from college a PowerBook 145; the only problem is that it doesn't work.

I would love to get this thing up and running again but it has some issues. I think the battery might be nuked because when the battery is in and the power cord is plugged in the computer won't turn or or do anything. But when I remove the battery with it plugged in the computer starts and makes that lovely Macintosh bong noise but after that nothing really happens. The screen lights up, the processor whirs, it might make a beep, but nothing ever appears on the screen.

If working properly it should boot up to the desktop without the battery plugged in I am assuming?

Are there any keyboard shortcuts during boot up to get the OS to boot into any certain modes (like holding down the option key for modern OS Macs)

Or keyboard shortcuts when it is running (perhaps to restart it) so I could see if the monitor is some how not displaying things properly?

I guess the hard drive could have died? Would that produce the same result? powering up but never booting up to anything?
Can it boot off of a floppy?

Or could the OS have just gotten corrupted or something and it needs to be re-installed?

Any suggestions or advice to get this antique up and running would be greatly appreciated.

The PowerBook 145 is a relic from 1993 (more or less).
If the battery is original (has an Apple icon on the battery) or even a replacement - it's likely that the PowerBook has been in a closet or box for years, and the battery is extremely unlikely to ever work.
Even the internal button battery - the PRAM battery - is likely completely dead, and might be preventing boot. Take the main battery out, and try a PRAM reset - hold Option-Apple-P and R - and press and release the power button (on the back corner if I recall correctly) If you hear the startup chime sound, keep holding those same 4 keys until your hear the chime two more times, then release the keys. If not much happens, press and hold the reset button on the back (I think it's a small rectangular button somewhere around the round ports on the back panel) for about 10 seconds, then try to start up again.
The hard drive is a SCSI drive, which might be OK, or might not even start turning.

Boot to a floppy? sure! Find a set of System 7 floppies. I think you can still download System 7.5.3 from the Apple service site...
scroll down to the 7.5.3 installers, it's a 19-disk set for making floppies.
You'll need another old Mac running OS 9 or older, with a built-in floppy drive to make the set of floppies. In some parts of the world, good luck even finding floppies to use for this.
Thank you for your response DeltaMac.

Good call. I totally forgot about the cmos battery or whatever apple called it, after 20 years it has to be dead.
I ordered a main laptop replacement battery just to have one, but I was able to open the old powerbook and extract the old motherboard cmos battery. Once extracted I found the model number ul2320 and ordered a replacement.

Time will tell if this is the solution.

I will keep you posted.
Do you have any idea if your PowerBook was actually working recently?

I wouldn't spend too much, if you can't get the video to turn on.
One thing to try - plug in your power adapter.
press and release the power button.
Make sure the brightness control is all the way up (that's the plastic slider below the display, I think...)
If the screen appears completely black, wait about a minute, then shine a bright light into the screen. Look around for any visual elements, like a flashing Mac face, or a big square (System 7.1, etc) or even a menubar at the top of the screen. Anything like that might be very dim, and difficult to see. Make sure that there's nothing visual there, and it's not just the backlight that's not working - which will be a challenging issue, too... but at least that will help you decide if it's worth rescuing...
This was my first macintosh that I purchased with an educational discount freshman year 1992. I used it regularly until 1996 when I moved over to a windows PC. Around that time it worked fine and was put into a drawer never to be used again. When I checked on it about 8 years ago the main battery wouldn't hold a charge and it was basically in its' current state (non-operable).

The screen's brightness does adjust and I have tried booting it up with it turned all the way up and all the way down. It doesn't appear to be getting any signal what so ever other than power and being backlight.
Ah, I misunderstood - so you know all about the history of your PowerBook....
15 years, without booting.

The service manual that I linked in post 5 might give you some pointers about what to try next.
I think that I would try disassembling as far as you want to go, and reseat every internal connector and card inside, including checking each connector for corrosion, dust, etc. Most connectors are designed to be self-cleaning, so a few disconnect/reconnect cycles should clean up the connectors.

Quite a project, eh?
I wasn't exactly clear where the PowerBook came from. I made it sound like my mom gave me a 20 year old broken computer as a gift. Ha.

Yes quite the project indeed. It is at a stand still right now because yesterday I un-soldered the ram battery out of one of the boards. So essentially all testing must wait until the replacement battery ($11) arrives. Hopefully I can get it back on the board with out any damage.


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