Vaporware - Power Computing Prototypes

For starters, its best to define vaporware. Quite frankly, vaporware is any announced product or technology that never makes it to market. Their are tons of items that fit into the vaporware cloud over the computer industry. The examples this week stem from Power Computing, the first licensed clone maker. They weren't really that secretive with their plans and made a few empty promises...

PowerTowerPro G3 275
If you subscribed to any sort of Mac magazine near the end of the cloning era, you probably have an advertisement for this piece of vaporware. Take the standard PowerTowerPro motherboard, tweak it a bit, and add a G3 275 Mhz card with 275 Mhz, 1:1 back side cache to get the PowerTowerPro G3. This was the company's quick and dirty way to capture the speed crown and get G3 systems out before anyone else. It would have succeeded if Apple didn't purchase PowerComputing, out right.

PowerComputing Laptop
This machine was only mentioned briefly during the cloning era as an example of how difficult it was to work with Apple. No pics, no specs, just that PowerComputing has designed one in an obscure MacWorld article. Apple never licensed core Powerbook software as they wanted to be the exclusive player in the notebook field and forbid PowerComputing to release its note book.

PowerComputing 60 Mhz bus Tsunami
All the high end Macs during the cloning era used the motherboard design called Tsunami. The machines that used it included the PM 9500, PM 9600, Umax S900, and the PowerTowerPro line. The basic design featured up to 12 RAM slots, 6 PCI slots and had a maximum bus speed of 50 Mhz. To further increase the performance of the PowerTowerPro line, engineers looked at increasing its bus speed. Going from 50 Mhz to 60 Mhz was a minor jump in bus speed but was a big enough deal for Apple not to certify that motherboard.

PowerComputing 603e/300
A mystery machine with a 603e processor running at 300 Mhz has plenty of relatives but remained buried in the closet. The Catalyst motherboard design had a 60 Mhz bus which this prototype used. The system tested by MacWorld simply mutated into the PowerCenterPro line featuring the 604e processor running at lower clock speeds. In comparison, the lowend PowerBase systems had 603e processors but used a rather slow 40 Mhz bus speed.

PowerWave Nubus/PCI hybrid 'Stargate'
Apple never planned on a smooth transition from Nubus to PCI. The first licensed clone maker had a system with both types of slots to help protect the investment in expensive Nubus cards. The key was the PowerWave series of machine. On these systems, the expansion slot are not found directly on the motherboard, but on a riser card. Standard was the 3 PCI riser card the 2 Nubus/2 PCI riser card being a $249 option. The hybrid suffered a few initial delay before being forgotten. The market was just to small and the engineering difficulties kept this piece of hardware out of public reach.

Content Type: 
Computer Type: 


The PowerWave Nubus/PCI adapter Stargate was real & useful:
Real as in I used one successfully in my PowerWave 150 w/ a Digidesign Audiomedia II Nubus card and an ATI Rage II video PCI card.
Useful as in I wasn't about to "discard" a $1000 audio card just to step up to the awesome power of the PPC !
The Stargate was a big factor in my Power Computing purchase. (Damn I miss Power Computing Corp.)

Please see Nubus Mafia / Power Computing for images - Enjoy the blurry.

BDub's picture

As long as this articles up, I should mention it was originally published by "Kevin_G" but that info didn't get carried over when we moved to the current CMS.

I have a Stargate as well. It clearly exists. However, I've been (unsuccessfully) trying to get it to work with an old Micron CAMAC crate controller on some legacy equipment (yeah, and then update it to OSX 10.4...) I'm wondering just how an old nubus card is supposed to work in the PCI bridge. Do I need to have a PCI driver for the nubus card? Or am I supposed to rely on imperfect 68k emulation of the original code?

Apple's (PC's) white papers are somewhat sparing on the details.