Joe's Motorola PowerStack computers

Created 1/21/2004

This is just a quick and dirty webpage to show off my Motorola PowerStack computers.

PowerPC Processor

The Power PC CPU was an attempt by Apple, IBM and Motorola to break Intel's dominance of the personal computer CPU market. In addition to jointly developing the Power PC CPU, each of the three manufacturers developed their own PC to use it. Apple developed the PowerMAC, IBM developed the RS/6000 and Motorola developed the PowerStack computers. The PowerStack is by far the rarest of the three. It appears that Motorola only marketed them to OEM customers. In additon to the lack of marketing to the personal computer market, they were too expensive for most individuals. The list price for a model 604 with 64Mb of memory and no monitor was $9279!! These two were surplussed by Martin Lockheed, the largest military aerospace contractor in the world. They could certainly afford them! Here is a link to a review of the PowerStack 604 by Byte magazine in 1995. Note that the PowerStack that they reviewed is a 604E/100. Mine are 604E/166s so mine are significantly faster.

My PowerStack

My two PowerStack computers are both model EX-604E-166. They use a 166 MHz PowerPC 604 CPU. They used only PCI expansion slots for the maximum possible bus speed. They use Fast SCSI-2 for the drives and external devices. They feature 4 built-in serial ports, parallel port, a "Control" port, an external SCSI-2 port, a 10 base-T ethernet port and PS-2 style keyboard and mouse ports. Picture of the back of the case. The video is not built in. One of mine has a Matrox Millenium PCI video card installed in the third slot. This card was one of the standard cards for these. It also has a FDDI interface card installed in the top of the expansion card rack. One of the odd features of the PowerStacks is that the floppy drive was optional and was mounted on a PCI expansion card. Both of mine have the floppy drives. The card is the second one from the top in the photo. It and the optional FDDI card can be seen in this photo. In this photo the expansion card rack is shown on the left, the hard drive and CD drive are in the center and the power supply is on the right. The PowerStacks were nicely constructed and could be entirely disassembled with no tools. The CD drive and hard drive both mount on propriatatry plug-in cards. The video and floppy drive are both mounted on PCI cards. The power supply is modular and removable as a self contained unit with no tools. It also has a large air filter on the RH side of the chassis. An audio system was also available for the PowerStacks. When present, it was mounted on the floppy drive card. I don't think either of mine have the audio feature.

Booting up

The PowerStacks used extensive ROM based configuration and diagnostics. They go through extensive self test when powered on as can be seen here. You can then bring up a main menu that allows access to more extensive diagnostics, a security screen with multiple security levels, a component display screen picture as well as numerous setup screens.

Operating Systems

Links of Interest

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