Dear 2014 MacBook Pro: Black Screen of Death means the end is near

It is December of 2020. I have a 6 year old Mac Book Pro that I got from a startup fire sale. It was configured with 8gb memory and 500Gb SSD so at birth it was a solid software development machine. It was lightly used when I got it. We re imaged it so got rid of any crud that might be affecting its performance. It then went to sea with me, and served well for writing, backup chart plotting, writing code, sending emails, doing zooms, and applying for jobs.

While I was in Colombia, it gave me the black screen of death for the first time. Just before it happened, the screen flashed that scary (I’m dying flash). So I did what any reasonable engineer in 2020 would do. I googled it and got a ton of hits.

When it first appeared some variation of reboots with OPT-R and/or SHIFT-POWER, hold for many seconds, eventually got the screen back. Strangely after acting this way for a while, the screen became stable. Roll forward one and a half years later, this screen glitch came back, and off course, it was just before some important Zoom video meetings.

Recalling the original problem I looked up the various NVRAM, reboot sequences, and tried them without luck. Then some combination of reboot and SHIFT-POWER waiting for 15 seconds got me the screen back, and then it was gone. It seems my screen or graphics controller is dead or dying. I had to either quickly buy a new Mac, or hack up a fix.

Being the enterprising person that I am, I tried various sequences until the video returned, while connected to an external monitor, I setup the screens to mirror, and as I did that bang! It was gone again. I rebooted one more time, then closed the laptop, and bingo, it booted on the external screen. I added a keyboard, a mouse, a webcam a USB bus adapter, and I now have a really small desktop box!

I’m afraid my laptop is no more. Operating it with its open face is probably a thing of the past. When I get a new Mac or have a free low risk window to experiment, I will open up the face and try and do the tips from “Tips 2 Fix” in youtube. For now, enjoy this picture of my new desktop! This is not a particularly pleasant result, but it will do for now.

My New Desktop

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