21 Years Ago, This Was “Portable” Computing

MacBook Air poses with Macintosh Portable
(Image courtesy of TUAW and Patrick McCarron via Flickr)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 21 years since the first Macintosh Portable entered the world — but as you can see from the image above, the times have certainly changed.

TUAW found a Flickr photo by Patrick McCarron that pretty much sums up 21 years of portable computing in one image: An 11.6-inch MacBook Air parked next to the original 1989 Macintosh Portable.

“My boss Clinton Logan over at MobileAge got a himself new 11″ MacBook Air and had to compare it against his 1989 Macintosh Portable,” McCarron writes on his Flickr page. “The screen sizes appear to be close to the same, but that’s about where the similarities end.”

Form factor aside, the biggest changes over the years seem to have come with storage and input — long gone is the floppy disk of the original Macintosh Portable (and the MacBook Air doesn’t come with any removable storage!), and the bulky trackball has been replaced by the sleek multitouch trackpad.

Of course, the Macintosh Portable had a lot less going on under the hood as well, as noted by Flicker user Yomatiase (sharing data from Apple-History.com). The behemoth was packing a Motorola MC68000 processor clocked at a mere 16MHz (?!) with 1MB of onboard RAM and a maximum of 8MB. Customers could choose between one or two 1.4MB SuperDrive floppy drives, with a 40MB hard drive optional.

So how much did all of that computing goodness cost you in September, 1989 when it launched? Compared to the Macintosh Portable’s sticker price of ,500, the current 11.6” MacBook Air’s entry price of 9 looks like a real bargain indeed.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


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