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Apple Macintosh Portable

"Do not trust a computer that you cannot lift."
Steve Jobs, 1984

Jef Raskin took this saying to heart as he designed what would become the Macintosh, an all in one computer, which could be easily moved. The final product weighed a little more than 16 pounds. In April of 1986, the Apple board decided to create a battery-powered BookMac. After Jobs left later in the year, the project continued, until the Macintosh Portable was released. The Macintosh Portable was Apple's first attempt at a true portable computer.

There are two versions, the original, and the later, backlit model. The Portable was the first Mac to ship with a preformatted hard drive (and the only portable Mac with a 3.5" hard drive) and a preinstalled operating system. Along with the Mac IIci, it was one of the first Macs to user surface mount technology. The Portable was upgraded with a backlit screen; more, less-expensive RAM (2-4 MB standard); and a lower price in February 1991. The Active Matrix screen didn't have the blurry display of conventional displays. In fact, the display was crispy clear, and looked beautiful when used in daylight. The Portable did have problems with dark rooms though, until a 1991 upgrade added backlighting.


The Portable featured a clamshell design with the same easy-access style of case that other Mac's of that time had. Pressing two places on the rear of the computer allowed the rear half of the case top to come off, revealing (from left to right) the battery compartment, expansion slots, and 40MB hard drive. There was only one problem with the Portable, which unfortunately led to its demise; it just wasn't portable. Weighing in at 12 lbs., few people had the patience to lug it around anywhere, despite all of its great features.

The Portable came with a Lead-acid gel/cell battery, similar to those found in car batteries, that could run a anywhere from 6 -12 hours! This is unheard of even today, as you it is hard to get even 2 hours of usage from today's PowerBook batteries. The Portable also included a 40 MB SCSI HD manufactured by Conner. The HD could spin down and sleep, but sacrificed price for performance, costing twice as much as a desktop HD of the same size. It supported to internal hard drives, and an external one.

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