The Mac Portable was Apple's first attempt to produce a portable version of a desktop Macintosh computer. The machine was partially engineered by Alan Kay (designer of the Dynabook), and was the first laptop computer with a GUI interface, along with Atari Stacy.
Apple launched the Mac Portable at the same time as the Mac IIci. This marketing tactic could be considered questionable given the fact that the IIci featured a 68030 processor running at 25 MHz while the Portable version offered a 68000 (in actual fact, a low-power 68HC000) running at 16 MHz.
This is likely the reason that Portable sales never reached the volume that Apple was hoping for; this despite the fact that the machine was twice as fast as a Mac SE and nearly as fast as a Mac II.
Despite its weight, the Mac Portable was well-designed. It featured an advanced active-matrix LCD screen, up to 9 MB of SRAM, a 1.44MB floppy disk drive and an optional 40MB 3.5-inch hard disk drive. Its lead-acid battery -- responsible for most of the machine's weight -- offered 8 to 10 hours of autonomy which was quite an achievement at that time.
18 months after the Portable was first launched, Apple replaced the LCD screen with a backlit version, replaced the SRAM chips with less expensive versions, and offered a lower retail price. The machine was eventually discontinued six months later, but the system icon made for this computer became the icon for all Mac portables for several years to come.
Note also that the Macintosh Portable was used in space, not without some problems... (see the video).
We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system,
please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
Mac Portables are becoming rare, especially in working order. They can still be found once in a while on eBay in "as is" condition for under $50, to which you will need to add another $50 or so to rebuild the battery (you can buy the lead-acid cells which go in the battery), and you will need to find whatever parts are missing (AC adapter, hard drive, etc.). There is a hobbyist who buys, fixes and sells Portables on eBay.You pay a premium, but you get a working system with software & carry case. My sense is that the prices have bottomed out, and will rise from here on, though I wouldn't invest my retirement savings in old Macs.
The first Mac laptops were not made by Apple, they were made in Boulder, CO by Outbound. The big drawback to the Outbound, and the Atari Spectre as well, is they needed a set of Mac Plus or SE ROMs to run, so you had to buy and gut a Mac. This added a lot of cost, but in the case of the Outbound, when at home the portable could dock with the ROM-less Mac and use it as a second display screen.
Thursday 7th September 2006
Henry (Pflugerville TX)
END OF PRODUCTION
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Typewriter 80-key with numeric keypad A trackball could replace the numeric keypad on left or right side.