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).
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