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A > APPLE  > MACINTOSH Portable   


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.
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While working at Prometheus Products in the late 1980s, I designed an internal 1200 bps modem for the Mac Portable. Apple made a machine available to us, along with detailed engineering documention, expressly for this purpose.

Monday 29th March 2021
Mark Davis (Portland, OR USA)

With all due respect, this article needs a deep fact check against the Macintosh product timeline and performance comparisons.
e.g. the Macintosh Portable was introduced and discontinued several years before the Macintosh II. I suspect that some of the comparisons are being confused with the PowerBook product family.

Monday 21st September 2015
Jeff Meyer (Silly-con Valey)

i found this laptop to be of the upmost quality and not only exceeding but also shattering all my preexisting presumptions! great buy! what a steal! i am a flaming homosexual

Monday 2nd December 2013
scott mccockmunchington


TYPE  Portable
YEAR  September 1989
KEYBOARD  Typewriter 80-key with numeric keypad
A trackball could replace the numeric keypad on left or right side.
CPU  68HC000, low-power version of the Motorola 68000
RAM  1 MB up to 9 MB of SRAM
ROM  256 KB
TEXT MODES  bitmap character fonts
GRAPHIC MODES  640 x 400 dots
COLORS  Monochrome
SOUND  8bit stereo output
SIZE / WEIGHT  38.8 (W) * 37.7 (D) * 10.3 (H) cm / 7.1 kg
I/O PORTS  Serial, Parallel, SCSI, 2xADB
BUILT IN MEDIA  1.44 MB floppy disk, optional 40 MB hard disk
OS  MAC 0S 6.0.4 to 7.5.5
POWER SUPPLY  6.5V 5A lead-acid battery
PRICE  $6,500

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