Macintosh Portable

Gestalt ID: {{{Gestalt}}}
Code Name Esprit, Laguna, Malibu
Type {{{type}}}
Date released September 1989
Date discontinued October 1991
Processor Motorola 68000
Operating System System 6.0.4 - Mac OS 7.5.5
Price at release USD 6,500

The Macintosh Portable was Apple's first portable Macintosh.

Basic Introduction

The Macintosh Portable was Apple's first attempt at making a portable Mac. Released in 1989, it was received with excitement from most critics but with very poor sales to consumers.


Seemingly no expense was spared in the construction of the machine. It featured a black and white active-matrix LCD screen in a hinged cover that covered the keyboard when the machine was not in use. The mouse function was handled by a built-in trackball on the right hand side of the keyboard. Its memory was expensive SRAM in an effort to maximize battery life.

The machine was architecturally similar to a fast Macintosh SE, using a low power version of the 68HC000 running at 16 MHz. Weighing in at 16 pounds, due in large part to the sealed lead-acid batteries used, the machine was widely considered more of a "luggable" than a portable, and compared to the PowerBook 100 series introduced a few years later, lacked the ergonomic layout that set the trend for all future laptops. On the plus side, it had a full travel keyboard, and battery life was up to 10 hours. The Mac Portable had a standard 1.44 MB floppy disk drive, an optional internal hard disk (a low-power 3.5" drive from Connor was used), and also offered the first optional internal modem in a Macintosh.

In February 1991, Apple added a backlit screen, changed the SRAM memory to pseudo-SRAM, and lowered the price, but discontinued the model in October of the same year.

Memory, hard drive space

RAM: 1 MB, expandable to 9 MB, 8MB backlit version

Special Notes


Despite the machine's disappointing sales, it was a brave attempt at making a workable portable computer, at a time when it wasn't really obvious what form such a machine should take. It was also limited by the available battery technology of the day. The first truly modern portable computer was the PowerBook, but the Mac Portable was a significant step on the way, even if only to show what form such a machine shouldn't have. The Portable did not disappear completely with the release of the PowerBooks, however: the PowerBook 100 is in fact a Mac Portable compressed into a small enclosure. Apple sent the Portable plans to Sony, who miniaturised the components and manufactured the PowerBook 100 for Apple.



Sources and References

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