Feeds

The forgotten, fat generation of Mac Portables

Long before the Air, there was Lord Lard Ass

Business security measures using SSL

This Old Box One of Apple's oddest machines just turned 21, meaning that here in California we can now legally buy it a pint and raise a toast — if not to its success, at least to its good intentions.

Apple Macintosh Portable

The year was 1989, when Apple still had "Computer" in its name (click to enlarge)

No, we're not talking about the failed binocular-style QuickTake 100 digital camera or the "You can have it in any color you want as long as it's black" Macintosh TV. Our subject for today's discussion and dissection — yes, we take one apart — is the late, lamented, luggable Macintosh Portable.

Apple Macintosh Portable

Much-maligned by some, an object of techno-lust to others (click to enlarge)

The Portable was roundly criticized for being grossly obese. And it was. With one floppy drive and a hard drive — the most popular configuration — it weighed in at 15.8 pounds (7.2kg).

Today, the largest MacBook, the 17-incher, weighs well under half that at 6.6 pounds (2.99kg), and the 11.6-inch MacBook Air weighs a trifling 2.3 pounds (1.06kg). It would take nearly seven MacBook Airs to equal the heft of the Macintosh Portable.

Apple Macintosh Portable

This big boy could dominate a desktop (click to enlarge)

And it wasn't just weight that made the Portable stand out. The thing was just over four inches thick at the back of its wedge-shaped body (two inches in front, including the slide-out handle, which doubled as a latch for the tilt-up display), 15.25 inches wide, and 14.8 inches deep. That's about 10.3-by-38.7-by-37.7 centimeters.

Contrast the Portable's 225.7 square inches of required desk real estate with the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which takes up a mere 89.2 square inches, even with the Air's reasonably-sized keyboard — the Portable is over two and a half times more space-hogging than the Air.

Apple Macintosh Portable

The Portable was wedged-shaped, just like the now-chic MacBook Air — but (a lot) bigger (click to enlarge)

But let's not be too hard on the big guy. In other ways, it was a quite capable machine. It tried hard to please — perhaps too hard. But, unfortunately, it matched each advantage with a corresponding disadvantage. For example, its active-matrix display was advanced for its time and wonderfully crisp, but it also contributed to the Portable's high price.

Which was another knock on the Portable. When it was introduced in September 1989, it cost $6,500 — and if you added an Apple-suppled hard drive and modem, the price rose to $6,948.

Apple Macintosh Portable

One floppy or two? Your choice — our Portable has one (click to enlarge)

Remember, though, that personal computers of all types — and, yes, notably Macs — were far more expensive in those days. For example, when they were first introduced, the base models of the Mac II and IIfx cost $5,500 and $10,000, respectively.

However, those prices are actually higher than those numbers indicate — the dollar was worth more in those days. Today, the equivalent prices for those base models at their introductions would be $11,450 for the Mac Portable, $10,575 for the II, and $16,715 for the IIfx.

For a final total "OMG, the world has changed" moment of wonderment, remember that the Mac's predecessor, the Lisa, was introduced in 1983 at $9,995 — which would be $21,920 in today's dollars.

Apple Macintosh Portable

When the handle — here retracted — was pulled up for carrying, it locked the tilt-up display (click to enlarge)

One last note about the Portable's price. In its 1989 review of Apple's luggable, InfoWorld noted that "comparably equipped 286-based DOS portables such as the Toshiba T-1600 and the Compaq SLT/286 are set at around $5,000," and that "Many of the available 386-based portables easily exceed the $7,000 range."

Context is all, eh?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Next page: A plethora of ports

More from The Register

next story
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
DARPA-backed jetpack prototype built to make soldiers run faster
4 Minute Mile project hatched to speed up tired troops
Hey, Mac fanbois. HGST wants you drooling over its HUGE desktop RACK
What vast digital media repository could possibly need 64 TERABYTES?
Apple's Watch is basically electric perfume
It isn't just me-too Apple that's lost its lustre: Gadget mania is over
In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE
Rival electronic giant tries to iron out allegations
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.