Big battery, small hard drive
The Portable was powered by a 5-watt lead acid battery that weighed 2.7 pounds (1.2kg) — heavier than a new 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which weighs in at 2.3 pounds (1.06 kg).
In a futher indication of how times have changed, you could buy 11 MacBook Airs for the price of one Portable, when prices are adjusted for inflation, and still have a decent chunk of change left over for the rest of your holiday shopping.
Battery life ranged from six to 10 hours, depending (obviously) on hard-disk usage and other factors. You could also set your drive to power itself down after a period of inactivity — a somewhat novel feature at the time.
Also, the system would drop from 16MHz to 1MHz after being idle for 15 seconds, then pop back to 16MHz when it sensed activity. Screen brightness, of course, wasn't a battery-life factor, seeing as how the original Portable didn't have a backlight — but when backlighting did appear in a later model, reports were that it cut battery life in half.
Shown next to an AA cell, the battery was 'Assembled in Mexico' during those pre-Foxconn years (click to enlarge)
One advantage of the Portable's battery, in those pre-lithium days, was that lead-acid batteries had no "memory effect" — which could not be said of their follow-on tech, nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries, which would "remember" the level at which they were last recharged, and "learn" not to hold a full charge if not properly drained.
One distinct disadvantage of the Portable's battery system, however, was that its battery was in line with its power supply. As a result, if the battery were fully drained, power couldn't get to the Portable's guts, and the damn thing wouldn't boot.
You could choose to configure your Macintosh Portable with one or two 1.44MB "SuperDrive" floppies, or one floppy and a 40MB Conner CP-3045 3.5-inch hard drive with a 28-millisecond access time. By way of contrast, you can now buy a MacBook with a 7200rpm 2.5-inch drive with an average seek time in the 12ms range and a capacity of 500GB.
We'll do the math for you: it'd take 12,500 Macintosh Portable hard drives to equal the storage space in that MacBook drive.
Next page: Display's the thing
You to place that on the genius bar and ask for help....
If you think SCSI was fussy and unreliable, I suggest you weren't working with the alternatives. SCSI was a breath of fresh air in a DIP-switch and twisted-cable infested, badly terminated hell of other mutually incompatible alternatives.
Of course, USB and Firewire are way, way better, but then they have the benefit of another couple of decades of development.
Happy days, they were....
"We haven't yet cracked open a MacBook Air yet, but when iFixit did, no such evidence of the design team was found. Personally, we miss this human touch."
Do 'SOS' messages carved with bloody fingernails by Foxconn workers/prisoners count?
Is there anything it can't do?
The 68000 range of CPU's
The CPU's weren't RISC but CISC.
They were very nice to program down to assembly level. I recall writing a boot loader for one in the early 90's . It had a nice regular instruction set and "just worked".