November 11th, 2010 ~ by admin

Grampa Mac Portable, meet the baby MacBook Air

Apple recently released the new (or rather updated) Macbook Air.  21 years ago they released their first laptop, the Mac Portable.  It was not the success that Apple hoped, but the later PowerBook was. Mr. McCarron recently posted a pic of these side by side.

Mac Portable and Macbook Air

Needless to say in 21 years Apple was improved their laptops a fair amount. However there are some similarities.  The Macintosh Portable shipped with no physical hard drive (a 20 or 40mb one was available as an option). It had 256k of onboard ROM (truly solid state storage).  If you wanted more, you were stuck with floppies. Its RAM was handled by 1MB (expandable to 9MB) of SRAM, which was faster (then DRAM), and allowed an actual sleep mode. Technologizer did a tear down of one last year for its 20th anniversary which shows the guts rather well.


The CPU was a 16MHz CMOS version of the Motorola MC68000 (MC68HC000FN12F).  The 12F is an ‘uprated’ 12MHz CPU that would run at 16MHz.  Later Motorola released it as a standard part (the FN16 pictured here)  The chipset was provide by VLSI who would go on to make the first ARM CPUs for the Newton line with Apple.

Just a few quick comparisons.  The entire memory of the Mac Portable would fit in the L1/L2 cache of the CPU on a Macbook Air.  The battery for the portable? 2.7lbs, heavier then the entire Air.

Mac Portable Macbook Air (2010)
Processor 68HC000 @16MHz Core 2 Duo @ 1.6GHz
L1/L2 Cache 0/0 128K/3MB
Storage 256K (ROM) + Floppy 128GB SSD
Screen 10″ Monochrome 11.6″ Color
Weight 16lbs 2.3lbs


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Just For Fun

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