When Did the First Apple Laptop Come Out? [A Walk in the Past]

We people, at least our generation as much I know, are used to using “Apple laptop” and MacBook” interchangeably. But you know what? They should absolutely not be referred to as synonyms. The MacBook is just one branch of this tree (third family of Apple laptops) unveiled in 2006 and not the first Apple laptop, in fact.

The launch of the first Apple laptop computer dates very much back than that. Let’s have a look at the past.

When Did the First Apple Laptop Come Out?

Apple’s first-ever portable computer (the Macintosh Portable) came out in the year 1989. Though horridly heavy (i.e. weighed at around 16 pounds), Macintosh Portable is crowned the first laptop by Apple Inc. as this off-the-peg battery-powered machine, for the first time literally, compensated all the computer components in a single frame.

Mac Portable was unleashed with some ultra-advanced, according to then, features i.e. an active-matrix monitor, a removable/adjustable cursor-control device called trackpad, etc. But more than its modern features, Mac Portable stirred the market with its weight-equaling hefty and horrible price tag. It was priced at over $6000 at that time.

The Mac geeks although welcomed the first Apple laptop in a pretty disparaging way, Apple quickly recovered from the debacle. And the company, ever since then, has been producing cult classic laptops that are perfectly matchless to date.

Here’s a bit more about the history of Apple laptop computers.

The Three Big Families

Apple’s journey in the laptop computers industry sumps up in three phases: The PowerBook line of laptops, the iBook era, and the MacBook tyranny (still ruling the market).

The PowerBook Era

Though the market had already seen a portable computer “the Mac Portable” in 1989, the PowerBook is known as the first formal laptop computer line by Apple Inc. It remained in the market from 1991 to 2006.

The company embarked on and started ruling the portable computers market with the release of the PowerBook 100 series (first formal laptop stretch) in 1991. Here are some of the major events from the PowerBook laptops era by Apple:

  1. The PowerBook 100 series including PowerBook 100, 140, and 170 released in October 1991. The PowerBook 100 was a pretty low-end machine, whereas 140 and 170 were pretty up the scale, respectively.
  2. A series of comparatively very thin and lightweight laptops, the PowerBook Duo, was unleashed in 1992.
  3. In 1994, the market witnessed a much more powerful Motorola-microprocessor-based PowerBook 500 series of laptops code-named “Blackbird”. Also, PowerBook 500 marked the initiation of the trackpad technology for cursor control instead of older trackballs in its laptops.
  4. 1995 saw the launch of PowerPC-based laptops and PowerBook 5300 (alongside some newer models of PowerBook Duos) was the first laptop to take in the IBM PowerPC processor.
  5. In 1996 – 1997 came out the PowerBook 1400, 2400, and 3400 laptops and took over all their predecessors to become the best general-purpose PowerBooks ever.
  6. Then came out the PowerBook G3 in the year 1997 (late) – 1998.
  7. And finally, the world saw the departure from the ever-traditional plastic cases with the PowerBook Titanium G4 released in January 2001. It was the first series to feature metallic cases on its laptops.

The iBook Generation

The iBook family of Apple laptops has no such thick history and includes only a few new releases throughout. But iBook laptops are, perhaps, the most iconic and colorful devices ever created by Apple Inc.

This line of laptops was mainly targeted at entry-level consumer and education markets and came in with pretty controlled prices compared to PowerBooks. The iBook line of Apple laptops remained in the market from 1999 to somewhere 2005-2006.

The first release within the iBook line of laptops was iBook G3 “Clamshell” unleashed in 1999 with an unorthodox shape and extremely vibrant finish. Then came out the upgraded iBook G3 Dual USB “Snow” in 2001 featuring a more sensible form-factor and plus of features. All these versions took PowerPC G3 processing chips inside them.

And finally, came the iBook G4 in 2003 with a more stalwart PowerPC G4 chip and remained in the market till 2005 with some 4 odd updates during the whole timeline.

The MacBook Lineup of Laptops

The MacBook is the third family of Apple laptop computers formally taking the charge in 2006 and peerlessly prevailing the computer market ever since then. The MacBook lineup has two main branches i.e. the MacBook Air (started in 2008) and the MacBook Pro (started in 2006).

Here’s how this timeline goes:

  1. Apple launched its first MacBook Pro featuring lots of cutting-edge specs i.e. the MagSafe magnetic power connector, inbuilt iSight webcam, etc. in 2006. The laptop housed a new and powerful Intel Core CPU and delivered up to 4x the performance of its immediate PowerBook predecessor making it take over anything else in the market.
  2. Then came in an even sleeker and powerful MacBook Pro “Polycarbonate” as well in the same year i.e. 2006.
  3. In 2008, Apple released its first “MacBook Air” – the world’s thinnest notebook ever.
  4. 2008 was also the year to see the Unibody technology with Apple unleashing the first-ever MacBook “Unibody” later that year.
  5. And the world has, since then, witnessed Apple as a trendsetter for vogue and innovativeness with its extraordinarily crafted MacBook Airs and Pros until today.

Bottom Line

So that’s all about when did the first Apple laptop come out and how rich is the history of Apple Inc. in the laptop computers industry. What we know today as a symbol of class and style has definitely gone through a lot of ups and downs to reach this point.

The journey of the thinnest and super-advanced MacBook Air started from a 16-pounds-heavy Mac Portable. And the same rollercoaster rides did today’s super-powerful MacBook Pro also take.

You’re missing a whole lot of entertainment if you’ve not still read this article. Do scroll above and have a walk in the past.