As Apple's first mobile Mac - the Macintosh Portable - celebrates its 20th birthday, we take apart the laptop to discover what's under the hood.

Apple made history on September 20 1989, when the company released the Macintosh Portable, the first true mobile Mac and a much-maligned machine.

It didn't sell well and is very rare today - not due to any particular design failure, but because the original price was a whopping $6,500 to $7,300 (£4,000 to £4,500) - that's $11,288 to $12,677 (£6,900 to £7,200) in today's prices.

It wasn't the only Mac to cost that much, but others in that price range offered top-of-the-line performance. The Portable was both too expensive and too underpowered to catch on. Its large size didn't help, either.

Apple vastly improved upon the design two years later with the PowerBook 100, the first true Mac laptop. For now, though, it's time to honour the design achievements of Apple's first battery-powered computer. I've found there's no better way to do that than take it apart on my trusty workbench

Livin' large

The Macintosh Portable sports the traditional clamshell case design we all know and love today, but the unit overall was far bulkier and heavier than later Mac laptops.

The Portable packed a 10in monochrome screen measured 15.25x14.8x4in when closed. Compare that to today's largest mobile Mac, the 17in MacBook Pro: the modern MacBook has a far larger (and vastly more colorful) screen, yet measures 15.47x10.51x0 .98in (Yep, the Portable is four times thicker than the MacBook Pro.)

The Mac Portable required Mac OS System 6.0.5 to run, but supported up to System 7.5.5. Interestingly, it was the first Macintosh to ship with Mac OS pre-installed on its hard drive (if you bought that option).

Call it 'The Wedge'

Here we see the Portable's right side. You can really get a feeling for the unit's wedge shape here. It's hard to miss the gaping slot for the 3.5in floppy disk drive on the side. Instead of a hard drive, customers could buy a second floppy drive that would sit directly above the first.

The Portable included a carrying handle, which came in handy due to the unit's weight. Here, we see it tucked between the display and keyboard area on the left side. It sticks out a bit because it also functions as the latch release that opens the lid once it's pushed in.

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NEXT PAGE: Prolific portitude

  1. We take the first mobile Mac apart
  2. Prolific portitude
  3. Expansion potential
  4. Beneath the bezel
  5. The 'ole switcheroo, part two
  6. Plastic autographs
  7. Liberating the drives
  8. The motherboard
  9. You've come a long way Apple