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MacBook Pro vs. Macintosh Portable, Apple’s First Laptop (From The 80s)

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Imagine being an Apple fan in the 1980s, back when the personal computer was relatively new. It was a time of simple needs. There was no internet, and VR was a pipe dream. Even serious gaming was left to those with deep pockets. So when Apple released its very first portable computer, the Macintosh Portable, you can probably imagine the storm that accompanied it. However, it’s now a quarter of a century old, so how would it compare to 2016’s top-spec MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro vs. Macintosh Portable

Now we realize that comparing the 2016 MacBook Pro to the very first Apple laptop is rather fruitless. After all, it’s obvious that processors, batteries, materials, and display technologies have drastically improved since 1989. However, this is just a little bit of fun, so let’s dig a little deep into what the differences are.


You may think that the 2016 15 inch MacBook Pro is expensive at between $1,999 and $2,799, but imagine having to pay around three times that amount 27 years ago! When it was launched in September 1989, the Macintosh Portable cost $7,400, which would amount to around $14,000 in today’s money.


Needless to say, A LOT has changed in 27 years in terms of design. In the 80s, Apple relied on plastics for the Macintosh, and if you view the images, you will see it is huge. In comparison, today Apple relies on metal and glass to produce a truly eye-catching design. However, the cream/white design of the older device is/was rather typical of the time.

Other differences can be seen with the keyboard; in the 80s, Apple chose to place the keyboard to the right and a primitive trackball to the left. This design did not provide a great user experience. In fact, in every design aspect, today’s top-spec 15 inch MacBook Pro, it is far superior to its great, great… grandfather!

Size and weight

Huge is the word we’d use to describe the first Apple laptop. When first released, it was the company’s first battery-powered machine able to be taken anywhere. However, people made fun of its size, suggesting that it severely stretched the definition of what it meant to be a laptop, and it is easy to see why at 4 inches thick and 16 pounds in weight, it was a juggernaut.

Today’s 15-inch MacBook Pro is wafer-thin at just 0.61 inches thick. As for its weight, you would need to add 12 more pounds to match the Macintosh.

macbook pro 2016 display compared
Image Source: YouTube


Again, there’s no comparison here, as coming from an age where LCD meant no color, the Macintosh Portable has a 9.8-inch display. Compare this to the 15.4-inch display found on this year’s top-spec model, and it is hardly worth comparing. However, to be thorough, the resolution of the now ancient piece of tech is 640×640, and today’s 15-inch model, in comparison, has an almost god-like 2880×1800 resolution.

CPU, RAM, and storage

However you choose to look at it, 27 years is a long time. However, where technology is concerned, you’d be forgiven if you thought a century had passed between them.

In the 80s the Macintosh wasn’t released with the best possible specifications, but they were comparable to what was commonly available at the time. Its CPU ran at 16MHz; it had 1MB of RAM and 40MB of storage. In comparison, the top-spec 15-inch MacBook Pro has an Intel i7 CPU running at 2.7GHz and 16MB of RAM, plus graphics assistance, thanks to the AMD Radeon Pro with its own 2GB of RAM. Finally, it has a huge (by comparison) 512GB SSD (solid state drive) for storing images and music, etc.

What about the software?

Then there’s software, which is a whole other issue, but the software back then was so limited. The majority of today’s programs that run on the Mac operating system have more functionality. Even mobile apps like iOS or Android are by comparison so far advanced that one single app can provide more usability.

Did you own, or have you used the pre-internet Mac? Share your opinions of this past quarter-of-a-century’s developments in personal computing.

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