Apple mac book history & concept in great company


The first Mac Book was released in 2006, but it’s worth talking a little bit about the history of notebooks in general before diving in. As early as the 70’s, engineers were looking for ways to bring the power of a computer into a smaller, more portable form. Almost every computer engineer had their own approach, and some were more successful than others. One of the first portable computers was the Xerox Note Taker – it had a built-in monitor, floppy drive, keyboard, and mouse. Although there were only ten prototypes of the Note Taker ever made, its debut in the late 70’s influenced a whole new generation of transportable computers. 

One of the next most influential was the Osborne1 in 1981, which included bundled software, a modem port, and two floppy drives – coming in at a whopping $1795, that’s almost $5,000 today adjusted for inflation. The Osborne 1 is considered by many to bathe first real portable computer – and it helped create a demand among businesses for that type of machine. 

A few years later, the Grid Compass was released and introduced the “clam shell” design – which is still the standard notebook form factor used today. Now by the time Apple entered the portable computer market, there were already quite a few options on the market. 

In 1989 they released the Macintosh Portable, and then the PowerBook series in 1991. By the end of the 90’s, Apple had a pretty substantial amount of products on the market – but it was clear there was at least one niche that the company still hadn’t filled. At this time, Apple was adopting a two-by-two matrix product strategy. Basically, they wanted to offer four computer models, one desktop for consumers and one desktop for professionals, one notebook for consumers and one notebook for professionals. Up to this point, Apple had already filled three of the four categories, and the last computer model to be introduced was the consumer notebook. Finally, at the 1999 Macworld Conference and Expo, Steve Jobs announced the iBook, the direct predecessor to the MacBook. There had been rumors of its release for a while before the announcement, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone – but nonetheless, the iBook introduced some unique and pretty revolutionary features into the notebook market. First, the iBook was $1,599 – almost $1,000cheaper than the most affordable PowerBook at the time. 

This alone made it accessible to a much wider range of users, and its specs were just as good as a consumer desktop. The first iBook featured a PowerPC G3 CPU, and introduced the “Unified Logic Board Architecture” to Mac computers, which condensed its core features onto only two chips. Another major feature was integrated wireless networking, also known as Wi-Fi, and the iBook was the only mass produced computer at the time to have it. So the first iBook was a commercial success. It had a fun, colorful clamshell design with transparent plastic highlights, an integrated handle, and a lid that shut without a latch. The next generation of the iBook, however, came with changes that were met with mixed reviews. The first follow up to the iBook was the iBookG3 Snow. 

This model was lighter and less bulky, included an extra USB port, and had a higher resolution display, but it only came in white. And many users preferred the fun colors of the previous generation. The final iBook model, the G4, also only came in white, and included a PowerPC G4 chip instead of a G3. While the latter two models may have had some upgrades to their processing power, they were known to be less durable than the original iBook. Apple faced a lawsuit in 2008 for faulty memory slots in the G4, and there were widespread complaints about faulty lid latches. 

Despite these issues, which were pretty minoring the grand scheme of things, the iBook did well. It was extremely popular in schools, and, in some districts, an iBook was given to every student. But the iBook model didn’t last forever. In 2006, Apple was in the midst of a major transition from PowerPC to Intel. Apple was working on re-branding some products to reflect this change, and it wanted the “Mac” name in its new products. And so, the iBook became the MacBook. 

And at the Misword Expo in San Francisco that January, Steve Jobs announced the MacBook Pro – the first Intel-powered Apple notebook ever, which replaced the PowerBook G4. So, the first generation of MacBook was departure from the iBook in more than just its name. Besides the processor, the MacBook featured polycarbonate body that was thinner and lighter than its predecessor. It utilized the new Mag Safe power cable that attached and detached magnetically, a new glossy 13-inch display, sunken keyboard design, and magnetic latch. It improved on the iBook’s Wi-Fi networking abilities, offered Bluetooth 2.0, and included two USB ports instead of just one. 

It also came with a built-in I Sight camera that allowed for video recording and a sudden motion detector that would protect the hard drive if the notebook was dropped. But despite all its new features, the first MacBook had some problems. First, early models would shut down randomly due to a firmware issue, which Apple responded to with a firmware update. But then many MacBook’s would overheat and shut down because the graphics card and hard drive ran too hot. Eventually, Apple issued a recall of early MacBook models because of the issue. 

In 2008, Apple released the second generation MacBook. This model borrowed some design cues from the higher end MacBook Air, since the keyboard was backlit and it featured an aluminum uni body housing instead of polycarbonate. The trackpad was covered with glass and had multi-touch capabilities as well as an integrated click button, which meant this was officially the end of dedicated trackpad buttons. As far as technology inside the MacBook, the second generation offered some improvements over the first, but it still fell behind the higher-end MacBook Pro and Air models. 

Compared to the first MacBook, the second-generation brought a faster graphics chipset and more hard drive storage. But it also did away with the fire wire port which had been on almost every Apple notebook up to that point. And as you might expect, this caused quite a bit of backlash from the tech community since it made certain tasks like data transfers little more complicated. But most casual users didn’t miss the Fire Wire port since they never used it anyway. Now, at this point the MacBook was one of the most popular notebooks in the world. In 2008, it was the single best-selling model, beating out all other competitors including Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, ASUS, and HP. 

The MacBook’s success was in part due to the fact that it was still fairly affordable compared to its competition but offered a much more attractive design and user experience. The next generation of MacBook was released in 2009. And Apple decided to reintroduce the polycarbonate material but this time with a uni body design. It was rounder and thinner than the other models and it finally addressed one of the biggest cosmetic complaints the MacBook line had faced so far – greasy palm rests. All of the previous models of MacBook had received widespread criticism from users for how quickly the palm rests became faded, smeared, and covered in fingerprints. Apple responded to this issue by featuring fingerprint-resistant glossy palm rest that was easier to clean and resistant to fading. This model also included a rubber bottom to prevent slipping – but the rubber piece tended to peel off and ended up costing Apple quite a bit of money in free replacements. The company also faced a class-action lawsuit regarding MacBook power adapters during this period. The introduction of the Mag Safe power adapter was touted by Apple as a revolutionary safety feature – which it was – but they didn’t hold up well over time. Users complained about the durability of these adaptors, which could split and fray after a period of normal usage. Apple responded by not only redesigning the cables, but settling the lawsuit by issuing an adapter-replacement program for U.S. customers. 

And like previous updates, this model got some upgrades – and some downgrades. It still included an Intel Core Duo processor, 250 GB hard drive, two USB 2.0 ports, and I Sight camera. It had the same pricing as the last generation, starting at $999, and it was a bit lighter, at 4.7 lbs. And included upgraded Bluetooth2.1 capabilities. But unfortunately, it didn’t bring backfire Wire, which many people were hoping for – and Apple also eliminated its dedicated audio input. This wasn’t a very popular move, but other features like improved display brightness and viewing angle overshadowed the MacBook deficits. Now the biggest point of controversy with the third generation MacBook was its battery. 

The previous two generations had featured removable batteries that were estimated to last five hours. And this model had a battery with an estimated life of seven hours, which was a good improvement – but the battery was no longer removable. And this decision by Apple was met with many complaints since the claimed seven-hour battery life was thought to be an exaggeration when outlets like Macworld found that the MacBook’s battery only lasted four hours in their testing. Also, many people understood that this model marked the end of removable and replaceable batteries in Apple notebooks, which meant replacing your MacBook’s battery was about to get much more expensive and inconvenient. Now, in the early 2010’s the standard MacBook was losing popularity to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Because of its decline in popularity, Apple discontinued the line in 2011 for everyone except educators, and discontinued educator access in February 2012. For three years the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air were the only notebooks Apple offered – but in 2015, they reinvigorated the MacBook line with a completely new model. 

It was a big step up from the original MacBook, featuring a 12-inch Retina display, new butterfly keyboard mechanism, a USB-C port, an Intel Core M processor, a force touch trackpad, and Bluetooth 4.2. It also featured an unbelievably thin and light aluminum design, and it came in four colors; silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold. This was the first time Apple offered a notebook in different colors since the original iBook. In response to criticisms about the earlier model’s battery life, this MacBook model featured a terraced battery that squeezed in 35% more capacity than previous technology would’ve allowed. Resulting in a full 10 hours of battery life. But all of these new features came at a cost since this model had the highest price of any prior MacBook, starting at $1,299. Now the biggest problem this model faced had to do with its keyboard. It had extremely shallow key travel which meant typing took some getting used to, while some users never truly adjusted to it. 

But that was only the beginning. The new butterfly mechanism was fragile and could malfunction if too many crumbs or too much debris entered inside a key cap. And repairing the malfunctioning keyboard could cost up to $700. Eventually Apple faced a class-action lawsuit from users who claimed the company knew about the keyboard’s vulnerabilities before it was released, but chose to do nothing about it. The lawsuit is still ongoing and came to included MacBook Pro models that shared the same fragile keyboard mechanism. Now I want to talk about a controversy that has plagued almost all MacBook’s models, and it concerns the I Sight camera which has been the target of a serious vulnerability nicknamed I See You. 

The bug allowed hackers to remotely access users’ webcams without turning on the green LED light. This meant strangers could watch and record you whenever your notebook was on without your ever knowing it. The vulnerability came to public attention in 2013 after Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf received nude photos of herself in an extortion attempt. She discovered that the perpetrator, her high school classmate, used a Remote Administration Tool to hack into her MacBook’s I Sight camera. A similar tool was used on MacBook’s provided to students by a Pennsylvania school district in 2008 – which was initially meant to be an anti-theft protocol, but it ended up causing the school to inadvertently take over 56,000photos of high school students in the privacy of their own homes. So the MacBook has had quite an eventful past and its showing no signs of slowing down. 

Apple has given the MacBook two spec bumps over the past two years and we can expect a redesign in the near future. It’s already set a new standard for portability in the notebook computer market, but Apple never rests on their laurels and I’m excited what they have in store for the next generation. So that’s the history of the MacBook.

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