Apple Laptops: A Chronological Guide to the Most Popular Models

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Apple Laptops: A Chronological Guide to the Most Popular Models

Apple has been producing laptops for decades, from as early as 1989. The original Apple Powerbook, a computer from the product line that was manufactured from 1991 through 2006, is considered to be the first modern notebook. Computing technology has evolved rapidly since 1989, and so have the Apple laptops. The models have generally become lighter and more portable and probably also less expensive.

Throughout the years, Apple has produced both successful and not-so-successful models. The popular ones have always been innovative, and are therefore worth mentioning and studying, as their features may still be present, in some form,  in modern models. In any case, the earlier models have shaped the ones available today. Apple laptops are available from high street electronics shops that deal with Apple computers, but they can also be bought from the comfort of one's home, through online auction sites such as eBay.

Macintosh Portable

The very first Apple laptop, the Macintosh Portable that was introduced in 1989, was in fact not a lightweight computer. The Macintosh Portable was quite hefty, at 7 kg. Its LCD screen was black and white and it was designed to be closed over the keyboard when not in use. A trackball mouse and a full-sized keyboard were included. Although the laptop provided about 10 hours of battery life, its sales numbers remained relatively low.

The PowerBook Product Line

Apple produced and sold the Powerbook product line from 1991 to 2006. Therefore, most of the Apple models are from the Powerbook series. The Powerbook changed drastically over the years, and it is notable because it often had features that later became standard for other laptop brands as well. The PowerBook product line was aimed at professionals, and thus these laptops have advanced features incorporated.

Macintosh PowerBook 100

The Macintosh PowerBook 100 was released in 1991. This model was notable because it was the first one that had the keyboard located close to the display. Now a standard, but an innovation back then, this design allowed users to place their palms at the bottom of the device. The trackball was also positioned there. The Macintosh PowerBook 100 was probably the first Apple laptop that was actually genuinely portable. Its processor was basically the same as in the Macintosh Portable, and this meant that the model was still relatively slow. The model lacked an internal floppy drive.

Macintosh PowerBook Duo

The Macintosh PowerBook Duo was a small notebook that was first introduced in 1992. Compared to the traditional PowerBook notebooks, the PowerBook Duo was more compact and easier to take anywhere. The PowerBook Duo weighed about 1.9 kg and measured 28 cm by 22 cm, being slightly smaller than a standard sheet of typing paper. As a result, the keyboard was also smaller, about 88 per cent of a full-sized keyboard. The smaller keyboard has often been criticised on the grounds that it is hard to type on. Only a port for a modem or printer was included in its design. The PowerBook Duo notebooks were produced until 1997, with seven models available.

Macintosh PowerBook 190

The Macintosh PowerBook 190 was around for less than a year, from August 1995 until June 1996. This model was a step ahead because it featured an expansion slot for third-party drives, as well as two PC card slots. Users had the freedom to configure it by adding an external monitor, an optional video port, and an optional infrared transceiver. The PowerBook 190 weighed about 2.7 kg and came with a passive matrix greyscale screen that measured 9.5 inches in diameter.

Macintosh PowerBook 5300

The Macintosh PowerBook 5300 is widely known as the worst Apple laptop ever produced. The product was released in 1995 and was soon recalled because many users had problems with exploding batteries. However, it was also the first PowerPC PowerBook that offered high performance, thanks to a powerful processor. This model also included a receiver for wireless networking.

Macintosh PowerBook G3

The Macintosh PowerBook G3, released in 1997, was the first Apple laptop to use the third generation IBM/Motorola processor PPC 750. This processor was able to use an extra cache, which interacted with the processor at much faster speeds than the standard L2 cache. At its peak, the PowerBook G3 was the fastest notebook in the world. Thanks to its sleek design, the Macintosh PowerBook G3 was also pleasant to look at.

Titanium PowerBook G4

Over time, Apple laptops became faster. The Titanium PowerBook G4, introduced in 2001, was a fast notebook that offered high performance. The laptop came with a widescreen display as well as titanium skin. Compared to its contemporaries, the Titanium PowerBook G4 boasted long battery life and light weight. The PowerBook G4 was also available as a Gigabit Ethernet version, which was even faster than the original model. The Titanium PowerBook G4 weighed 2.4 kg.

Aluminium PowerBook G4

The Aluminium PowerBook G4 was a step forward from the Titanium PowerBook G4, this time with an aluminium casing. This model was released in 2003 and had a screen size of up to 17 inches. The laptop came with a capacious hard drive, enough power for music and video editing, and DVD-burning capability. The line was discontinued in 2006 when Apple changed over to Intel processors.

The iBook Product Line

The iBook product line was manufactured from 1999 to 2006. While the PowerBook was aimed at professionals, the iBook was designed for wider consumption, as it was targeted at the educational and general consumer market. Therefore, these laptops had lower prices as well as less impressive specifications.

iBook G3

The iBook G3, also known as the Clamshell because of its shape, was introduced in 1999. This model came with built-in wireless networking and was known for its bright colours. In order to ensure a low price, the iBook G3 lacked many ports, although it did feature an advanced graphics card. The iBook G3 was also the first Apple laptop to use the Unified Motherboard Architecture (UMA), which standardised motherboard components across the product lines. An unusual feature of the iBook G3 was the handle, which allowed users to carry it with ease.

iBook G4

The iBook G4 was released in 2003, and it marked the transition from the G3 to the G4 processor. The model was available in three configurations, with screen sizes of 12.1 inches and 14.1 inches. This laptop supported Bluetooth and included a slot-loading optical drive to be used instead of a disc tray.

MacBook Pro and MacBook Product Lines

In 2006, the MacBook Pro and the MacBook product lines became popular and replaced the PowerBook. These product lines are probably the most notable ones ever released by Apple. These Apple laptops came with high-performance Intel processors. The MacBook was aimed at the educational and general consumer market, while the MacBook Pro product line was designed for professional use.


The MacBook product line replaced the iBook. The first MacBook announced in 2006 came with features that previously were present only in professional Apple laptops: a DVI port for monitor-spanning, optical audio input/output, and Gigabit Ethernet. Equipped with a dual-core Intel processor, the MacBook was fast and its RAM was upgradable for even better performance. The MacBook weighed 2.4 kg. Different versions with different specifications were soon introduced as well.

MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro product line replaced the PowerBook laptops. This model was the first portable Apple laptop to use an Intel processor. Compared to the PowerBook models, the MacBook Pro had a remote control, a built-in camera, a larger screen, and improved wireless reception. However, it lacked S-video, modem, and FireWire ports.

MacBook Air Product Line

The MacBook Air was released in late 2010 and it represented a technological and strategic shift for Apple. Being very thin, the MacBook Air does not have any optical drives and is therefore dependent on flash-based storage and Internet-based services. This model is also very lightweight, weighing slightly over 1 kg.

Buying Apple Laptops on eBay

If you are looking for any of the popular Apple laptop models on eBay, you can always start by inserting your search terms into the search box that you can easily find at the top of any eBay page. After you receive the initial search results, you can sort them by auction time or price. You may also specify the item condition, although most older models are probably used.

Note that many of the popular models came in different configurations, and similar item names may actually refer to different products. You may locate similar products by clicking on related searches, which may often be more specific than your initial search. In any case, read through the detailed item listings in order to learn more about specific features. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact the seller and ask. Besides enquiring about the specifications, you may also ask about delivery, payment methods, refunds, exchanges, postage, and packaging. If you deal with top-rated sellers, you are more likely to get your answers quickly and find high-quality products. In order to find top-rated sellers, always read the seller's feedback and browse the ratings given by other buyers.


Apple has been producing laptops from as early as 1989. Throughout the years, the models have been innovative, although not all of them have been successful. Apple has used many advanced technologies, and has quite often been the first to do so.

The Macintosh Portable was the first Apple laptop, and weighed over 7 kg. Although it had long battery life, it did not sell very well. The PowerBook product line followed in 1991, and products were released from this line until 2006. The PowerBook 100 was the first laptop to have the keyboard close to the display, while the PowerBook Duo was known for its light weight and portability. The Macintosh PowerBook 5300 came to be known as a failure because of its exploding batteries. The PowerBook G3 was an innovation, thanks to third generation processors. The last PowerBook G4 models offered high performance that enabled video and music editing.

While the PowerBook line was for professional use, the iBooks, produced from 1999 to 2006, were aimed at the educational and general consumer market. The iBook G3 and iBook G4 were the most notable models.

MacBook and MacBook Pro product lines are probably the best known among Apple laptops. They used Intel processors, thus providing fast processing speeds. In 2010, the MacBook Air, an ultra-thin laptop, was introduced. It marked a step toward Internet-based services.

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