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The Apple Computer Story - Portability 1977 onwards

Carry Bag - Apple Macintosh Plus

Image: Carry Bag - Apple Macintosh Plus

Source: Museum Victoria

Several stages have been identified in the history of the Apple Computer Company from 1976 to 2002. These stages are not necessarily chronological and, in fact, some overlap in time.

This narrative deals with one of those stages.

Each stage is described in a separate narrative.

The complete list of stages is:

Apple I Launched 1976
Corporate Rise 1977-1983
The Graphic User Interface 1983-1984
Desktop Publishing 1985-1991 
Imaging 1987-1994
Cable Networking 1984-1991
Portability 1977 onwards
Digital Video 1991
Apple loses its way 1991-1996
Return to Roots 1996-1999
MegaHertz War Myth 1994-2005
UNIX operating system adopted 1999 and 2001
Wireless connectivity introduced 1999
Music for the Millions 2001onwards

Portability 1979 onwards

From the outset, the Apple II computer was portable and carry bags were made for it. However the need to supply a monitor did restrict its portability. The advent of the Macintosh, an all-in-one computer, meant that the entire computer system became portable, although it was clumsy and heavy.

In 1993 Apple released the Apple Newton MessagePad, a tablet with a pressure sensitive screen and stylus. It was the world's first personal digital assistant (PDA), and in reality it was a tiny hand held portable computer. Its key features were its fax and email capabilities, personal organiser applications and its ability to recognise and interpret words hand written on its screen. It supported infra-red connection with other devices, including printers, computers and other Newtons. It was axed in 1997, not because it was a failure, but because acting CEO Steve Jobs decided that there was a desperate need for a floundering Apple Computer to return to its core business. The Newton team founded Palm Inc which released the even smaller Palm Pilot, and became the leader in the PDA industry.

By 1997 component miniaturisation together with better techniques to mass produce liquid crystal displays (LCD) saw the introduction of laptop or notebook style PCs. Apple's PowerBook 100 was introduced and set new standards for ergonomic design. This included a trackball to act as a mouse and a set-back keyboard offering the user a palm rest for more comfortable typing. This template has come to dominate all laptop design, while the trackball has given way to the touchpad, again first introduced in an Apple laptop. The notebook challenged the desktop computer as the PC of choice, although it took a decade before the ratio of sales reached 50/50.

'Portability 1979 onwards' is represented in the Apple Collection by: Carrybags; Newton MessagePad; PowerBook PB100

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