in 1991 by Apple Computer
as a replacement
for the competent
but klunky Mac Portable, the PowerBook has often been at the bleeding edge of laptop technology
. It pioneer
ed the now-industry-standard
keyboard-aft-with-palm-rests layout, and later models were the first in the industry with:
Desktop-system-mountable hard drives (SCSI Disk Mode,) persistent RAM disks, portable dockability, desktop dockability, sleep-swappable battery, the trackpad, built-in ethernet, 16-bit stereo sound, dual-scan passive-matrix screens, dual battery bays, intelligent power management, processor cycling, tappable trackpads, lithium-ion batteries, hot-swappable expansion bays, battery/drive swappability, tool-free internal access, embedded numeric keypads, illuminated logo, multi-purpose function keys with sound and screen controls and programmable application-launch keys, 10 hour battery life, "nap" cycling, 128-bit 2D/3D graphics acceleration, desktop-booting with full external monitor VRAM allocation, pure digital audio CD playback, and integrated 802.11b wireless networking with dual internal antennas.
The line was so successful that Apple created a second series, the less-expensive iBooks, for students and consumers. The current models are noted by high-end gamers as the only portable systems you can buy that don't suck at Unreal Tournament. They are also the most popular laptop in product placements, and the fastest portable system for digital video and Photoshop, not to mention just about everything else. The once Porsche-like pricing has now dropped to $2499 for the PowerBook/400 and $3499 for the PowerBook/500.
UPDATE: Industry-firsts for the PowerBook G4:
Government export restrictions for supercomputer-class machines, CP1 titanium enclosure, slot-loading optical drive in a laptop of one inch thickness, hot-swappable battery, auto-retracting lid latch, keyhole-compensation resolution scaling, ventilated CardBus slot, and magnet-based keyboard smoothing.