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Think Retro: The Macintosh Portable is about as portable as a sack of potatoes

Christopher Phin | Feb. 18, 2015
In the picture above, I am holding a Macintosh Portable, the spiritual ancestor of the MacBook Air. Well, that's what I'm holding in my left hand; in my right, for reasons which will shortly become clear, I'm holding a sack of potatoes.

But if, back in the day, you were someone who did this regularly, commuting your Macintosh Portable daily to and from work, tell me in the comments and I will buy a hat for the express purpose of taking it off to you. Yeah, 15.8 pounds might not sound like much, but boy-howdy do you quickly start to feel it.

The next time you go to buy groceries, try holding a couple of gallons of milk, and see how long you can before things start to ache. (I know, I know; people will think you're weird. But look, I stood in a park with my iPhone on a tripod repeatedly lifting a sack of potatoes and vintage computer hardware for you, so this is the least you can do for me.) It probably won't feel bad at first, but after a few minutes — unless you've actually being going to, rather than merely being a member of, a gym — you'll want to put them down.

This isn't just idle, foodstuffs-based fun. The fact that computers these days are so very portable — orders of magnitude lighter and more svelte, never mind more capable — drastically changes how, and how often, we use them. Even if the services, infrastructure and societal acceptance needed to tweet, send emails and flick through Tinder matches anywhere in the world had been there in 1989 when the Macintosh Portable was introduced, of course nobody really would have, because it was literally a pain in the neck to have one dangling from your shoulder wherever you went.

The image of carrying a sack of potatoes around with you because you need a computer is, of course, daft, but you have to ask yourself: what are we doing unthinkingly today that will seem equally silly a quarter of a century hence?


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