“Intended as a replacement for the Portable ….” in that case they were talking about the MacPortable a luggable portable computer from the late 1980s. In that case they were talking about the Powerbook 140 series. That was also my first laptop computer. I was thinking about that and came across the article describeing the 140 I came to the stark realization that the ipad was another “replacement”.

Take a look at the specs.

PowerBook 140
9.8″ 640×480 monochrome screen
8MB RAM (max)
80MB HD (max)
2.25-11.25-9.3 inches
2-3 hrs battery

9.7″ 1024×768 touch screen
64GB drive
1.6 lbs
0.5-9.56-7.47 inches
9-10 hrs battery

The screen size is the most obvious comparison and the reduced size is just a small sign of technology progress. If you split the PB140 in half to remove half of the laptops “clamshell” Then the are remarkably similar (20% less all the way around). Physical size changes are more limitedly by the users than the technology. Weight and battery life show the examples of technology progress. Like the iPad the Powerbook introduced a new form factor (maybe not a unique one). The PowerBook pushed the keyboard towards the back and added a palm rest and pointing device towards the front. Again, a change in the ergonomics for the user. Even the arguments over expandability is there; PCMCIA then and SD card slot today.

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