Apple Unveils A New Line of Macintosh PowerBook Computers

New Notebook-Sized Computers Combine Convenience, Power, and Affordability

COMDEX, Las Vegas, Nevada--October 21, 1991--Apple Computer, Inc. announced a new line of highly anticipated notebook-sized systems today called the Apple Macintosh PowerBook computers.  Equipped with all the traditional Macintosh features, each of these three new computers is designed to be convenient enough to fit in a briefcase, powerful enough for the most demanding computing tasks, and affordable enough for a wide range of users.

The announcement took place on the opening day of COMDEX, the world's largest personal computer exposition.  The week-long show draws 100,000 attendees from all over the world with diverse computing interests.  In keeping with its goal to reach more people with Macintosh, Apple introduced the PowerBook computers here to attract new customers who haven't historically purchased Macintosh.  Apple believes that the choice of three different notebook-sized models combining traditional Macintosh simplicity with powerful capabilities will address the price and performance needs of a wide range of customers in large and small business, government, education, and the home.

"Our goal is to lead the industry in notebook computing," said John Sculley, Apple's chairman and chief executive officer.  "We think the Macintosh PowerBooks will appeal not only to dedicated Mac customers, but also to traditional PC users, and even people who have never before considered using a computer.  Our new notebooks will open doors for Apple by virtue of their superb combination of simplicity and convenience."

The Macintosh PowerBook line of computers includes the PowerBook 100, PowerBook 140, and PowerBook 170.  All share several common characteristics.  Most notable are the ergonomic advantages, which include an integrated trackball and palm rest, full-size keyboard, easy-to-read full page-width screen, and tilt adjustments.  Internally, each PowerBook includes the full spectrum of standard Macintosh features:  System 7 operating system, enhanced networking capability with AppleTalk Remote Access software, a SCSI port for connecting a range of Macintosh peripherals, and a sound-output port and speaker.  Each PowerBook ships with at least 2MB (megabytes) of memory (expandable to 8MB) and a 20MB or 40MB internal hard disk.

"Apple started with a completely different design premise than other notebook computer makers," said Randy Battat, vice president of portable computing.  "While most companies merely shrink desktop systems into a notebook size, our approach was to first consider how people using notebook computers work differently.  So we built communications right into every box.  We placed a premium on smooth desktop and network integration.  And, most importantly, we made user comfort and convenience the center of the design effort."

PowerBook 100

The Apple Macintosh PowerBook 100 is Apple's most affordable PowerBook computer.  Based on the Motorola 16 MHz 68000 microprocessor and weighing only 5.1 pounds, the PowerBook 100 is the smallest and lightest of Apple's new line (8.5" x 11" x 1.8"). It comes standard with 2MB of RAM and a 20MB internal hard drive. The PowerBook 100 connects to a new external 1.4MB SuperDrive floppy drive from Apple, allowing users the flexibility to travel with or without its additional weight.  Through the use of a special adapter, the PowerBook 100 can connect to a desktop computer via a standard SCSI (small computer systems interface) port to transfer information easily.  It will also connect to MS-DOS-based systems via a built-in serial port.  The PowerBook 100 will support external monochrome displays through third-party video adapters.  It is powered by a sealed lead-acid battery that provides 2 to 4 hours of usage before recharging is necessary. Its base suggested retail price in the United States is $2,299.

PowerBook 140

The Apple Macintosh PowerBook 140 is the midrange member of the PowerBook line, offering performance equivalent to that of the popular Macintosh IIcx or 2.5 times the Macintosh Classic.  Based on a Motorola 16 MHz 68030 microprocessor, the PowerBook 140 weighs 6.8 pounds and offers greater performance and more storage options than the PowerBook 100.  It measures 9.3" x 11.25" x 2.25" and comes standard with an internal 1.4MB SuperDrive that uses high-density floppy disks and reads, writes, and formats Macintosh, MS-DOS, OS/2, and ProDOS disks.  It includes 2MB or 4MB of RAM and is configured with a 20MB or 40MB internal hard disk. Its base suggested retail price in the United States is $2,899.

Both the PowerBook 100 and PowerBook 140 feature full-page width backlit Supertwist liquid crystal displays.

PowerBook 170

The Apple Macintosh PowerBook 170 is the highest performance member of the PowerBook line.  It features a 25 MHz 68030 microprocessor and 68882 math coprocessor combination that offers users computing power equivalent to that of the high-performance Macintosh IIci.  It also features a state-of-the-art backlit active-matrix liquid crystal display that provides superior screen performance in all lighting conditions.  A built-in 2,400-baud modem (with fax send at 9,600 baud) is included for sending or receiving mail messages, accessing information on other computers, and printing remotely to facsimile machines.  The PowerBook 170 comes standard with a 1.4MB SuperDrive, 4MB of RAM and a 40MB internal hard disk.  As with the PowerBook 140, it weighs just 6.8 pounds and measures 9.3" x 11.25" x 2.25".  Its suggested retail price in the United States is $4,599.

Both the PowerBook 140 and 170 will support external monochrome and color displays and projection devices via third- party video adapters.  In addition, the 140 and 170 ship with a microphone and sound input capability, allowing users to record voice and sound to documents.  Both are powered by a NiCad battery that provides 2 to 3 hours of usage before recharging is necessary.


Each PowerBook computer is designed to be portable as well as comfortable to use.  An integrated dual button trackball pointing device is centered below the keyboard to ease operation of the computer in any mobile situation.  The standard keyboard layout features "quiet touch" keys with 3mm of travel that is familiar and comfortable to use.  Full-page width displays feature high-quality screen resolution that make viewing the display easy on the eyes in a variety of lighting conditions.  The screen tilts to any angle allowing the user to adjust it for better viewing or to reduce glare.  The PowerBook computers also incorporate a simple tilt mechanism that lets users adjust the unit to the most comfortable working angle.

The PowerBook computers are the first portables to fully integrate palmrests into the product design.  This feature, which extends the surface area around the keyboard, lets the user find the most comfortable position for typing on a desktop and makes it possible for the wrist to be kept in a neutral position, which is recommended by ergonomic medical specialists.  (Scientific studies have shown that extreme flection and extension are risk factors in the development of repetitive stress injuries.)  In addition, palmrests facilitate "micro" pauses during periods of typing that reduce stress on the user's upper extremities (hands, arms, shoulders and neck).  For laptop use, the PowerBook fits comfortably on the lap and still provides adequate palm support and trackball access.

Power Management

All of the PowerBooks feature intelligent power management that extends battery life and safeguards data in low power conditions by reducing power consumption.  An automatic or user selected "sleep" feature prompts the hard disk and system to hibernate and consume less power when not in use.  Since power is not completely shut off and RAM is still active, the computer wakes up quickly with the touch of a key.  A "system rest" feature, which is transparent to the user, automatically reduces the power consumed by the microprocessor when not in use.  A small application program (called a desk accessory) graphically depicts the battery level for the user, and special dialog boxes automatically alert the user when the battery is running low and needs to be replaced or recharged.

System 7 Capabilities

There are several powerful capabilities that System 7 lends to the PowerBooks such as Balloon Help and File Sharing.  In applications that support it, Balloon Help prompts users with helpful reminders of the function of items in the menu display. This is especially useful to PowerBook users who don't want to carry along heavy software manuals.  File Sharing is another System 7 capability that gives PowerBook users an edge.  This feature allows users to conveniently exchange data between computers via the built-in LocalTalk connector.  By simply plugging the PowerBook into the desktop computer via standard cables, the File Sharing software allows users to see the entire contents of the PowerBook on the desktop machine or vice versa. It is a quick and easy way to transfer or share files.

AppleTalk Remote Access

It's especially important for mobile computer users to be able to remotely access a home computer or office network.  To achieve this, Apple is bundling AppleTalk Remote Access software with every PowerBook.  AppleTalk Remote Access is a new Apple product that allows users to connect to an AppleTalk network over a standard telephone line using a data modem.  When connected, users gain access to all of the home or office-based network services as if they were locally connected.  For example, users can dial in to a remote computer and retrieve a forgotten file, print a document for a colleague back at the office, or access an online calendar.

PowerBook Service

Owners of any of Apple's three PowerBook computers in the United States have the option of having them serviced by Apple authorized service providers or sending them directly to Apple for repairs under The Apple PowerBook Service Program announced today by Apple USA.  (See separate press release for further details.)

PowerBook Accessories

Apple is offering a complete line of accessories to complement the Macintosh PowerBooks from memory expansion cards to SCSI cables to extra batteries and rechargers.  Third-party developers will also be announcing today several key products to enhance the capabilities of the PowerBooks.  (Please refer to Fall 1991 Third-Party Product Descriptions for a detailed list).

Pricing and Availability

All of the Apple Macintosh PowerBooks and most accessories will be available immediately through authorized Apple resellers worldwide.  Due to anticipated high demand at introduction, Apple expects availability on some models to be limited until late November.  In the United States, each comes equipped with Macintosh System 7.0.1 software, AppleTalk Remote Access software, HyperCard 2.1 software, complete documentation, training software, a power adapter, a battery, and a one-year limited warranty. Manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) and availability in the United States for the PowerBook computers and related products are as follows:

Product/Configuration  MSRPAvailability
PowerBook 100 2MB RAM/20MB Hard Disk    $2,299  Limited until late Nov.
PowerBook 100 2MB RAM/20MB Hard Disk    $2,499  Immediate
  with external floppy drive
PowerBook 140 2MB RAM/20MB Hard Disk    $2,899  Immediate
PowerBook 140 2MB RAM/40MB Hard Disk    $3,199  Limited until late Nov.
PowerBook 140 4MB RAM/40MB Hard Disk    $3,499  Limited until late Nov.
PowerBook 170 4MB RAM/40MB Hard Disk    $4,599  Limited until late Nov.
  with modem


2MB PSRAM Memory Expansion Kit                    $399  Immediate
4MB PSRAM Memory Expansion Kit                    $899  January 1992
Rechargeable Battery for PowerBook 100              $99  Immediate
Rechargeable Battery for PowerBook 140 & 170   $99  Immediate
Battery Recharger for PowerBook 100         $159  January 1992
Battery Recharger for PowerBook 140 & 170        $159  Immediate
Power Adapter                                                       $99  Immediate
External Floppy Drive                                             $279  Immediate
SCSI Disk Adapter                                                $49  Immediate
SCSI System Cable                                                $49  Immediate
Domestic Modem                                                   $349  Immediate

(Prices, configurations, and availability may vary outside the United States.)

Apple, the Apple logo, Macintosh, AppleTalk, and LocalTalk are registered trademarks; and PowerBook, SuperDrive and Balloon Help are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc.  Classic is a trademark used under license by Apple Computer, Inc.  HyperCard is a registered trademark of Apple Computer, Inc. licensed to Claris Corp.

Kate Paisley
Apple Computer, Inc.
(408) 974-5453