iBook Turns 20: Watch Steve Jobs Unveil the World's First Notebook With Wireless Internet

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Upon returning to Apple in the late 1990s, Steve Jobs came up with a 2×2 product grid in an effort to simplify Apple's then-bloated lineup of computers. The grid was split into four quadrants, including a professional desktop, a consumer desktop, a professional portable, and a consumer portable.


    Today marks the 20th anniversary of Jobs unveiling the fourth and final product in the grid, the iBook, at the 1999 Macworld Expo in New York City.

    Targeted at consumers and students, the iBook easily stood out from other notebooks of its era with its unique clamshell-like design, consisting of hard, translucent plastic casing topped with soft, colorful rubber. Initial colors included Blueberry and Tangerine, with later models available in Graphite, Indigo, and Key Lime.


    The original iBook, priced from $1,599, was equipped with a 12.1-inch display with an 800×600 resolution, a full-sized keyboard, and a trackpad. It also featured a retractable handle along its hinge, with Apple calling it an "iMac to go," although it was decently heavy at 6.7 pounds -- even for its time.


    Above all, the iBook was the first mass consumer product with support for wireless networking, with the 802.11b standard allowing for speeds up to 11 Mbps. Wireless support was not built in and required purchasing an optional $99 AirPort wireless card and a $299 AirPort base station.

    Jobs demonstrated the iBook's wireless networking by walking across the stage with the notebook while loading a website, with the audience erupting in cheers. He then placed it through a hula hoop to prove there were no cables attached.

    Memorably, a younger Phil Schiller even jumped from a height while holding the iBook as it wirelessly transferred accelerometer data. Referencing the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, Schiller quipped "this is definitely one small step for man, and one giant leap for wireless networking."

    Other tech specs included a 300MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 3.2GB hard drive, 32MB of RAM, ATI Rage Mobility graphics, 10/100 Ethernet, a CD-ROM drive, and up to six hours of battery life. To keep costs down, it had no FireWire port, video out, or microphone, and only one speaker and one USB port.

    Apple went on to introduce a redesigned iBook with a more traditional notebook design in May 2001, followed by the white polycarbonate MacBook in 2006, but the original will always be an important part of Apple's history.

    Last year, YouTubers iJustine and MKBHD teamed up to unbox an original, sealed iBook:

    For more nostalgia:
    CNN news article about the iBook from July 21, 1999
    CNN interview with Steve Jobs from July 21, 1999
    iBook page on Apple.com circa October 1, 1999We invite any readers who still own an iBook to share a photo in the comments section.

    Article Link: iBook Turns 20: Watch Steve Jobs Unveil the World's First Notebook With Wireless Internet
  2. itsmilo macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2016
    And today we still don’t have LTE built into a laptop. Why is that?
  3. Bustycat macrumors regular


    Jan 21, 2015
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan
    Were there lots of issues from the first iBook devices? There were lots of issues from the first MacBook devices.
  4. Stiss macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2009
    Why is it needed with the amount of free wifi that's out there
  5. NickName99 macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2018
    On my MacBook Pro I just select my phone in the WiFi list, and it connects via my iPhone’s LTE. I don’t even have to take my iPhone out of my pocket.
  6. Diorama macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2017
    Don’t you have another LTE-capable Apple device that acts as a modem for your laptop anyway?
  7. fonzy91 macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2007
    Ah Steve, the only person right now changing the world to the same degree is Elon Musk. So grateful for these incredible dreamers that push progress!
  8. vmachiel macrumors 68000

    Feb 15, 2011
    That basic product strategy was so damn smart. It got everything back on track.
  9. DRDR macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2008
    The differences between Steve Jobs (enthusiasm, love for detail, free talking) and Tim Cook are pretty obvious.
  10. Bokito macrumors regular

    May 29, 2007
    Yes, but your phone is out of battery in an hour if you do that. At least, that's the experience I have (had) with both my 5s and 7. Besides that a direct connection will be faster and more stable.

    I rather keep my data private and never want to connect to unprotected networks. 4G is also way faster and more stable in many areas.
  11. NightFox macrumors 68020


    May 10, 2005
    Shropshire, UK
    Would love to see a product grid for today's line up, but I think we might run out of shapes and dimensions.
  12. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    I remember streaming this announcement from a public library in Trondheim, Norway where I was on a family trip.

    It was pretty exciting. The laptop not so much, but the wireless yes.

    Those were the days of exciting product announcements. I was at a summer camp when the Cube came out and we weren't allowed to get outside news for the duration of the camp (it was foreign language immersion). So knowing the MacWorld Expo would be coming up I had a friend ready to print out all the web pages from whatever Mac news sites I followed at the time along with the official apple.com product pages. So I first learned about the Cube via contraband mail at summer camp. That was quite an announcement.
  13. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Time you replaced your battery, then. I have a old, portable wireless 3G modem and the tiny battery on that is good for 4hrs at least. WWAN cards have fallen out of favour with PC notebooks too. You used to be able to specify one as an option with Lenovo back in the day but I don't think there's much demand for them these days for the reasons already specified.
  14. KGBguy macrumors regular


    Feb 19, 2015
    USSR 2.0
    We already have it, it’s called the table of Mendeleev (you Americans know it as the periodic table) ;)
  15. Shirasaki macrumors G3


    May 16, 2015
    Only good for people living in big cities. And as others point out, free wifi is not safe. Also, I don't really think free wifi is “everywhere”, at least in Sydney.
    Based on your logic, we should not need to have iPad with cellular in the first place. But, we have cellular iPads for a decade now. Why? Plus, using iPhone drains the battery faster, believe it or not.
  16. kildraik macrumors 6502a


    May 7, 2006
    Wow. Watching Steve on stage talking about the iBook... What a visionary. It brings back that special electricity in the air, you know?
  17. not_anton macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2019
    Wow, $1600 price twenty years ago? That’s $2500 adjusted today - more than a 15” Macbook Pro!
    Mr. Tim does really good job at keeping manufacturing costs down...
  18. mdm3 macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2013
    IMG_0465.jpg Fired mine up in honour of the day. I had forgotten how heavy they were.
  19. ibjoshua macrumors 6502a


    Jan 17, 2002
    New Zealand
    Still running our 2004 iBook as an iTunes server.

    Attached Files:

  20. Unregistered 4U macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2002
    And that’s just for the official grid, not counting the systems people WANT to exist. Like the “Mac Pro, but not as powerful because I really like the features, but I don’t have THAT much money”. Or the “Mac mini, but powerful enough to run 4 8k monitors”. Or the “MacBook Pro that’s super thick, with a 17 inch screen and ALL DA PORTS!”

    Actually, as far as Mac goes, one thing sticks out, the Mac mini just doesn’t belong and shouldn’t exist.
  21. nexusrule macrumors 6502

    Aug 11, 2012
    Sure, self-centered authoritarian egotists firmly convinced that the world revolves around them are definitely the dreamers that change the world. After all what else is in need to be changed to make the world better if not making cool tech devices. It’s not like there are wars, hunger, slavery, exploitation, children that die every minute from curable diseases just so that entitled western people can keep their life style and be able to afford their shiny widget.
  22. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    I think it would be easier to split their current into three product categories rather than two.

    All in one:

    - iMac
    - iMac Pro


    - Mac Mini
    - Mac Pro


    - MacBook Air
    - MacBook Pro

    When you look at it that way I don’t think it’s that confusing.
  23. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502a

    Fried Chicken

    Jun 11, 2011
    The first laptop with wireless networking? Tim Cook take a hint, that's what innovation is.

    Animojis are not innovation.
  24. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yet the FaceID technology behind it most certainly is.
  25. iPhysicist macrumors 65816


    Nov 9, 2009
    Mac mini should be far left maybe on the left ordinate, it is also portable and the very entry mac. The iMac pro should be between consumer and pro.

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280 July 21, 2019