Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:03

Mac Portable prototype on eBay, not left handed!!


A lot of articles about the Mac Portable prototype for sale on eBay say it's a 'rare left handed model', but that's utterly false as the Mac Portable could have its trackball user-mounted on either side of the keyboard!

It's sad when so many tech blogs and publications get simple things wrong, as is the case with the Mac Portable prototype story.

Cult of Mac says it's surprising because of Steve Jobs' 'hostility' to lefties, which is because of the antennagate problem iPhone 4's had - even though the Mac Portable was released so many years ago there's no possible correlation between a prototype Mac Portable and an iPhone 4.

Heck, we might as well call the prototype Mac Portable a late-20th century prototype iPad if we're going to be sooooo inaccurate about things, like calling this prototype some kind of left-handed rare Mac Portable, when it was actually a portable computer that suited either right or left handed users.

This is because, as explained at's site, by commenters in its comments section, that the trackball mouse on the Mac Portable could be moved to the left or right hand side of the keyboard, very easily, and was indeed one of the device's features.

Sure, the Mac Portable at eBay has the trackball on the left hand-side, but that's simply because that trackball hasn't been moved back to the right hand side, so it's not a "rare" left-hand only model at all.

Anyway, the 'rare' prototype Mac Portable, which is 'not intended for sale' and was for 'demonstration purposes only' is currently going for US $1750 on eBay, and is clearly a collector's item.

The Mac Portable was notable for having a lead-acid battery within, and while that gave it long battery life, it also made the Mac Portable very heavy.

The unit on eBay isn't powering up because the lead-acid battery is dead, but 9to5Mac readers have noted that replacement batteries can be fashioned today and there is a chance the prototype can be made to work again, although it will cost you at least US $1750, if not more, to find out!

Continued on page two, please read on!

According to the eBay listing, where you'll also find photos, here is the description:

'This an absolutely mint, flawless, clean prototype Macintosh Portable that was not intended for sale -- the label on the bottom notes that it is intended for demonstration purposes only and does not include the necessary certifications.

'The unit also includes the original soft-shell case (dusty, but in perfect condition), a system update floppy, original power adapter, and a signed form showing that the unit was checked out of Apple Computer in August of 1990.

'Note that this machine does not currently turn on.

'It appears the issue is that the lead acid battery (which is original and currently installed) no longer holds a charge, and Macintosh Portables cannot boot without a usable battery.

'See a full description of the problem here [at Wikipedia]. 

'It would appear that a collector with a little more time on his hands could get the machine booting up with little effort, but unfortunately, I simply don't have the time to invest -- hopefully, this little piece of Apple history will make a vintage computing enthusiast very, very happy.'

So'¦ if a trip down memory lane or a blast into portable computing's past is up your alley, and you've the cash to flash on your portable passions, this 'rare' Mac Portable prototype may be for you.

For the rest of us, a MacBook Air and an iPad (or next year's iPad 2) will be far more useful ways to spend the money!



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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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