Apple’s iBook 20th Anniversary: How Steve Jobs Unveiled the World’s First Notebook With Wireless Internet

George Herman
George Herman
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On July 21, twenty years ago, Steve Jobs unveiled the final installment to his famous 2×2 product grid, which was made to simplify Apple’s computer lineup for users. Before the big reveal of the iBook, only three out of the four quadrants were filled up with products – they included a consumer desktop (iMac), a professional desktop (Power Mac) and a professional portable (PowerBook).

At the 1999 Macworld Expo in NY, Jobs unveiled the fourth and final product in the said grid – the iBook. The product attracted consumers with its unique design. Initially, the notebook came in only two colors – Tangerine and Blueberry, but later on it was made available in Graphite, Indigo and Key Lime.

Back in the day, the iBook was priced at $1,599 and had the following specs:

  • 12.1-inch display;
  • 800×600 resolution;
  • full-sized keyboard;
  • trackpad;
  • retractable handle along the hinge;
  • 300MHz PowerPC G3 processor;
  • 3.2GB hard drive;
  • 32MB RAM;
  • ATI Rage Mobility graphics;
  • 10/100 Ethernet;
  • CD-ROM drive;
  • one speaker;
  • one USB port;
  • up to six hours battery life;
  • wireless networking support.

Apple even referred to the iBook as an ‘iMac to go.

However, users had to purchase the optional $99 AirPort wireless card, as well as the $299 AirPort base station, since the wireless support was not built-in.

The iBook’s wireless networking capabilities were demonstrated live on the stage by Steve Jobs, which had the entire audience ecstatic. Jobs even wen further by placing the notebook through a hula hoop, to prove that there were no cables attached to it.

In May 2001, Apple launched a redesigned version of the iBook. Only five years later, the company released the infamous MacBook, starting a new chapter in Apple’s portable computer era.

YouTubers iJustine and MKBHD can be seen unboxing an original, sealed iBook in a video from last year:

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