January 10, 2006: Steve Jobs unveils the original 15-inch MacBook Pro, Apple’s thinnest, fastest and lightest laptop yet.
Building on the previous PowerBook G4 laptop, but adding dual Intel processors for the first time, the laptop immediately makes waves in the tech community. And did we mention its awesome MagSafe connector?
The first Intel MacBook
The transition to Intel chips was one of the most significant talking points at the time the first MacBook Pro arrived. (Jobs had revealed that Macs would switch from PowerPC processors the previous June.)
Although some people were initially skeptical, Jobs thought embracing Intel was an important move — particularly since the company’s impressive road map showed it was interested in innovating in much the way Apple was.
To mark the transition from PowerPC, Jobs ditched the PowerBook name, which had been used for Apple laptops since 1991. It was proof positive that this was a turning point in the history of Apple laptops, although at the time was viewed as Jobs showing a lack of respect for Cupertino’s history (particularly the history that had taken place when he was away from the company.)
If the name gave people reason to be skeptical about the MacBook Pro, however, Apple made sure this was a machine that delivered on what it promised. In a very rare move, the laptop shipped with a faster CPU than initially announced, offering even better performance while staying at the same price point.
The cheaper $1,999 MacBook Pro promised a 1.67 GHz CPU, but actually shipped at 1.83 GHz, while the higher-end $2,499 machine was promised at 1.83 GHz and shipped at 2.0 GHz. Once again, Apple was determined to outperform rivals. Its Intel Core Duo CPU meant that it offered up to five times the performance of its predecessor.
MagSafe and other features
The other big feature I remember about the first MacBook Pro was the arrival of Apple’s (sadly now abandoned) MagSafe connector. This magnetic power connector meant that if someone tripped over your Mac cord, it would simply detach itself rather than pulling your laptop down to the floor.
The concept was taken from the magnetic connectors used in deep fryers and other cooking appliances, where the safety feature saved cooks from potentially spilling dangerously hot liquids. Apple improved upon it, and was therefore granted a patent, by finding a way to make the connector symmetrical and reversible, thereby making it incredibly easy to use.
In addition to this, the new MacBook Pro boasted a 15.4-inch LCD widescreen display and built-in iSight camera, both representing advances for Apple laptops.
Did you own the original MacBook Pro? Do you think Apple’s MacBook Pro product line has lived up to its early promise? Leave your comments below.