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, the new laptop adds dual-core Intel processors for the first time. The MacBook Pro immediately makes waves in the tech community. And did we mention its awesome MagSafe connector?
The transition to Intel chips became one of the most significant talking points after Jobs unveiled the MacBook Pro at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. (Jobs revealed that Macs would switch from PowerPC processors the previous June.)
Although some people started out skeptical, Jobs thought embracing Intel would ultimately prove important. The chipmaker’s impressive road map showed a keen interest in innovation, much like Apple’s.
MacBook Pro: The first Intel MacBook
To mark the transition from PowerPC, Jobs ditched the “PowerBook” name, which Apple began using for its laptops in 1991.
The name change was proof positive that this was a turning point in the history of Apple laptops. However, at the time, some viewed the switch as Jobs showing a lack of respect for Cupertino’s history (particularly things that unfolded while he was away from the company).
Although the name gave people reason for skepticism about the MacBook Pro, Apple made sure the machine 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 $1,999 MacBook Pro promised a 1.67 GHz CPU, but actually shipped at 1.83 GHz. The higher-end $2,499 machine jumped from 1.83 GHz to 2.0 GHz. Once again, Apple seemed determined to outperform rivals. The MacBook Pro’s Intel Core Duo CPU meant offered up to five times the performance of its predecessor.
MagSafe and other MacBook Pro features
The other big feature I remember about the first MacBook Pro was the arrival of the Mac’s (sadly now abandoned in favor of USB-C) MagSafe connector. Apple’s innovative magnetic power connector meant that if someone tripped over your Mac cord, it would simply detach rather than pulling your laptop down to the floor.
Cupertino borrowed the concept from the magnetic connectors used in deep fryers and other cooking appliances to protect cooks from spilling dangerously hot liquids. But Apple improved upon it (and earned a patent) by making the connector symmetrical and reversible — and thus incredibly easy to use.
The new MacBook Pro also boasted a 15.4-inch LCD widescreen display and built-in iSight camera, both advances for Apple laptops.
So long, Intel. Hello, M1.
Last year, Apple revealed it would build its own ARM-based chips for Macs and begin severing ties with Intel. The first MacBook Pro powered by Apple’s new M1 chip arrived in November 2020, bringing performance and battery life gains that put Intel and AMD on notice.
Cupertino says it should complete the transition to Apple Silicon for all Macs within two years.
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.