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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Fun With Charts: The laptop gets ever smaller

Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.

I showed my kids a PowerBook 180 today. They’d never seen one before. In my memory it is a mind-blowingly small and light computer that, for the first time, allowed me to take my Mac with me anywhere I went. It changed my life, and that’s not an exaggeration.

My kids laughed. Both of them used the word “brick” to describe it.

So goes the march of time. The trend in laptop design, since the very beginning, has been toward lighter and thinner laptops. In 2001 Steve Jobs boasted about the mind-blowing one-inch thickness of the Titanium PowerBook G4; 19 years later the average Mac laptop is half that thickness.

But it’s one thing to know that laptops trend toward thinness and lightness. It’s another to see a chart that lets you visualize it. So I dug through the specs of past Mac systems at and averaged the weight and thickness of the Mac laptop product line for every year since the first Mac laptop, the hilariously heavy Mac Portable, hit the scene.

Keep in mind that these are averages based on the entire product line, so while the appearance of a MacBook Air or MacBook will lower the average, the real story is the trend across all models.

People with knowledge of the Mac’s history will appreciate the ebb and flow of the stats on these charts, as Apple tried to balance increasing the power of a laptop while not making it too big and heavy. Sometimes there were steps back (in terms of weight and thickness) that were steps forward in terms of speed.

But the long-term trend, as always, is downward.

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