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The death of the MacBook: An Obituary

The introduction of OS X Lion and the newest MacBook Airs saw the end of the humble MacBook. Here's a fond retrospective on the history of our loyal black and white friend.

Black and White 2006 MacBooks

Whilst the world watched in awe as OS X Lion was paraded before them (and subsequently downloaded in their masses), with some shiny new MacBook Airs and Mac Minis in tow, the humble MacBook was quietly ushered out of Apple’s back door, only to be banished to education institution-only purchases and soon to be defined by Apple’s support system as ‘vintage’. It’s a sad day for those of us who started our journey with Mac by purchasing a black or white MacBook way back when in early 2006, so it seems only right that we at iCreate give it a proper send off with a potted history of the best-selling Mac in history.

Black and White 2006 MacBooks
The original 2006 MacBooks - available in black and white.

Introduced on 16th May 2006, it was the first laptop to fall in line with Apple’s transition from PowerPC to Intel processors and it took a few pundits, who were expecting an iBook G5. Sporting an Intel Core Duo processor, a recessed keyboard, a magnetic latch with no moving parts, MagSafe power adapter, and a sleek black or white polycarbonate casing, it certainly looked great on paper. The reality, however, was a little different. Some users complained that their MacBooks would randomly shut down and Apple responded by replacing the CPU heatsinks and pushing out firmware updates. Over time as well, parts of the polycarbonate shell would chip off, particularly around the edges of the keyboard and screen. Again, Apple stepped up and replaced the casing with an improved design that didn’t crack.

Aluminium Unibody MacBook
Every Mac has silver lining...apparently.

Apple progressively updated the MacBook over the next couple of years with general hardware improvements that saw its popularity grow even further, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the MacBook got its first major face-lift. On 14th October 2008, at a Cupertino press conference entitled ‘The Spotlight Turns To Notebooks’, Apple unveiled the aluminium unibody MacBook. As well as taking on a look much more akin to that of the newly refreshed aluminium unibody MacBook Pros, it also featured an Nvidea chipset (which was up to five times faster than the original MacBook), a multi-touch glass trackpad, an LED backlit screen, and a new MiniDisplay port. It’s unsurprising then, that the mid-range version of this model became the best selling U.S. laptop for the next five months. The only faux-pas Apple appeared to make with this one is that lack of a FireWire 400 port. Although this didn’t affect a lot of users, some critics picked up on it and it was promptly reinstated in its FireWire 800 form again when they were re-branded as the 13″ MacBook Pro later on in the year.

White Unibody MacBook
The last ever Macbook - a unibody dream

Fastforward a year, and in October 2009, Apple announcements yet another refreshed design of the humble MacBook. It’s now wearing a polycarbonate unibody casing, complete with an anti-slip rubber base and a glossy fingerprint-resistant palm rest. The polycarbonate unibody MacBook certainly shined the brightest aesthetically, but it was this model that would eventually see its unfortunate end. Whilst some critics praised it as the best entry-level notebook Apple ever produced, others were quick to point out the pricing issues when compared to the MacBook Pro. Indeed, at its worst, the MacBook was only priced £139 cheaper than it’s 13″ pro counterpart, meaning that a lot of consumers simply opted to speck up for what was a relatively small hit on their wallets.

With pricing not on it’s side, and the introduction and expansion of the MacBook Air range, it’s not hard to see why Apple chose to ditch the MacBook once and for all this july, but it’s fair to say that it will leave a legacy behind and a hole in some hearts of die-hard fans. Apple’s most popular ever MacBook is no more, well, unless you happen to be a school. Long live the MacBook.

How do you feel about the death of the MacBook? Was it premature or is it time to move on to a MacBook Air? Let us know in the comments or Tweet us @iCreateMagazine.