PowerBook is Apple Computer's brand name for its series of Macintosh professional laptop computers. Since 1999, Apple has a second series of less expensive laptops, aimed at the consumer and education markets, the iBook.
Prior to the release of the PowerBook line, Apple had attempted to build a portable computer in the form of the Macintosh Portable. As its electronics were the same as a Macintosh Plus with an LCD, it was better known as a "luggable" due to its unfortunate size and weight. It was the butt of many jokes, and Apple was looking to improve the second time around.
In October 1991 the first three PowerBooks were released: from the low-end PowerBook 100, the more powerful PowerBook 140, and the high end PowerBook 170. The machines caused a stir in the industry, due to a combination of their compact dark grey cases, use of a trackball, and the clever arrangement of the keyboard which left room for resting one's wrists on the case.
In 1992 Apple released a hybrid portable/desktop computer, the PowerBook Duo. This was a very thin and lightweight laptop with a minimum of features, which could be insterted into a docking station to provide the system with extra memory, storage space, connectors, and could be connected to a monitor. The model did not sell as well as expected, although several companies have since picked up the design style.
The first series of PowerBooks were hugely successful and captured 40% of all laptop sales for a time, a fact that Apple seemed to do little to capitalize on. Instead the original team eventually were lured away to work at Compaq, setting back the effort to introduce updated versions for some time. For several years, new PowerBook and PowerBook Duo computers were introduced which featured incremental improvements, including color screens, but by mid-decade, most other companies had copied the majority of the PowerBook's features, and Apple was unable to regain their lead.
This remained the story until interim CEO Steve Jobs turned his eye to the redesign of the PowerBook series in 2000. The result was a completely re-designed unit built on a titanium chassis, with a huge 15.2" wide-aspect screen suitable for watching widescreen movies. Built on the power of the PowerPC G4 processor, it was billed as the first supercomputer notebook in the world. It was lighter than most PC based laptops, and due to the low power consumption of the PowerPC it outlasted them by hours.
The TiBooks, as they became known, have become a fashion item. They are especially popular in the entertainment business, where they adorn many desks in Hollywood. They have also made some inroads into the desktop market as well, thanks to their large screen. Many other laptop manufacturers followed suit and imitated aspects of the design, such as the silvery metallic casing.
The Titanium Powerbooks were released in configurations of 400, 500, 550, 667, 800 and 1000 MHz.
Later in 2003, the 15" PowerBooks were redesigned, and now feature the same aluminum body as their smaller and larger siblings.