iBook Turns 20: Watch Steve Jobs Unveil the World's First Notebook With Wireless Internet

Upon returning to Apple in the late 1990s, Steve Jobs came up with a 2×2 product grid in an effort to simplify Apple's then-bloated lineup of computers. The grid was split into four quadrants, including a professional desktop, a consumer desktop, a professional portable, and a consumer portable.

steve jobs
Today marks the 20th anniversary of Jobs unveiling the fourth and final product in the grid, the iBook, at the 1999 Macworld Expo in New York City.

Targeted at consumers and students, the iBook easily stood out from other notebooks of its era with its unique clamshell-like design, consisting of hard, translucent plastic casing topped with soft, colorful rubber. Initial colors included Blueberry and Tangerine, with later models available in Graphite, Indigo, and Key Lime.

ibook blueberry
The original iBook, priced from $1,599, was equipped with a 12.1-inch display with an 800×600 resolution, a full-sized keyboard, and a trackpad. It also featured a retractable handle along its hinge, with Apple calling it an "iMac to go," although it was decently heavy at 6.7 pounds — even for its time.

ibook imac to go
Above all, the iBook was the first mass consumer product with support for wireless networking, with the 802.11b standard allowing for speeds up to 11 Mbps. Wireless support was not built in and required purchasing an optional $99 AirPort wireless card and a $299 AirPort base station.

Jobs demonstrated the iBook's wireless networking by walking across the stage with the notebook while loading a website, with the audience erupting in cheers. He then placed it through a hula hoop to prove there were no cables attached.


Memorably, a younger Phil Schiller even jumped from a height while holding the iBook as it wirelessly transferred accelerometer data. Referencing the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, Schiller quipped "this is definitely one small step for man, and one giant leap for wireless networking."


Other tech specs included a 300MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 3.2GB hard drive, 32MB of RAM, ATI Rage Mobility graphics, 10/100 Ethernet, a CD-ROM drive, and up to six hours of battery life. To keep costs down, it had no FireWire port, video out, or microphone, and only one speaker and one USB port.

Apple went on to introduce a redesigned iBook with a more traditional notebook design in May 2001, followed by the white polycarbonate MacBook in 2006, but the original will always be an important part of Apple's history.

Last year, YouTubers iJustine and MKBHD teamed up to unbox an original, sealed iBook:


For more nostalgia:

We invite any readers who still own an iBook to share a photo in the comments section.

Related Forum: PowerPC Macs

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
apple watch series 9 display

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 10 to Get Larger Screen and Thinner Design

Monday June 17, 2024 1:20 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner and come in larger screen sizes than previous models, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his latest industry note -10-and-98075c44ce92">shared on Medium, Kuo said the screen size options on the next-generation Apple Watch will increase from 41mm to 45mm, and from 45mm to 49mm, while being encased in a thinner design. For reference,...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
Apple Pay Later feature 1

Apple Discontinuing Apple Pay Later

Monday June 17, 2024 11:44 am PDT by
Apple is discontinuing Apple Pay Later, the buy now, pay later feature that it just launched last October. Apple Pay Later is being discontinued as of today, but people who have existing Apple Pay Later loans will be able to continue to pay them off and manage them through the Wallet app. Apple announced plans to end the feature in a statement provided to 9to5Mac, which also notes that...
iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
iPod Nano vs iPod Pro Ad Feature 1

Apple Developing Thinner MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone

Monday June 17, 2024 2:22 am PDT by
Apple intends to slim down the MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone, with the new ultra-thin M4 iPad Pro a sign of the company's new design trajectory, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. When the M4 iPad Pro was unveiled last month, Apple touted it as the company's thinnest product ever, and even compared it to the 2012 iPod nano to emphasize its slim dimensions. Writing in the latest ...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...

Top Rated Comments

mdm3 Avatar
64 months ago
Fired mine up in honour of the day. I had forgotten how heavy they were.

Attachment Image
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DRDR Avatar
64 months ago
The differences between Steve Jobs (enthusiasm, love for detail, free talking) and Tim Cook are pretty obvious.
Score: 58 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NightFox Avatar
64 months ago
Would love to see a product grid for today's line up, but I think we might run out of shapes and dimensions.
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsmilo Avatar
64 months ago
And today we still don’t have LTE built into a laptop. Why is that?
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NickName99 Avatar
64 months ago
And today we still don’t have LTE built into a laptop. Why is that?
On my MacBook Pro I just select my phone in the WiFi list, and it connects via my iPhone’s LTE. I don’t even have to take my iPhone out of my pocket.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
64 months ago
The first laptop with wireless networking? Tim Cook take a hint, that's what innovation is.

Animojis are not innovation.
Yet the FaceID technology behind it most certainly is.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)