MacBook Air Turns 15 Today: 'The World's Thinnest Notebook'

Today marks the 15th anniversary of Steve Jobs pulling the MacBook Air out of a manila envelope at the 2008 Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Apple advertised the MacBook Air as being "the world's thinnest notebook" at the time.

Steve Jobs Introducing MacBook Air 2
"We've built the world's thinnest notebook—without sacrificing a full-size keyboard or a full-size 13-inch display," said Jobs, in a January 2008 press release announcing the MacBook Air. "When you first see MacBook Air, it's hard to believe it's a high-performance notebook with a full-size keyboard and display. But it is."

The original 13-inch MacBook Air featured a flip-down tray on the right side of the machine that provided access to a single USB port, a headphone jack, and a Micro-DVI port for connecting an external display. It was Apple's first notebook with a multi-touch trackpad, no CD/DVD drive, and an SSD upgrade option. Pricing started at $1,799 in the U.S. with a 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive.

Apple released a completely redesigned MacBook Air with the M2 chip last July and continues to sell an older version with the M1 chip. Given the power efficiency of Apple silicon chips, the MacBook Air is no longer equipped with a fan. While the original MacBook Air measured 0.16-inches at its thinnest point and 0.76-inches at its thickest, the latest MacBook Air has a flatter design with a uniform thickness of 0.44 inches.

Rumors suggest a larger 15-inch MacBook Air will launch this year, and the notebook is expected to be updated with an OLED display next year.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

jdoyle Avatar
9 months ago
Maccbook Air was Classic Jobs. Incredible piece of engineering and design. 15 years later they still use the same wedge design in the M1 Chip Air.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
9 months ago

Demanding your engineers come up with an impossible solution (a powerful laptop in a package as thin as an envelope), can lead them to actually figure that that it was not so impossible after all.
The MBA concept wasn't technically impossible. It simply required tradeoffs that one normally wouldn't consider in a laptop (could you imagine a laptop without a cd-drive or ports back then?). And therein lay the irony. Nobody in their right mind would ever make those sacrifices for fear of alienating customers (try explaining to users why your product cost twice as much while lacking a lot of functionality).

Apple's strength was in their ability to tell users "We believe this one feature is worth more than every other drawback combined", and they often turned out to be more right than wrong, and people were willing to buy in to their vision. Many people preferred a thinner and lighter computer, and were perfectly willing to give up features once thought indispensable.

And the rest as we know it is history.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
muasachi Avatar
9 months ago
It was a truly love at first sight!
My 15 years old first-gen Macbook Air built-to-order with SSD is still working fine with Snow Leopard.
Can’t believe I spent so much back in the day.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr Fusion Avatar
9 months ago
I owned a 2011 13” MBA. For a decade, this product line suffered from severely under-powered integrated Intel GPUs (watch an HD YouTube video and after a few minutes, the fans’ll be loud enough to drown out max volume. ?) I swore off iGPUs after that experience.

In 2022 I returned to the M2 MBA and couldn’t be happier! I’m glad Apple stuck with this design concept through the years and its paid off with creating the best laptop I’ve ever owned. ??☺️
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
EgbertAttrick Avatar
9 months ago

I think Bill Burr's description of Steve Jobs is pretty accurate, as someone who just yells 'I want my phone, my iPod, my agenda, in THAT. Now GET ON IT!", while taking credit for all the actual hard work the engineers do.

But somehow that's still essential in breaking through boundaries. Jobs may have had unrealistic visions, and lived in a 'reality distortion field', but sometimes it turns out that those visions are not so unrealistic.

Demanding your engineers come up with an impossible solution (a powerful laptop in a package as thin as an envelope), can lead them to actually figure that that it was not so impossible after all.

Sometimes I feel this 'unrealistic' vision of Jobs is what's missing from Apple these days. Boundary breaking innovation, rather than spec bumps and improvements that almost everyone could see were possible.
He didn’t live in a reality distortion field; he created it.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tranceking26 Avatar
9 months ago
I love my M1 Air.

Can only imagine how cool it must have been to see him do that in person.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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