Aluminium Powerbook G4
At the risk of sounding like that movie trailer guy, in a world of darkness the G4 Powerbook changed everything. The PC laptops around me were black-clad hunks of junk. The G4 Powerbook looked like it had come from a superior civilisation. Photographs don’t do it justice: it’s one of those designs that you really needed to see in the metal. It was (still is) an astonishingly beautiful computer, and its DNA is visible in today’s MacBook Pros and Airs.
This was the first OS X-only laptop (the titanium one could boot into OS 9) and the last PowerPC model: the MacBook Pro was an Intel affair. It wasn’t perfect – third-party RAM tended to be flaky and the batteries were a little on the explodey side – but it was still pretty wonderful.
I took my Powerbook everywhere. I used it in recording studios and on radio shows, wrote millions of words on it and took it to meet its relatives in US Apple Stores. It even appeared on TV a few times, as I pretended to type on it during news items about hacking. At the time it was the most expensive computer I’d ever bought, but nothing I’ve bought before or since delivered quite as much bang for my bucks. And then it went bang – or rather, “bleuurgh.” After years of dedicated service, first as my work computer and then as the family computer, my daughter decided to re-enact The Exorcist. I wasn’t there, and by the time I found out about it the vomit had hardened to the point where no human-designed implement could even put a dent in it. Like Han Solo in carbonite, the G4 Powerbook was locked solid in baby carbonara. It’s been like that ever since, and I miss it terribly. I’m sure that if I’d told it that I loved it, it would have replied like just Han: “I know”.