Apple Macintosh Powerbook 150 | Ding des Monats January 2021

Thing of the Month January 2021
Apple Macintosh Powerbook 150

Apple Macintosh Powerbook 150

Macintosh Powerbook 150, Apple Computer Inc., 1994. Collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin. Photo: Armin Hermann.

"Not many who use the apparatus know what havoc its appearance once caused in families. The sound with which it struck [...] was an alarm signal that endangered not only the midday rest of my parents but the age in whose heart they embraced it." 

In these words, Walter Benjamin recalls the introduction of private telephones in his "Berlin Childhood around 1900." The observation reminds us that technical innovations can always mean both facilitations and new challenges and tasks. In times when working from home is gaining in importance due to the pandemic, this means above all that while advancing technology is making work increasingly easier, at the same time working hours and the workplace are increasingly merging with private life. Benjamin also points out how quickly the impact of a technological innovation is forgotten when it seems natural to us. 

The first Thing of the Month in the new year exemplifies this development: the Macintosh PowerBook 150 from Apple, on display in our permanent exhibition. Launched in 1994, the plastic-cased computer was comparatively inexpensive for its time, with a price tag of about $1500. Its weight of 2.6 kilos made it easy to transport even back then, though a computing power of 33 MHz and a RAM of 4 to 40 MB seem low today.