Back 2008 January 15 (opens in a new tab), Apple unveiled the MacBook Air, and then-CEO Steve Jobs took the laptop out of its envelope to show how “thin” the theme of this new Mac would be. I had one between 2013 and 2021 before it finally gave up the ghost.
Around this time, netbooks were a passing craze that had 8-inch displays with cheap Intel processors for around $299 / £349, and many wanted Apple to follow suit even before the iPad was possible.
However, the original 2008 MacBook Air was seen as a better alternative for users who just wanted to simplify their workflow. The Wayback Machine saved a great page from Apple’s website (opens in a new tab) at a time when wireless and slim were the two goals of this company’s laptop.
Housing just one USB 2.0 port, a video-out port to support external monitors, and a MagSafe power connector, all hidden in a small hinge, it would become the template for how Apple would try to adopt thinness in most of its products until they won out with the 14-inch MacBook Pro in 2021 with plenty of ports and a focus on performance over style.
My air: 2013-2021
I’ve owned a Mac since 2006 when the first Intel Core Duo-based iMac came out, marking the processor’s transition from PowerPC to Intel. Over the years, I switched to a 2010 MacBook Pro and then a MacBook Air in 2013, which helped me complete my university course after using an iPad 3 the previous year. I needed something more powerful.
By this time, the GPU had reached a point where playing BioShock Infinite and Batman: Arkham City was no problem, with memory increasing from 80GB in 2008 to 256GB.
While the MacBook Pro gained a Retina display back in June 2012 (opens in a new tab)Air didn’t have this feature until 2018, but I didn’t mind – speed and reliability were my goals here, and Air provided it in droves.
Eventually though, when I graduated from university and took on some full-time IT jobs in what feels like a former life, the Air became a machine I used less, replaced with my even thinner and lighter iPad, so it pretty much became a backup machine.
Eventually the battery and the hard drive died – for example, the Air reached 40% charge and suddenly turned off. In 2021, the hard drive finally failed, only booting into recovery mode, failing to find 256GB of storage, and now remains in the box as a relic.
The Mac Renaissance
But all this time, the Mac has been going through some tough patches, which also made me refrain from buying a new Mac. The Butterfly Keyboard and TouchBar weren’t worth the upgrade for me, and macOS didn’t fit my needs – but the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro did.
Although my Air was a backup machine, I still loved its design and keyboard. Whenever I needed to edit a podcast or run an app that didn’t work on iOS, for example, Air would come up.
It wasn’t until the 14-inch MacBook Pro came out that I decided to go back to macOS, and I’ve never been happier to own a Mac – its design, ports and keyboard are all running home for me, while this iPad Pro is now in the hands of a fellow developer to test his application.
But the MacBook Air has always been the machine that set the standard for what a laptop should be to me – from its portability to its long battery life and great physical appearance. The M2 MacBook Air is one of the best laptops you can get right now if you don’t need the extra power of a MacBook Pro, and every time I see it in the Apple Store I get a wave of nostalgia – I remember trying to write a dissertation in the Nottingham library about 3am in 2014 on my old MacBook Air.
Long live Air – and I also hope Apple never changes the keyboard again.