A look back at Apple's last 12-inch laptop

The new MacBook isn't Apple's first 12-inch laptop. Look back at Apple's last 12-incher.

I'm really looking forward to the new MacBook for a whole host of reasons. The 12-inch Retina display is one of them. For Mac users of the current era, 12 inches sounds like an odd size — everything's either 11, 13 or 15 inches these days. But Apple's had that particular size in its roster before. The last time Apple made such a beast was a decade ago: The 2005 12-inch PowerBook G4 model was discontinued in 2006, as Apple migrated from PowerPC to Intel processors.

In his Think Retro column for Macworld.com, Chris Phin fondly remembers the 12-inch PowerBook G4.

Before it was announced in January 2003, anyone buying a laptop realistically had to decide between capability and portability, but with the 12-inch PowerBook G4, you felt for the first time like you could have both: a powerful machine easily able to be your main Mac, in a tiny, chuck-it-in-a-bag frame.

I never had the pleasure of owning a 12-inch PowerBook. At about that time I made a conscious decision to do all of my work on a laptop, so I decided that the 17-inch was the right size for me. I still prefer larger, heavier-duty laptops like my current daily driver, a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

Having said all that, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 was a great little machine, beautifully designed — like an alyoominium-clad iBook, but considerably better-equipped.

One feature of the 12-inch PowerBook G4 (and other machines of the era) thing I wish Apple included with its MacBooks today: A removable battery. If you've ever taken a modern MacBook model apart, you know why it's not feasible: Apple crams almost every bit of open space inside the chassis with battery, rather than making it a module you can just remove. And yeah, the new MacBook won't be any different on that count. Apple's designed new battery cells that are layered and sandwiched together to fit inside the new design.