Back in 2008 on January 15th (Opens in a new tab)Apple unveiled the MacBook Air, with then-CEO Steve Jobs taking a laptop out of an envelope to showcase just how “thin” the theme of this new Mac could be. I had one between 2013 and 2021 before it finally gave up the ghost.
Around this time, laptops were a passing craze, sporting 8-inch screens with cheap Intel processors for $299 / £349, and a lot of Apple wanted to follow through, even before the iPad was possible.
However, the original MacBook Air in 2008 was seen as a better alternative for users who just wanted simplicity for their workflow. The Wayback Machine has saved a great page from Apple’s site (Opens in a new tab) At the time, this laptop from the company was intended to be wireless and thin.
It has just one USB 2.0 port, a video out port to support external monitors, and a MagSafe power connector hidden inside a small hinge. This will become a model for how Apple tries to apply thinness to most of its products, even as the 14-inch MacBook Pro in 2021 wins with its many ports and focus. On productivity rather than style.
My Air: 2013-2021
I’ve been a Mac owner since 2006 when the first Intel Core Duo iMac arrived, marking the CPU’s transition from PowerPC to Intel. As the years went by, I upgraded to a 2010 MacBook Pro and then a MacBook Air again in 2013 to help finish college after using an iPad 3 the year before, and I needed something with more power.
By this time the GPU had reached a point where playing BioShock Infinite and Batman: Arkham City wasn’t a problem, and storage had gone from 80GB in 2008 to 256GB.
While the MacBook Pro gained a retina display back in June 2012 (Opens in a new tab)Air won’t get that feature until 2018, but I didn’t mind — speed and reliability were my goals here, and Air delivered on that in droves.
Eventually, when I graduated from university and took on a few full-time IT jobs in what now seems like a former life, the Air became a machine I used less, replaced by the thinner and lighter iPad, so it became my backup machine.
Eventually, its battery and hard drive would fail—the air would reach 40% charge and suddenly turn off, for example. In 2021, the hard drive finally failed, only booting into its recovery mode, couldn’t find 256GB of storage, and now sits in its box as a leftover.
But during this whole time, my Mac has been going through rough patches which also put me off thinking about buying a new Mac. The Butterfly Keyboard and TouchBar weren’t worthwhile upgrades for me, and macOS didn’t fit my needs—but the 2017 iPad Pro 10.5-inch did.
While my Air was a backup machine, I still love its layout and keyboard. Whenever you need to edit a podcast or launch a non-iOS app, for example, the Air comes along.
It wasn’t until the 14-inch MacBook Pro arrived that I decided to return to macOS, and I couldn’t be happier with owning a Mac—its design, ports, and keyboard all work at home for me, while the iPad Pro is now in the hands of a developer friend to test out its apps.
But the MacBook Air is the machine that always sets the standard for what a laptop should be for me — from its portability to its long battery life and great physical design. The M2 MacBook Air is one of the best laptops you can own right now if you don’t need the extra power of a MacBook Pro, and every time I see it in an Apple Store a wave of nostalgia comes up — I remember trying to get a dissertation at Nottingham Library in It’s 3 am in 2014 with my old MacBook Air.
Long live the air – I also hope that Apple will not change the keyboard again.