red escape
Thursday, August 31, 2023 - 2:00 AM

One Manilla Envelope

Written by Matt Maurer

Recently we passed the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the original MacBook Air. It was billed as the “world’s thinnest notebook” - and it blew everyone away when Steve Jobs pulled it out of a regular manilla envelope.

I fondly remember watching the livestream of Macworld and struggling to believe my eyes. We were still coming off the high of the previous year’s introduction of the iPhone. now it was being followed up with a futuristic laptop that seemed impossible, and in a way it was.

The original MacBook Air was slow and had a low res screen. The world still delivered a lot of software on disc at the time, and so were most movies. However, the inspiration for this article was an old Steve Jobs quote that encapsulated Apple during those golden days, but especially the MacBook Air.

He said “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been. And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.”

The MacBook Air was Apple skating to where the puck was going to be. If anything they were early, but that was the glory of the second Steve Jobs era at Apple. They had such a feeling of inspiration and really gambled on their vision of the future. Today, all of our laptops are super thin, without disc drives and have SSDs. The MacBook Air was really the first vision of that. The original iPhone, while a far cry from our modern mobile phones, was a shot in the dark of where things would (or should) go. The MacBook air was equally as bold of a reinterpretation of the laptop.

To sum up Steve’s legacy, I think that quotes embodies how I see it more than any other. He had such a profound vision of where technology should be going, and he was able to drive his teams to build it.

Today’s Apple feels focused on building a seamless experience for users. And it does a wonderful job, don’t get me wrong. I love the eco-system and how great everything (usually) works together.

We were definitely spoiled with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air all coming within a decade of each other though. That pace of innovation isn’t sustainable over the long term, but I can’t wait for the next time Apple decides to make a big splash and show us where they think things are going. Right or wrong, those are the exciting times that really push things forward.

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