May 16, 1994: Apple Releases First Laptop with Trackpad

by Chris Seibold May 16, 2011

The PowerBook 500 series was notable for several reasons. The prices weren't unusual; the machines went from a semi-modest $2,270 to a wallet busting $4,840. The interesting part was all the firsts. First built in stereo speakers, first PMCIA card, and first NiMH battery.

The really stunning thing, though the importance was probably not noted at the time, was the inclusion of a trackpad. The trackpad had been invented George E. Gerpheide in 1988 but no one had used one to replace the common trackball in laptops.

No one, that is, until Apple licensed the bit of inventive pointing hardware and slapped it in the PowerBook 500 series. The public got its first taste of the trackpad and tiny trackball makers trembled the world over when Apple released the PowerBook 540c on May 16, 1994.


  • Good God.  My mother-in-law still uses one of those for email (Eudora).

    laughingboy had this to say on May 16, 2006 Posts: 2
  • My first laptop, the 520C. I haven’t used a mouse on a laptop or a track ball by choice since!

    James Bain had this to say on May 16, 2007 Posts: 33
  • “The prices weren’t unusual; the machines went from a semi-modest $2,270 to a wallet busting $4,840.”  When you think about that wallet-buster in today’s dollars it would cost $7,345.11 US.  It got worse.  The hot (literally) new PowerBook 5300ce/117 came out at $9,592.45 in today’s dollars.  Apple, chastened by declining sales started offering more reasonable prices in the next few years.  I got my PowerBook 1400c/166 heavily discounted from its original asking price of $4,904.49 in 1998.  It was a great machine that I remember fondly.

    tcarlson had this to say on May 16, 2011 Posts: 1
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