Today marks the third anniversary of Apple discontinuing the 12-inch MacBook. The portable notebook was removed from Apple’s online store on July 9, 2019 alongside refreshes to the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro on the same day.
Introduced in March 2015, the 12-inch MacBook featured a thin and light design that weighed just two pounds, and it was also Apple’s first fanless notebook. Pricing started at $1,299, with the original model’s standard specs including a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor, integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
Key design aspects of the 12-inch MacBook included a single USB-C port for charging and data transfer, a then-new Force Touch trackpad, and a terraced battery design that allowed for a larger battery to fit inside the notebook’s thin chassis.
Looking back, it’s amazing what Apple was trying to pull off with the MacBook. It was the first Mac to ship with USB-C and the Force Touch trackpad — both features of the 14-inch MacBook Pro I am using to write this blog post. It brought the Retina display to a non-Pro notebook for the first time.
Then there’s the butterfly keyboard, which first appeared with the MacBook. Its radical new design was needed to keep the MacBook as thin as possible, but the lack of travel ended up being the least of its worries. As the butterfly keyboard slowly spread to other Mac notebooks, its reliability problems spread with it.
On the technical side, the MacBook was — as they say — ahead of its time. The Intel Core M processor Rossignol mentioned was painfully underpowered. While later models did increase in speed, it was clear to many that the Core M was a compromise to keep the MacBook thin, light and silent.
In the lead up to Apple silicon there was a lot of conjecture — including by me — that the 12-inch MacBook would make a great candidate to lead the processor transition. So far, the MacBook hasn’t made a return, but I know a bunch of folks would like to see the line resurrected one more time.