Apple History: 20 Years Ago Today, Apple Unveiled The World's 'Fastest Powerbook'


On this day 20 years ago, Apple launched the PowerBook 3400, advertised as the world's fastest notebook computer. Boasting impressive specifications of the time, the PowerBook 3400 was meant to be the company's comeback after a brief period of setbacks.

Though the 3400's run was short lived, it did pave the way for Apple's eventual success and was a good comeback for its returning CEO Steve Jobs.

Claiming to be maker of the world's "fastest computer" isn't an easy claim for any company, but if anyone can do it, Apple can. Back in 1997, just as Apple had recently gotten Jobs back home, the company released what it claimed to be a superior notebook computer to surpass all other computers on the market at the time.

In fact, going beyond the claim that the 3400 is the fastest computer, Apple even went so far as to say that it could very well be the best.

Superior 90s Notebook

It is easy to see how the PowerBook 3400 could have been tagged as the world's fastest computer. In the 1990s, internet usage was just beginning to turn mainstream, and notebook computers were still significantly far from desktop computers.

But the 3400 was truly a marvelous creation, especially coming from a company that had been struggling for a couple of years. In this regard, Apple's comeback notebook really aimed to impress with its groundbreaking specifications, which had many fans excited.

The 3400, nicknamed Hooper, showcased a wide 12.1-inch screen perfect for watching Quicktime movies and surfing the internet. It boasts an onboard RAM of 16 MB, a hard drive of up to 3 GB, an optical drive and a floppy drive for all your floppy disc needs. It was packed with a PowerPC 603e processor, able to run at speeds up to 240 MHz. The PCI-based notebook was the first to use the 1 MB IrDA Infra-red standard.

A Short-Lived Comeback

Though the specifications of the 3400 do not sound like much at all — and some younger folks might not even know what a floppy disc is — they were signals of a truly powerful device worthy to be presented as a comeback machine. It was, however, a short-lived comeback as Apple pulled the device from shelves after just a mere 10 months on the market.

Many see the short-lived comeback as a result of the transition phase after Jobs regained his position as Apple CEO. The group did, however, make a more successful and influential return with the release of the eye-catching, colorful, and widely popular iBook just two years later.

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