It is the first battery-powered Macintosh, which garnered significant excitement from critics, but sales to customers were quite low. It featured a fast, sharp, and expensive black-and-white active matrix LCD screen in a hinged design that covered the keyboard when the machine was not in use.
The Portable was one of the early consumer laptops to employ an active matrix panel, and only the most expensive of the initial PowerBook line, the PowerBook 170, used one, due to the high cost. The machine was designed to deliver high performance, at the cost of increased price and weight. The Portable was discontinued in October 1991.