Macintosh Portable Ejecting a Disk in Space [Video]

Dec 3, 2011 - 6 Comments

This is a Macintosh Portable in SPACE!

In 1991, astronauts took a Macintosh Portable aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-43, and amongst other things, it became the first computer to send an email in space. A slightly less historical aspect is this fairly entertaining video clip from that mission, demonstrating the Macintosh Portable’s disk ejection system, which works perhaps a little too well in zero gravity.

In the video, an astronaut says the following while observing the amusing result of a gravity-free disk ejection:

“…We’ve got a phenomena that we’ve noticed since we’ve gotten into orbit here. The automatic disk ejection system that the Mac has, as you can see when we get rid of these disks, we’re going to have to pay attention to where they go.”

You absolutely must watch the video embedded below to see the effect, the quality is a bit low resolution due to it being video from 1991, but it’s well worth the 15 seconds:

According to Apple, the Macintosh Portable was taken into space to serve four primary purposes:

  1. Testing four cursor control devices in space; the built-in trackball, a modified aircraft control stick, a 2″ trackball, and an optical mouse
  2. Connecting to AppleLink, sending mail and files, and sending the very first email from space
  3. Record medical experiment results
  4. Track the space shuttle flight path

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about this (and seriously, who isn’t? It’s the first Mac in space!) you can read additional details on Apple’s website here.

A big thanks to Tom Gilley, who worked on the project, for some added tidbits left in our comments!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Fun, Mac, Retro


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  1. Tom Gilley says:

    Paul Donnovan “Nipper”, Steve Young “Steveo” and Tom Gilley (me) worked on this project. some info here’ couple of other tidbits, the trackback locking ring needed to be super glued to prevent a loose part and the biggest modification is the gel lead acid battery was replaced with then new nickelā€“metal hydride NiMH with a new charging circuit.

    • Paul says:

      Tom, this is fantastic, thanks for the added details! I made a quick update to the article to reflect some additional project info, thanks again.

  2. adam says:

    A Old Video, but so good :)

  3. Chip says:

    Thats F-ing AWESOME!

  4. Joseph says:

    Space makes everything so much cooler!

  5. Kazooey says:

    The real reason Apple abandoned disk drives is finally revealed: SPACE TRAVEL!

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