Its not often you find a Apple prototype or even a Mac Portable on eBay, its even rarer to find a prototype Mac Portable.

Apple used to test all their machines in limited runs fitted in clear plastic so that engineers could check for fit of internal components, so to get your hands on one is kinda a privilege.

A rare chance to acquire a holy grail to us prototype collectors! Rarely do clear case prototypes come up on eBay, especially not for computers this rare. I’ve only seen two clear case Portables on eBay. The last one was a couple years ago and sold for nearly $8,000.

This is the original Macintosh Portable, model 5120 which cost $7,300 when released in 1989.

If you’re unfamiliar with clear case protos, there were usually about 10 (or less) of each model made during the design process. They were used by engineers to check for fit of internal components. Nearly all plastic case components are clear plastic, including the handle & internal mounts for components! Like other clear case prototypes I have seen, there is no serial number on the case and the colored Apple logo insets are not present, although the space for them is.

Not unusual for a clear case prototype, especially one that’s more than 20 years old, portions of the case show stress fractures (not cracks you can feel) when viewed at various angles and there’s a fair amount of superficial scuffing/scratching. Other issues to note are that the hinge caps are not locked on, though this may have been intentional (the hinges work fine but can slide off), the spring-loaded handle is not working right on one side (though the case locks shut), and some of the right side plastic exterior (see photos) is broken off and not included.

The auctioneer does point out that the unit is sold “as is” but for the right collector this could be gold.

If prototype hardware is your thing check this Flickr pool.

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