When first introduced in early 2008, the MacBook Air came with an 80 GB hard disk drive (HDD). By late 2008, however, Apple offered two models: one with a 120 GB HDD or one with 128 GB solid state flash storage drive (SSD). This marked the first time Apple offered a notebook using SSD. By 2010, Apple had eliminated the hard disk drive entirely, offering only SSD storage on all its models [source: EveryMac]. Apple noted that the 2010 MacBook Air was "the first of a next generation of notebooks which will replace mechanical hard disks and optical drives with Internet services and solid state flash storage" [source: Apple]. By 2011, Apple was offering 256 GB SSD storage on its MacBook Air models.
So what's the advantage of SSD storage? For one, because SSD is 90 percent lighter than traditional HDD, it makes the computer itself lighter, which fits in with the slimmed-down image of the MacBook Air [source: Apple]. It also allows for faster reading and writing of data, quicker download speeds, a faster wakeup time and longer standby time than hard disk drives. Unlike the old hard drives with a spinning disk, SSD memory uses a static computer chip, meaning it makes less noise and is more resistant to shocks [source: Mearian].
And what about processing power? The first generation MacBook Air used a 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor. By 2011 Apple switched to the new Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, which run faster, offer higher performance and produce better visuals than Intel's previous processors [source: Intel]. As for RAM, the early 2008 models featured only 2 GB, but by 2011 that had doubled to respectable 4 GB [source: EveryMac].
At first glance you might notice that the MacBook Air is a little light on ports -- the slots around the edges where you can plug things in. Most noticeably missing is the CD/DVD drive. But how much longer will those be needed? Most files today can be stored in the cloud or on USB drives or smart cards, and the MacBook Air has ports for those. The Air also features an audio port for plugging in headphones and speakers, a slot for the power cord and a Thunderbolt port, which is an in-out port for high-speed, high-resolution video, audio and data transfer [sources: Apple, Apple].