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A Brief History of the Laptop Computer

The history of the laptop computer

Looking back at past laptop models, it is almost impossible to believe how quickly technology has developed. Once cumbersome pieces of equipment, laptops are now available in a range of highly portable, (and stylish,) designs.


The historical development of the laptop

1981-The Osborne 1

The Osborne 1 was the first portable computer which became a commercial success. However, weighing in at 23.5 pounds and resembling a cumbersome case its potential for travel was limited. It also came equipped with a proportionally tiny screen which lacked the ability to display a full sentence, even with the inventive capacities of the WordStar word processor.      


                                                                            

1982-The Compaq Portable

The Compaq was the fist MS-DOS based and IBM PC compatible machine to improve and enlarge the screen on the earlier Osborne 1 model. It played a primary role in making the PC a standard product of cross manufacturing rather than the workmanship of monopolies.                     


1982-The Grid Compass 1100 

The Grid Compass model was perhaps one of the first clamshell model laptops equipped with a screen that was able to fold back down onto the body. Priced at $10,000 it was not accessible to the mass market but NASA used it on their space shuttle facilities.

 
 

1983-The Epson HX-20 

 The Epson laptop was likely the first battery operated portable computer sold to the public. It perhaps weighed less than modern models and could easily be fit into a carry case , however, the screen it came equipped with was inefficiently small.

 

1989-The Poqet PC 

The Poqet was a small, light, (weighting in at 1.5 pounds,) laptop which ran on AA batteries. It ran on MS-DOS, the primary operating system of the period. 

1991-The Apple Powerbook 100

The 100 model was the first to carry the title, “Powerbook.” It was also the first machine to incorporate a trackball as a pointer at the foot of the keyboard where most modern laptops now have a flat navigation pad.

  

1992-The IBM Thinkpad 700C 

With the increased popularity of Windows a mouse became an essential feature of a laptop. Thus, in the 700C model, IBM incorporated their branded pointing device, the Trackpoint. The machine’s 10.4 inch colour screen was also a groundbreaking technological development.

 

1994-The Apple Powerbook 500 

Both the trackball and IBM specific Trackpoint device proved commercially limited. However, the touchpad utilized in the Apple Powerbook model pictured below became the standard format for most modern machines.

 

1995-The IBM Thinkpad 701

As the mid 90’s approached, Laptops became smaller, devolving into “netbooks” with more compact keyboards. Limited space made accurate typing difficult. In response to this, IBM created the “butterfly keyboard” which expanded to full size when opened. However, since the popularity of netbooks was transitory, this new IBM innovation [pictured below,] disappeared.


1999-The Apple iBook 3G 

 The 3G was the first laptop to integrate Wi-Fi antenna behind the screen thus creating the potential for wireless connection.

2005-The Lenovo X41 Tablet  

The X41 model provided a laptop which could also be converted into a tablet, allowing the user the benefits of both model types. However, as a tablet the X41 was quite heavy and didn’t possess an extraordinary long battery life.


2007-The Asus Eee PC 4G  

Asus built the 4G, a light weight, linux based netbook model as a machine more generally accessible to the public. Before this machine’s development the smaller the laptop the more one was likely to pay. Asus broke this mould by charging just £250 for the 4G netbook.

 

2007-The OLPC XO Laptop  

The OLPC XO laptop was designed for children in the third world. In order to buy one for yourself you were also required to purchase another for donation. The total for both machines was £250

 

2010-The Apple iPad

Whilst the iPad cannot necessarily be regarded as a Laptop, with it, Apple has significantly altered the technological landscape. Perhaps designs such as that pictured below will be the forebears of future developments.

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