Luggables offered complete computing. Flat-tops were affordable and lightweight. By 1982, some of the best features of both had merged into the familiar laptop form.
Though not as light or as inexpensive as flat-tops, laptops ran standard desktop computer programs. And they added an innovative new ingredient: large screens hinged to cover the keyboard, reducing overall size and providing protection while offering a usable display for serious work.
Within a dozen years, as laptops became increasingly powerful and affordable, they evolved from specialty machines to everyday tools.
The full-featured Gavilan was billed as a desktop PC replacement, with optional portable printer. Innovations included the trackpad (uncommon until a decade later), and a graphical interface running on top of a partly PC-compatible version of MS-DOS.View Artifact Detail
At a demonstration, GRiD’s CEO John Ellenby had his Compass flat on the table in front of him. Adam Osborne and other presenters didn’t realize it was a computer until he opened it.View Artifact Detail
The Gavilan was an early “clamshell” battery-powered laptop with a hinged screen that covered the keyboard when not in use. It ran Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system, but it was only partly compatible with the IBM PC.View Artifact Detail
Good Design, Good Looks…Good Business!
Laptops were created to be useful. Smart design eventually made them fashionable, transforming workday tools into chic, coveted consumer items.
Apple’s PowerBook series helped lead the way, marrying innovative ideas with the Macintosh operating system. It pioneered placing the trackball or trackpad in front of the keyboard, leaving space on either side to rest one’s wrists so that people could indeed use laptops on their laps. This concept was adopted almost universally.
IBM’s matte black ThinkPad series mixed elegant styling with another interface first, the Trackpoint joystick.
The ThinkPad’s success established a durable brand that was later sold to Lenovo in China. The expanding keyboard was a design triumph, but was soon made unnecessary by wider computers designed around larger screens.View Artifact Detail