History of Laptops

Posted by on Jan 14, 2012 in Recent | Comments Off on History of Laptops

Before laptop/notebook computers were technically feasible, similar ideas had been proposed, most notably Alan Kay’s Dynabook concept,  developed at Xerox PARC in the early 1970s. What was probably the first portable computer was the Xerox NoteTaker, again developed at Xerox PARC, in 1976. However, only 10 prototypes were built. Osborne 1 An opened Osborne 1 computer, ready for use. The keyboard sits on the inside of the lid. The first commercially available portable computer was the Osborne 1 in 1981, which used the CP/M operating system. Although it was large and heavy compared to today’s laptops, with a tiny 5″ CRT monitor, it had a near-revolutionary impact on business, as professionals were able to take their computer and data with them for the first time. This and other “luggables” were inspired by what was probably the first portable computer, the Xerox NoteTaker. The Osborne was about the size of a portable sewing machine, and more importantly, could be carried on commercial aircraft. However, it was not possible to run the Osborne on batteries.[citation needed] Bondwell 2 Although it wasn’t released until 1985, well after the decline of CP/M as a major operating system, the Bondwell 2 is one of only a handful of CP/M laptops. It used a Z-80 CPU running at 4 MHz, had 64 K RAM and, unusual for a CP/M machine, a 3.5″ floppy disk drive built in. It had a 80×25 character-based LCD mounted on a hinge similar to modern laptops, one of the first computers to use this form factor. Other CP/M laptops The other CP/M laptops were the Epson PX-4 (or HX-40) and PX-8 (Geneva), The NEC PC-8401A, and the NEC PC-8500. These four units, however, utilized modified CP/M systems in ROM, and did not come standard with any floppy or hard disks. Compaq Portable A more enduring success was the Compaq Portable, the first product from Compaq, introduced in 1983, by which time the IBM Personal Computer had become the standard platform. Although scarcely more portable than the Osborne machines, and also requiring AC power to run, it ran MS-DOS and was the first true legal IBM clone (IBM’s own later Portable Computer, which arrived in 1984, was notably less IBM PC-compatible than the Compaq[citation needed] Epson HX-20 Another significant machine announced in 1981, although first sold widely in 1983, was the Epson HX-20. A simple handheld computer, it featured a full-transit 68-key keyboard, rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, a small (120×32-pixel) dot-matrix LCD display with 4 lines of text, 20 characters per line text mode, a 24 column dot matrix printer, a Microsoft BASIC interpreter, and 16 KB of RAM (expandable to 32 KB). GRiD Compass However, arguably the first true laptop was the GRiD Compass 1101, designed by Bill Moggridge in 1979-1980, and released in 1982. Enclosed in a magnesium case, it introduced the now familiar clamshell design, in which the flat display folded shut against the keyboard. The computer could be run from batteries, and was equipped with a 320×200-pixel electroluminescent display and 384 kilobyte bubble memory. It was not IBM-compatible, and its high price (US$8,000–10,000) limited it to specialized applications. However, it was used heavily by the U.S. military, and by NASA on the Space Shuttle during the 1980s. The GRiD’s manufacturer subsequently earned significant returns on its patent rights...

read more