A Brief History of Laptops

The idea of Laptop came as early as the late 1960 with the Dynabook, but this Tablet PC was mainly for children.

There was no real commercial incentive to develop a truly portable computer, (and it was thought to be unpractical in any case), so, it was not until much later, with new developments in transistors and processors, that the laptop was considered as something more than a child’s toy.

It was in the early 80s that the first truly portable computer was developed, the Osborne 1 did not have any batteries, (it had to be plugged in), but at least the data and computer could be transported.

A couple of years later, in 1982, the Compaq computers were released.

It is widely accepted that the Compaq was not much better than the Osborn 1 but because it was using the new popular MS-DOS operating system, (used on most IBM computers at the time), it proved an instant success.

A year latter Epson announced the first truly portable computer with a nickel battery. The Epson was more like an advanced calculator with only 80 characters displayed at any one time.

The Compass 1101 also introduced around the same time is credited for giving us the, now familiar, design of the laptop computer with the screen folded shut over the keyboard.

In 1984 the Gavilan SC and the Sharp PC-500 entered the market, with the Gavilan been the first to introduce the concept of laptop, (and a basic pointing device).

1984 also saw the arrival of the Kyocera Kyotronic 85, it was small and offered many applications such as a word processor, a modem or Spreadsheet and it was very popular indeed.

By the end of the 1980s many laptop manufacturers had developed fairly similar machines. All about ranging from the size of an A4 page to an A3. Most notably the NEC Ultralite, the Cambridge Z88 and the IBM PC Convertible. The Compaq LTE introduced the concept of a portable hard drive, (until that time the operating system was stored on ROM and Floppy drives were used).

By the beginning of the 1990s the look and feel of the laptop was defined by the Apple computers, (built in trackball, keyboard and Palm rest). Not to be outdone the IBM Thinkpad 700C introduced the TrackPoint a year later.

Since the mid-90’s only technology has improved the laptop computers. Longer lasting batteries as well as huge hard drives now make the Laptop a serious challenger for the desktop.

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