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Monday, May 30, 2005

History of Laptop Computers

By: Cody Kahl

Have you ever wondered where the sleek new portable PC’s of today came from? How did they get so small, and so fast? It’s true that modern notebook computers have undergone many changes throughout the years.

In this article I will attempt to put together a rough history and timeline based on the laptop computer. I say rough because no one can really put a finger on who developed the first mobile computer. Anyways, let’s get started!

Computer buffs may not know who created the first laptop, but most will agree that Alan Kay of the Xerox Palo Alto research center was the first to come up with the idea of the portable PC in the 1970’s. Kay envisioned a portable computer much like the ones found today – Something small and lightweight that anyone could afford. (continued...)

Some say that the first notebook that was actually built in 1979 by William Moggridge who was with Grid Systems Corp. It featured 340 kilobytes of memory, a folding screen, and was made of metal (magnesium). This was hardly like the laptop computers found today, but it was a start.

Arguably, the next mobile computer produced was in 1983 by Gavilan Computers. This laptop featured 64 – 128 megabytes of memory, a touchpad mouse, and even a portable printer. Weighing in at 9 pounds without the printer, this computer was actually only a few pounds heavier than notebooks found today.

Gavilan later failed largely due to their computer being incompatible with other computers – Mainly because the Gavilan laptop used their own operating system.

Apple Computers introduced the apple IIc model in 1984, but it wasn’t all that much better than what Gavilan had produced a year earlier. It did feature an optional LCD panel which had on impact on later notebooks.

Finally in 1986 a true laptop was created by IBM called the IBM PC Convertible. I say “true” because unlike a few of the others, this laptop didn’t have to be setup everywhere. And unlike the others it featured two modern 3.5 inch floppy drives, and space for an internal modem! Also found on the Convertible was an LCD screen and basic applications the user could use to create word documents, and schedule appointments.

Maybe most interesting was that the IBM PC Convertible sold for $3500! Of course you would be hard pressed to find that price tag on any laptop these days – (They have gone way down).

Since the late 80’s many manufacturers have come forward to produce new machines that are even faster and more powerful than their previous counterparts. These days the buyer has a lot of choice, and laptops are faster than ever.

About the Author

Cody Kahl is creator and writer of Toshiba Laptops Guide – A site
dedicated to providing only the best toshiba laptop computers information.