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Laptops – Changing Inside And Outside Through Our History

Laptops – Changing Inside And Outside Through Our History

Things change. It is one of the constants in life. Unlike the adage, however, they do not necessarily stay the same. This is never more true than in computing. If you can compare old laptops with newer versions, you’ll find a huge difference in looks and power.

Laptops started a millennium ago. This is technically true. We are firmly in 2010 but the first laptop concept started in 1968, firmly within the last millennium(!), with Alan Kay, a computer programming pioneer. He had a vision of a computer that was handheld, light, tablet-like with a screen and a keyboard. He called it the Dynabook. This was the original inspiration of the laptop and it influenced the design accordingly.

Vision could not be produced immediately. There were technical hurdles that had to be overcome. But even though the materials weren’t there, there were companies that still gave it their best shot.

It was IBM, that large influential corporation that produced the first laptop. If laptops weighed 50 lbs. There are lighter desktops today but remember, mainframes were the most common computer at the time. Smaller machines simply did not exist as proper computers. It was announced in 1975 and it had more in common with today’s all-in-one desktop than anything else. Imagine it as a suitcase with a phone like screen and a typewriter keyboard at one end.

After 6 years in 1981, there came a marked improvement. The Osborne 1 was created. It weighed half as much as IBM’s offering. For many people it was the first true laptop. It even had a keyboard that flipped down to reveal a 5-inch screen and floppy disks!

But some argue that the first laptop was the Gavilan SC, which debuted in 1983. For one thing, it looks more like a laptop than the Osborne. It weighed 14 lbs (yay!). It also came with Microsoft-DOS.

For some time laptops copied the Gavilan design. Many companies produced computers that didn’t veer far from it. The first major change from that design occurred in 1991. During that fateful year, Apple released the Powerbook 100. It’s greatest innovation lay in the keyboard. They pushed it back, when it originally rested near the edge. The company laid a palm rest and a trackball before the keypad instead. It became the laptop design that everyone copied.

In the year 2000 when the end of the world was prophesied, Microsoft provided a concept for tablet computers. Basically, it was a laptop with a stylus. It didn’t prove popular in the market except for some niche businesses.

In 2005 when the end of the world was firmly behind, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative announced its goal to give laptops to needy children. The laptop had to be cheap and mass produceable. They envisioned a tiny laptop with a 7.5-inch screen. They basically created the netbook.

While the netbooks made laptops smaller, lighter and cheaper, Apple created a laptop that was lighter and more expensive in 2008. It was called the Macbook Air. They began taking away ports and optical drives. Other manufacturers began making premium ultrathins.

Today, the laptops looks like it will be replaced the tablet – eventually. The laptop still has much life in it and the tablet needs to be developed more. But the tablet is lighter and more convenient. Its not the end of the laptop but things certainly change.