1992: The IBM Thinkpad 700
With its distinctive black casework, and the introduction of the pointing nipple, the Thinkpad proved to be a very popular and reliable laptop. Launched in mono and color versions, the 700 and 700C sported 25MHz Intel 486SLC processors and 4, 8 or 16GB of RAM. The screens were either a 9.5in, 640 x 480 monochrome or 10.4in, 640 x 480 active-matrix color unit. At launch mono was $2750, color $4350.
Designed by Richard Sapper, and modeled after a Japanese Bento Box apparently, the sleek black form is instantly recognizable.
Also on 5 October 1992, IBM also introduced the ThinkPad 300, actually made by Zenith Data Systems. It was powered by a 25MHz 386SL processor and fitted with a monochrome 640 x 480 display. It’s only redeeming feature was a very long battery life – 10 hours or so. Otherwise you didn’t want it.
So why does the Thinkpad get a mention in a rugged portable list? Well, it was the only laptop certified for use on the international space station in 2003 – and that’s good enough for me! IBM also loaned early units to deserving or interesting causes for marketing purposes -from Wikipedia: IBM even worked with archaeologists excavating the ancient Egyptian city of Leontopolis to field test the ThinkPad. The device was loaned to the dig team for the summer. The resulting report documented the ThinkPad’s excellent performance under difficult conditions. The report said, “The ThinkPad is an impressive machine, rugged enough to be used without special care in the worst conditions Egypt has to offer”
Thinkpad Systems Reference contains all of the detailed specifications for the 300, 700 and many more.
Lenovo purchased the IBM personal computer business in 2005 – since then all Thinkpads have been made by and branded Lenovo. Now that they have bought Motorola, Lenovo are making a habit of purchasing iconic American brands.
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