It’s taken a couple of years but Lenovo is planning to release a retro-styled ThinkPad that brings back the style of the 1990s with 21st century computing power. If it’s really like the ThinkPads of old, it will be a very robust computer with the best keyboard on the market and be able to withstand some heavy duty action – those computers were built to last.
First announced a couple of years ago, the new retro ThinkPad will mark the 25th anniversary of the ThinkPad.
While all the speeds and feeds are still under wraps – Lenovo doesn’t comment on unreleased products – the existence of the device was revealed during an event in New York.
David Hill, one of the principle designers of the ThinkPad said, in a recent blog post, the new ThinkPad will be branded with the old multi-coloured logo. He said:
It has a wonderful black rubberized coating, three TrackPoint caps, and a keyboard to die for. I will proudly carry one.
The first corporate laptop I ever had was a ThinkPad, then made by IBM before they sold their PC business to Lenovo. When it came to portable computing, the ThinkPad was the peak of design experimentation. During my three years working at a large dairy company I was fortunate enough to use several different ThinkPads. A couple really stood out.
The IBM ThinkPad 701c was famous for its “butterfly” keyboard. Released in 1995, this computer had a 10.4-inch display. In order for IBM to fit a full keyboard into this small body, they separated it into two halves. When you flipped the LCD open, the keyboard opened out and the two halves joined delivering a full-sized keyboard that hung over the edges of the computer’s chassis. It was like magic.
The other was the ThinkPad 755CDV. Like the 701c, it also had a 10.4-inch display. But, and remember this was in the day when a projector for presentations was about as large as an ICBM and cost thousands of dollars, the back of the screen snapped off and you could place the 755CDV on to an overhead projector. The light from the projector would pass though the LCD and be displayed up on a big screen.
While we talk about innovation, back in the 1990s the notion of the modern laptop computer was still evolving. IBM was a huge part of the evolution of portable computing. It’ll be interesting to see how Lenovo’s ’90s throwback compares.