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Luggable’s, Laptop’s, & Love at First Sight: A ‘History’

A Laptop in Ancient Greece


As someone who has been in the industry for more years than I care to say I have had the privilege of both watching technology evolve, and of getting to use that technology as an early adopter.

I remember the first portable PC I used in the 80’s; the hernia inducing IBM100 like the one pictured. That thing was never a laptop, we used to call them “Luggable’s” as they weren’t quite portable and the battery would give you third-degree burns if you put it on your lap. But being able to access everything I needed through the use of a built in dial-up modem revolutionized my working life, even if it was at an underwhelming 56 kbps!

In only a few years laptops started to come in a form that truly warranted the name, IBM, DEC, HP and others produced machines that included a hard disk drive, and you could use them sitting on a plane on your lap. When in 1990 Michael Dell came onto the scene was when laptops truly became affordable and accessible. Dell’s first foray into the laptop market (from the garage at his parent’s house I believe) was the impressive 316LT, with 16Mhz processor, 1MB RAM, and a hard drive up to 40MB. This was combined with a 640 x 480 monochrome screen, although the surgeons weren’t yet to get worried about a drop-off in business as these ‘laptops’ still weighed in at nearly 7Kg.

Laptop’s went through an extraordinarily rapid evolution in the 90’s. We saw a lot of first during that decade with Apple and the first PowerBook, Olivetti with the first integrated touchpad, and IBM’s ThinkPad (1994) with its integrated CD-Rom drive. So as we neared the end of the 20th Century floppy disks, dial-up modems, monochrome screens and various other technologies were all being phased out…….(goodbye familiar technologies, we shall miss you!)

The 00’s was all about light and thin; the skinniest laptop ever at ¾“, the Toshiba Portege 2000; the same computer featured the first 1.8” hard drive; the M100 from the same innovator used an slim DVD-ROM drive; and ASUS released the first netbook the Eee PC 701 for thin-client computing.

Then came a revolution in computing, a step-change, a “Revolution that Changed the World”….(well the repackaging of a 20-year old technology really). In 2010 Apple launched its first iPad, a technology that would transform computing as we know it by making mobile computing a reality and available to the consumer with 3G connectivity, something that saw Apple sell 7.6 million between April and December of 2010.

I remember my first iPad, it was indeed ‘Love at First Sight’, it was beautiful, bright, powerful and was gorgeous to touch. That was until I started using it extensively then I realized that a) it needed a keyboard b) it needed a case to keep it in its pristine condition; adding a keyboard/case made it more functional and protected its delicate casing and screen but hid its aesthetics; the beauty was hidden behind a mask.

The iPad was the beauty-queen in a gorgeous array of beautiful tablet PC’s but when Microsoft launched its Surface Pro in 2013 the game shifted again somewhat: a tablet with an attachable keyboard as standard, or perhaps a laptop with a detachable keyboard? Or perhaps to put it better, a multifunctional mobile computing device with a business-standard operating system: Windows. iPad may have the looks, but I believe Microsoft definitely have the edge when it comes to business users.

So now we have laptops that think they're tablets, tablets that think they're laptops, and what about the poor customer? It’s very easy to be confused as to what to use and confused buyers are a gift to the great white shark of the business world: The Sales Executive!

Yet there is an intrinsic shortcoming of all of this wonderful technology, and its something I have been banging on about for some time now: they are designed for consumers, with consumer-grade components, and with ridiculous obsolescence cycles driven by consumers who want something slimmer, quicker, with the latest whizz-pop or whizz-bang feature. Did I mention that because of the consumer feeding-frenzy they are all built to be fragile, they don’t have to withstand misuse very well because, ‘if it breaks, the latest one is available in a couple of weeks so I might as well buy that.’ Attrition rates for iPads due to theft and breakages run as high as 50% in some industries such as healthcare.

So, what do I need in my hospital, warehouse, factory, or in my lorry, forklift, or armored vehicle? I need something that provides me with mobility yet is manufactured with these operating environments in mind. And yes, you guessed it, I might just have the device for you:

Introducing the first Military Standard 360 Convertible Laptops with Antimicrobial Enclosures, the LT300 series.

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