How Have Laptops Evolved Over Time

During the time when the desktop computers were themselves very bulky and large, laptops were created to provide for a portable way of working for the users and to facilitate the latter to work in different locations. This was in the year 1981.

That’s where any comparison of the so-called laptop from then to the modern day sleek version ended. Laptops during those days were heavy with tiny displays, no hard disk, and everything running from the RAM or floppy disks. Sleek was not a term to describe them back then.

The first laptop:

Osborne 1 laptop

The very first laptop, Osborne 1, was made by Osborne Computer Company in the year 1981. Not differing much in looks from a closed up sewing machine, Osborne 1 was powered by an electrical connection with an optional battery backup, used two 5 ¼” floppy drives mounted on both the sides of the display and included a modem port. Its display was 5-inches wide and could show up to 52 characters per line. Definitely hard to imagine!

The models to follow:

Mackintosh Portable
A Mackintosh Portable from 1989

In the year 1983, the Gavilan Mobile Computer was introduced by Gavilan. That’s when the clamshell design had originated, in which, the screen would fold over the keyboard on closing. Its weight was 9 pounds and was powered by nickel-cadmium batteries for up to 9 hours.

Next came the TRS-80 Model 100 by Radio Shack in 1983 and the TRS – 80 Model 200 in 1986. This latter model was more compact, had a larger display and better battery power, and included built-in software. TRS-80 (Trash 80) was considered pretty high tech at that time.

The 5155 Portable Personal Computer, IBM’s version of a laptop was released in 1984. It had two 5 ¼” drives on both the sides and 640K RAM. Including up to this point in time, the laptop computers were used for text-based information processing only and graphics was relatively unknown.

With the advent of the SLT/286 laptop in 1988, Compaq, its manufacturer, brought the concept of graphics in. Its weight was hefty at 14 pounds and had a 1.44 floppy drive and 286 processor.

NEC quickly followed with the NEC UltraLite, with a weight of just 4.4 pounds

In 1989, with the release of Mackintosh Portable, Macintosh entered the laptop market. Bulky at around 17 pounds, it had a 9.8-inch matrix screen. It could operate for close to 10 hours on a lead-acid battery and that was the best part of the machine.

Come the 1990s, the laptops sprung more ports and connectors, the entire time trying to woo the consumers with their sleek designs, better storage capacities, improved displays and lesser weight. They are no longer used just for computing, but for every purpose, we can think of!

Today laptops are even used for gaming, something that desktops has always been better at. There are some arguments over what is best for gaming a gaming desktop vs laptop, but most people agree that laptops are more than capable of running the latest video games.

The laptop has come a long way from a bulky, mean machine of the past to the faster, sleeker and extremely attractive self of today. The designs and the features only get better with time and one can only wonder as to what else is left to conceive!

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