On 16 June 1993, Big Blue announced the ThinkPad 500, described at the time as its first sub-notebook. Retailing for $1999 and measuring 25.3 x 18.8 x 4cm, it was based on a 50MHz 486SLC2 processor and offered with a choice of 85MB or 170MB hard drive - for an extra $500. The AC adaptor was built in to allow the 500 to be connected directly to the mains, saving users from having to lug around a power brick too.
The 350 and 350C built on the original 300, upping the CPU to a 25MHz 486SL from the earlier machine's 386-class chip and increasing the choice of storage capacities to 125MB and 250MB. The two 350s cost $1999 and $2499, while the two 350Cs were priced at 2599 and 2999.
1993 and the years to come would see further tweaks to these models, alongside some curious variations: the ThinkPad 220 compact sub-notebook in 1993, followed by the 800 series of PowerPC-based laptops in 1995. That year also saw the introduction of the ThinkPad PC110, handheld PC only made available to Japanese buyers.
The PC110 was based around a 4.7in 640 x 480 passive matrix colour display and featured a 33MHz 486-class processor, 20MB of memory and an internal 4MB Flash card for permanent storage. It also had a 2.4Kbps modem. It even had side-mounted LCD strip to display battery status information and the like.
The 220 was also intended for Asian buyers. Measuring 22.6 x 16.6 x 3.2cm, it packed in a 16MHz 386SL processor, 2MB of memory, an 80MB hard drive, a PCMCIA slot and a 7.7in 640 x 480 display. It was powered by six AA batteries.
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The IBM ThinkPad: 15 years old today
Yes, Lenova made Thinkpads for a while under IBM's badge. The point is they were manufacturing an IBM design.
They now own the whole brand and business and get to make their own design choices (eg where the ports are located, materials to use etc)
It's a real shame when something well designed and well built goes downhill for lack of attention to detail.
Didn't Lenovo already make them?
IIRC, Lenovo was already making the ThinkPads for IBM when they took over the whole business. Production quality should thus be the same – unless, of course, some bean counters wanted to lower costs …
(Or am I mislead about them doing the work for IBM for the past few years?)
Just to add to all the fanboydom, my first laptop was a PoS NCR (servicable, but only). Then I got the 701 "butteryfly". Even after having it for months I'd still sit opening and closing it watching the keybboard fold in and out.
It was the perfect design for a regular traveller - light, and compact (so you could use it on an economy class plane seat and actually have it fit on the tray table), but with a nice big keyboard for my fat fingers.
My next laptop years later was an X40, a great machine that survived infinite abuse.
The two best features of ThinkPads are the fact that the lid has a bezel that keys into the base when it's closed (protecting the screen and hinges), and the "Think Light", a small white LED in the lid bezel that can shine on the keyboard when it's dark (surprisingly and amazingly useful).
And the trackpoint is simply a vastly better pointing device than the trackpad.
What's to add? Anyone who's ever had a ThinkPad for any length of time knows just how solid and reliable they are. I'm on my third.
One thing that no-one seems to have brought up is the quality of the keyboards: they're the best around.
I received two old 760 ELs last year when my friend didn't need them anymore. They worked great. Battery life wasn't too bad, drivers weren't that hard to install, and I had a portable box to play DOS games on. :)