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The IBM ThinkPad: 15 years old today

The iconic black laptop celebrates its birthday

The Power of One Infographic

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.

IBM ThinkPad 500 - image courtesy ThinkWiki
IBM's ThinkPad 500: its first sub-notebook

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.

IBM ThinkPad PC110 - image courtesy Komotch
IBM ThinkPad PC110 - image courtesy Komotch
IBM's PC110: the first palmtop ThinkPad

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.

IBM ThinkPad 220 - image courtesy ThinkWiki
IBM's ThinkPad 220: its first sub-sub-notebook

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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