Feeds

Ten ancestors of the netbook

Doomed category has a long history thanks to Atari, Poqet, Psion et al

High performance access to file storage

Toshiba Libretto

Reg Hardware retro numbers

In the 1990s, sub-notebooks weren’t popular outside of Japan. In the West, buyers wanted as much screen space and performance as they could get, but in Japan, a culture that favours the neat and the compact, punters were willing to pay for portability. No wonder than that Toshiba’s Libretto debuted over there and didn’t make it to the UK and the US until a year or so later. The first Librettos were based on an AMD-made 486 chip with 270-500MB of disk storage and a 6.1-inch TFT display, all crammed into a clamshell case slightly shorter than the Quaderno. It was lighter too: 840g to the Olivetti’s round kilo.

Toshiba Libretto 70 CT

Source: Lorenzo Breda

Always designed to run Windows, the Librettos sported a flat joystick to the right the of the LCD in place of a trackball or trackpad.

Arriving in the West, the Libretto line gained Intel Pentium chips of greater and greater performance as time went by, though not all of them made it over here. Indeed, Toshiba stopped selling Librettos in the UK in 1999 until an attempt to relaunch the brand in 2005 with the Windows XP-based U series and, in 2010, the ill-fated dual-display W100, Windows 7-based W100. In Japan, the family was rebooted in 2001 as the L series, a range of larger machines based on the Transmeta Crusoe processor Linux founder Linus Torvalds was briefly involved with, but it was discontinued in 2002.

Maker Toshiba
Introduced 1996
Discontinued 1999 (UK, US) 2002 (Japan)
Price ¥248,000

Apple eMate 300

Reg Hardware retro numbers

Designed as a low-cost (ish) laptop for schoolkids, Apple’s 1997 eMate 300 was novel not merely for its small size. First, it wasn’t a Mac. The 300 used an ARM processor clocked to 25MHz, not the PowerPC platform, and it ran the company’s Newton OS rather than the Macintosh operating system. It had a touchscreen too, readily tapped with a stylus kept in a bay above the full-size keyboard. The screen itself was a 7-inch, 16-greys monochrome job with a 480 x 320 resolution, and the whole lot was wrapped in a turquoise translucent clamshell case, which incorporated a carry handle.

Apple eMate 300

Source: raneko @ Flickr

The eMate 300 was priced at $800 back in 1997, the equivalent of $1450 now, according to consumer price index changes over the years. Its OS incorporated a full set of personal information management apps, plus basic drawing and word processing packages, and even an ebook reader. A couple of Apple-style serial ports and a PCMCIA slot allowed for expansion and the addition of new software.

Steve Jobs canned the eMate 300 less than a year after its introduction, in a cull of many non-Mac Apple products he instigated on his return to the company as interim CEO. “Apple is committed to affordable mobile computing, pioneered by the eMate, and will be serving this market with Mac OS-based products beginning in 1999,” the company said in February 1998. The result was the eMate-influenced iBook, which debuted in July of that year - for almost twice the price of the eMate.

Maker Apple
Introduced 1997
Discontinued 1998
Price $800 (£300)

High performance access to file storage

Next page: HP Jornada 820

More from The Register

next story
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.