Feeds

Ten ancestors of the netbook

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

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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)

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: HP Jornada 820

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.