Surprising history of the modern laptop

Laptops have become a favorite to many people due to their flexibility toppled with compact computing. Unlike bulky desktops, they are very lightweight and portable.

They do not consume a lot of power and call for average maintenance techniques. If you look into the laptop market you will be surprised to notice the many laptop brands available, this was never the case when they were first invented.

The history of the modern day laptop entails a timeline of brow raising events which took place almost simultaneously with other technological events. While the timeline transitions in a rather slow paced manner, we must agree that it was all in a bid to create the perfect laptop computer.

Dynabook-The invention that was

Born Alan Curtis Kay or simply Alan Kay is the American Computer scientist who first invented the Dynabook in 1968. Dynabook was an educational platform with laptop and tablet concepts which was intended to facilitate e-learning and to allow children to easily access digital media.

Up until the 1970’s various researchers at Xerox used the Dynabookas an experimental tool that would shade some light into creating an efficient type of portable personal computer.

Dynabook never grew into an operational unit due to the technological limitations at that time. After Kay’s invention sufficed and reclined 3 versions of the laptop computer history emerge, each version is attributed to 4 different inventors.

Xerox Note Taker

In 1976, Xerox PARC Company invented what they called the “first ever portable laptop” while portable laptops remained an invention milestone yet to be realized, we must agree that the Xerox Note Taker came too close to achieving this tech dream. The designers who inspired its build were Larry Tesler, Adele Goldberg and Douglas Fairbain.

The laptop featured advanced tech techniques but its downside was its very high production cost thus high market prices, annoyingly slow processor, slow floppy disk drive and mouse response.

GRiD compass invention

William Moggridge, then employ of Grid Systems Co-operation was British inventor attributed for designing the Grid Compass in 1979. This 340k-byte model laptop computer was used by NASA in their 1980 space shuttle operations. Its weight was one fifth that of any model and its performance was surprisingly impressive at that time. This laptop bore a die-cast magnesium case while its graphics display screen was folding electroluminescent.

Gavilan laptop computer

This laptop was created in May 1983 by Manny Fernandez who had the idea of creating the perfect laptop to suit executive needs. He went ahead to promote his laptop as the first ever portable laptop and because of this many historians consider this Manny creation as the very first laptop.

Osborne 1 laptop

In its flexible and portable design features, Osborne 1 was invented in 1981 by Adam Osborne. The laptop was made available to the public at a cost of $1795 and it weighed 24 pounds. Orsborne 1 had various features available in the modern laptop such as modem port, 5” screen, 2 floppy drives, battery pack and a collection of software programs. This short-lived computer company together with its first laptop invention were never successful.

The laptop computer gets popular

After the invention of these 4 early laptops which never got the right recognition they deserved and so were not that popularized, more advanced laptop ideas emerged and by 1983, the portable laptop computer concept was a household name. People wanted to get hold of these more compact computers.

The group that was more interested in the laptop was the growing class of business elites who were prone to traveling and needed a device that could act as a personal assistant on the go as well as to process and store their useful data in. In the same year, 1983, laptop brands such as Epson and Compaq introduced their first ever portable laptop computers to the market.

These laptops, namely, HX-20 and Compaq portable penetrated the mainstream commercial market perfectly since their build entailed all the features needed for business use. The Compaq laptop required AC power, however this shortcoming did not hinder people from buying it because it was the only then laptop that was compatible to IBM software and MS-DOS operating system.

The Epson HX-20 was a modest laptop and fairly simple in most of its attributes. Its programming was easy, could function with a rechargeable battery and its price classified it under relatively cheap laptops of that time.

A silent name that’s being awakened in the laptop industry is the Japanese Kyotronic 85 laptop which featured in the 1980s as TRS-80 Model 100. It was a very small sized laptop with LCD display, keyboard and battery for an alternative source of power. The reception in Japan wasn’t as anticipated and years later Tandy Company took over this Japanese company that invented it and went ahead to boost the laptop’s sales all over the world, US and Canada.

Another noteworthy laptop which was invented in 1983 was the Sharp PC-5000 and its features looked much like other laptop brands hitting the market at that time.

Inventory of advanced laptop features

In the later years of the 1980’s laptop brands started producing better laptops with more advanced features such as screen display types and a concise database. At this point, the world was in tune to the laptop craze and although they were far much pricier they were still accessible to those who felt the need to own them. The 1980’s laptop revolution remains the active background over which various laptop brands look back to.

From the year 2000 to 2018 the world has seen a different concept emerge in laptop production. Right now laptops are not only limited to one compact design however we have various laptop categories in the market such as 2 in 1 convertibles, gaming laptops and tablet PC all of which have different purposes but share in the first historical concept which was portability and high performance.


As we examine this timeline in the history of laptop production we notice that this revolutionary wave took place in many regions as a result of the then tech advancements which were being practiced in various companies and computer science institutions.

What we see now as a high performance portable laptop computer is the result of many years of research and cooperative innovation ventures by computer engineers who wanted to reshape the tech world with more flexible and efficient computing platforms.

More innovations are still ongoing in the laptop world and we may not be surprised that there will come a time in the near future when historians will look back at the 21 century laptop inventions as an inspiration to their laptop production ventures.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here