Do you remember the first time you ever saw a laptop? It might have been an impressive sight, or it may have just seemed like another computer. But either way, laptops have come a long way since they were first created.
It’s hard to imagine life without laptops. We use them for work, play, school, and for keeping in touch with our loved ones. But where did this amazing piece of technology come from? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the history of the laptop computer, from its earliest iterations to the sleek machines we use today.
Table of Contents
First Movable Computer: IBM’s 5100 Portable Computer
The first portable computer was IBM’s 5100 Portable Computer. It paved the way for laptop development.
In 1975, IBM released the 5100 Portable Computer, the first laptop by today’s standards. The machine retailed for $9,000 and weighed around 50 pounds. It had a five-inch CRT display and could be powered by AC or DC. The 5100 also came with a cassette tape drive for storage. It featured a tape drive, a 1.9 MHz PALM processor, and 64 KB of RAM.
While the 5100 wasn’t exactly what we today would consider portable—it was more like a very heavy desktop computer that you could move from one room to another—it was a remarkable feat of engineering for its time. IBM designed the 5100 specifically for engineers and scientists who needed to be able to take their work with them when they traveled.
Despite its primitive features by today’s standards, the IBM 5100 was a game changer due to its portability. Previous computers were large, heavy, and not very mobile. The IBM 5100 changed all that and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for both businesses and individuals. Today, we take portable computers for granted, but it all started with the IBM 5100 back in 1975.
The First True Laptop: Osborne 1
The Osborne I was recognized as the first true laptop.
The earliest PCs were large and unwieldy, and not at all portable. That all changed in 1981 when Adam Osborne released the first-ever laptop computer, the Osborne 1. Weighing in at a whopping 24 pounds, this “luggable” computer was state-of-the-art in its day, with a built-in monitor, 64KB of memory, and a price tag of $1795. Not bad for 1981!
The processor was a Zilog Z80 @ 4.0 MHz and it had 64K of memory. The display was a built-in 5″ monitor and it had ports for 53 X 24 text, Parallel / IEEE-488, and modem / serial port. It also had storage for dual 5-1/4 inch, 91K drives. The operating system was CP/M. Even though it was expensive and heavy, it was popular because it was portable and could be used for business purposes.