A laptop is a computer which is easy to carry around. Its user can fold the laptop along its hinge for carrying. The laptop was created mainly for this particular reason. Computer parts were scaled to smaller size so this could happen. A modern laptop is self-contained, with built-in rechargeable battery and peripheral equipment. The user can also plug it in, for longer battery life and additional peripherals.
The first laptop was made in 1979 by British Designer Bill Moggridge. GRiD Systems Corporation helped improve his design. GRiD made the product with a fold-down display that covered the keyboard. It was called the GriD Compass. In 1982, GRiD Systems began to make many GriD Compass laptops. They were mostly sold to NASA and the Military of the United States.
GRiD's computer was one fifth the weight of any other computer used at that time. NASA used the laptop in its Space Shuttle program, in the 1980s. The Grid Compass required mains power.
GRiD owned patents for the "Clamshell" design which is used in almost all modern laptop designs. GRiD Systems was bought by Tandy Corporation in 1988.
The portable micro computer the Portal of the French company R2E Micral CCMC officially appeared in September 1980 at the SICOB show in Paris. The Portal was based on an Intel 8085 processor, 8-bit, clocked at 2 MHz. It was equipped with a central 64K byte Ram, a keyboard with 58 alpha numeric keys and 11 numeric keys (separate blocks), a 32-character LED screen, a floppy disk: capacity = 140 000 characters, a thermal printer: speed = 28 characters / second, an asynchronous channel, a synchronous channel, a 220V power supply. It weighed 12 kg and its dimensions were 45 cm × 45 cm × 15 cm. It had no hinge and its operating system was Prolog.
Some historians, however, count as the first "true" portable the Osborne 1. It was created in 1981 by Adam Osborne who was also a former book publisher. He was the founder of Osborne Computer. His portable computer weighed 11 kg (24 pounds).
Also in 1981, another laptop computer called Epson HX-20 went on sale. It was a portable computer with a liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor. The computer also included a built-in printer. The whole device was could be battery powered.
One year later, in 1982, two computer designers from Microsoft, Kazuhiko Nishi and Bill Gates, discussed a new portable computer. The main thing about the computer was a new LCD technology. The prototype of the new laptop was presented to Radio Shack. Radio Shack agreed to start making the computer. A year later the company launched its TRS-80 Model 100, which was a computer that looked pretty much like the laptops that we know today. In 1986 the company created its improved version called TRS Model 200. The following two years saw the appearance of a laptop PC from Compaq Computers and the first notebook-style laptop from NEC called NEC UltraLite.
The year 1989 was quite successful for laptop producers. First there was Apple Computer that developed its first portable computer called Macintosh Portable the evolution of which turned it into PowerBook. Then the company named Zenith Data Systems introduced its Zenith MinisPort – a portable computer weighing 6 pounds (2.5 kg). Finally there was Compaq Computer that designed its first laptop PC called Compaq LTE.
The development of laptops continued with various upgrades and additional functions added. Laptops have advantages such as:
- People can carry them anywhere, whether office or home.
- They can be used in a smaller space than an ordinary desk computer.
At the same time portable computers have several negative points such as:
- Price is higher
- Easily stolen
- They can be used in a car, resulting in distracted driving
- They travel frequently, thus can be damaged
- Some laptops have usually low technical specifications and are available in low prices.
- They are often slower than desktop computers with heavy tasks like gaming, video editing or graphic design.
In 2005, an organisation called One Laptop Per Child started trying to improve education using cheap laptops.