Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Oct 2009 12:49 UTC
IBM What laptop is the most loved, and maybe the most famous laptop in the world? Which laptop went into space? Which laptop won over 300 design awards? I'm sure many of you will be thinking of something made by Apple, but the truth of the matter is that we're talking about something else: IBM's ThinkPad. You might wonder, where does that name come from?
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I conseived in-keyboard pointing device while reading Moran/Card Human Computer Interaction book before I went to Atari Research in 1983. I wrote up a patent and filed it before joining IBM in 1985. I disclosed it to them but when the work at IBM the work got too important to diminsh with complex legal interests. I abandoned the patent pending, and focused on the work at IBM. People making the L40SX looked at and ultimately rejected the pointing device in 1990. People making the Thinkpad models in 1991 looked at and ultimately rejected it. The Thinkpad 700, the first one with the pointing device was the same weight, speed and display size with its unsuccessful predisesor, the biggest difference was getting rid of its thumb trackball and replacing it with the TrackPoint gave the laptop a boost in usability that the press and cusotmers seemed to notice... and aused IBM to tripple its projections and production scheudle three times in the first three months selling $.5 billion of thinkpads in the first year. An exponential growth in sales continued for 3 years.

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Luminair Member since:

thank you for commenting ted selker, because I am happy to finally thank, even if in virtual reality, the creator of one of the best physical cursor interfaces ever invented

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helf Member since:

If you really did invent it, then I want to hug you. I adore the trackpoint. I cannot stand touchpads. They are horrible.

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damp Member since:

I too would like to thank you for this fantastic device, the little red/blue and what ever colour HP gives it, is just a must for my pc's.

I even own 2 keyboards with ultranav, because i can't live without it on my desktops.

And i second the user who mentionen that he disables the touchpad, it is just annoying, not only does it make you move focus from a area you are using, its also unprecise and forces you to have your hands in an unpraticle position.

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Doc Pain Member since:

Wow... i'm impressed. I love the trackpoint since my Toshiba T2130ct. That's why I'd like to thank you for this great idea.

Yesterday, I got back my first ThinkPad. It is a fully functional 755C (486, 75 MHz, 640x480x256, 300 MB disk, 20 MB RAM, floppy disk drive) from approx. 1995, It works like a charm, and I still use it for programming Motorola mobile radios (which requires a "slow" computer), as well as for amateur radio purposes; OS is DOS + GEOS, but it even ran FreeBSD in the past. The trackpoint works very accurately and enables a pixel-precise (!) placing of the cursor; this precisiion does not change the fact that the trackpoint is an excellent pointing tool for fast operations. The original battery pack still lives and gives more than 2 hours life to the computer. Just imagine what quality this system must be made of - regarding the fact that it is "quite old".

Furthermore, I just remembered that I have an original IBM OS/2 3.0 box with an interesting booklet ("OS/2 Warp Benutzerhandbuch", 23H9482). Why is it interesting? Because it shows a compact-sized keyboard with a trackpoint - a trackpoint in a stationary keyboard! Why can't such a useful thing exist today? (Best idea: A trackpoint on a 122 key keyboard of IBM model M type.)

Something I'd like to add about modern Thinkpads: Next to the trackpoint they offer another feature that I've not found yet on other devices (usually equipped with finger slime pad coffee warmers): a middle mouse button. This button is essential to proper X operations, especially for use with the edit buffer, but very handy for the use of Opera (and Firefox).

When I think about buying a new laptop, which I will have to do sooner or later, it makes me sad that it's quite hard to find such simple things (trackpoint, three mouse buttons, support of standards) on our "modern" home consumer laptops. :-( But as I always say: People want crap, they get crap...

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WereCatf Member since:

Because it shows a compact-sized keyboard with a trackpoint - a trackpoint in a stationary keyboard! Why can't such a useful thing exist today?

I'd like one such myself too. Trackpoints take literally no extra space whatsoever, they are very easy to learn to use, and long fingernails don't hinder using them unlike f.ex. touchpads. If you're typing something, be it coding, an essay, a story or anything, it's annoying to have to move your hand away from the keyboard to use a mouse. In those situations a trackpoint is also very handy, you only need to move one single finger instead of moving whole hand.

Reply Parent Score: 2