The need for road-ready portable computers has been recognized since the early days of the PC revolution. Computer manufacturers followed fairly quickly behind the launch of the IBM PC with a number of different types of portable computers.
Compaq launched the Compaq Portable in 1982. This DOS-based IBM PC clone provided a 5.25-inch floppy drive and a built-in 9-inch amber monitor. These suitcase-size computers (which weighed almost as much as a desktop PC) could run the same applications as an IBM desktop PC. The desire for mobile computers was proven by the fact that Compaq sold over 50,000 units in the first year.
Other companies, such as Osborne and Tandy, went their own direction and produced portable computers that did not provide compatibility with DOS-based business computers. Tandy probably should get the award for one of the first truly mobile computersthe Model 100. The Model 100 was introduced in 1983 and had a small LCD display (less than 3 inches high and 6 inches across). The Model 100 ran a built-in version of BASIC and came equipped with a simple text editor. ROM chips were also available for these lightweight portables (they weighed less than 3 pounds ) that contained productivity software, such as word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications. These portables also shipped with a built-in 300-baud modem.
Apple also entered the portable computing market in 1989 with the Macintosh Portable. This 16- pound portable computer, which ran the Mac OS, provided a faster processor than Macintosh SE and boasted a 40MB hard drive. This portable computer eventually evolved into the Macintosh PowerBook.
Portable and laptop computers have evolved as rapidly as desktop PCs, and in the last decade , laptop technology has advanced to the point where a 4-pound laptop computer can pack the processing and storage power found on a much larger business computer. Let's take a closer look at some of the laptop technologies, including screen design and networking capability, found on today's portable computers.