David Hill

Birdseye view of the Bento box inspired design

Birdseye view of the Bento box inspired design

Few people have ever seen the “vintage” design model created by Richard Sapper that served as the inspiration for what would become ThinkPad. The concept was imagined outside of the development community within IBM. It was born within the design group to invigorate IBM design. You should not be surprised to learn that it was a nearly perfect “box” shape with proportions and original measures very similar to a Japanese Bento box. Sapper himself has often drawn that comparison when he references ThinkPad’s origin, and the reference is well known within industry and design circles. I just read an article that once again made that connection. You can read it here. The design is still as striking today as it was in the early 1990s The intentionally “boxy” all-black concept amazingly pre-dates the invention of the TrackPoint and the introduction of color displays. For me, it’s hard to even remember a time before these two innovations occurred. Included in the design is an innovative hinge geometry, which at the time was code named the “half moon.” One look at it and you know why. It still looks cool today. All of this is of interest, but there was more to the design than just a simple black box with a unique hinge. The half moon hinge telegraphs how it opens....

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Clocks from the design center help keep things synchronized

Clocks from the design center help keep things synchronized

As many of my followers can tell, of late I’ve been conspicuously absent from the blogosphere. It’s nearly been a year since my last post about the ThinkPad Anniversary and an event we hosted at the MoMA. Some people have even speculated that I had died, gone into exile on a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific, or mysteriously left Lenovo under cover of darkness. Perhaps Mark Twain said it best with his famous quote, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The simple reality is that blogging takes significant time, especially if you want to do it right. Lately, I just haven’t had the time required. I’ve been working nearly around the clock on strategic design projects for Lenovo. Over the last year I’ve been to Italy, Germany, Japan, and of course China so many times I’ve lost count. Keeping the design trains running takes a lot of horsepower. Unfortunately, blogging had to take a back seat. I pioneered blogging at Lenovo with its inaugural blog Design Matters. It launched shortly after the landmark acquisition of IBM’s PC business. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about blogging but I quickly discovered that it was a wonderful way to have an interactive dialogue with people and get real-time feedback. It’s also a superb creative outlet for me personally. I like it. Now the time is right...

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"Thoughtful" pose at the MoMA anniversary event

Today is the day we officially celebrate the anniversary of ThinkPad. This year, however, is no ordinary anniversary. This year is the 20th anniversary of what has become a design classic and an icon of the industry. I am very proud of ThinkPad and all the people who have helped make it special over the years. Rather than write a special blog posting on the topic, I decided to post a "virtual" copy of the book I wrote and designed for the MoMA event we hosted back in August. The book titled, ThinkPad Design: Spirit & Essence, captures my thoughts on ThinkPad and punctuates them with striking graphical illustrations. The book was a big hit at the MoMA, but there just aren't enough copies to go around. A few of the people who commented on my earlier blog, with their unique ThinkPad stories, may have already recieved their signed copy. If you didn't, hopefully it's on the way. I wish I had enough to give to all the ThinkPad fans. To view the "virtual" book, click on the image below and it will launch in another window. You can either advance the pages with the on-screen navigation controls or simply drag the pages with your cursor. I prefer the latter since it feels so much more like a real book. Here's a hint, it looks much better in full screen mode. I hope you enjoy reading and experiencing the book. I certainly had a good time creating it. I'm already looking forward to the...

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These are the wallpapers we designed The X1 Carbon is clearly my latest favorite ThinkPad. I love the simplified design essence, excellent keyboard, and of course the thin profile and light weight. I thought it deserved a special set of wallpapers to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of ThinkPad. The wallpapers we designed are based on several of the pages that are included in the book I recently published titled ThinkPad Design: Spirit and Essence. There are a total of 4 different designs rendered in both dark and light versions. The quotes used on the designs are some of my favorites, combined with a few working sketches of ThinkPad design details I've made over the years. Fortunately, I save almost everything. You can go here to download the wallpaper files. I hope you enjoy these commemorative designs and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. I love it. David Hill

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The Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, is one of my favorite cultural havens. Whenever I’m in the city I always try to plan a visit and recharge my art and design batteries. Artists such as, Matisse, Calder, Picasso, and Klee are all there for the viewing. Honestly, I don't think I have ever seen a bad Picasso. The design gallery is a very special place for me. There I can see the things that designers dream of. The objects that have broken through the ordinary and made a lasting statement.  It always makes me proud to see the 701c “Butterfly “on display there. Fortunately for me, I’ll be at the MoMA  today. I'll be there for an early celebration of the 20th anniversary of ThinkPad and the official launch of the X1 Carbon. I can't think of a better reason to make the trek to New York City. The premier device for business, the X1 Carbon is the latest in a long line of milestone ThinkPads. It also happens to be the ThinkPad I’m carrying now. Although controversial to some, the island style X1 keyboard is truly the best I have ever experienced. For a person who travels a lot, there is no such thing as having a ThinkPad that is too thin or light. That story has been true for nearly 20 years. Thanks to advanced carbon-fiber construction, the X1 Carbon measures just a scant 18mm thin and weighs in at under 3 pounds. A far cry from the first...

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