David Hill

Thomas Jefferson was obsessed with inventing unique stands for reading

Thomas Jefferson was obsessed with inventing unique stands for reading

In the world of hardware design, tablets have traditionally been seen as a race for thin. You can’t begin to imagine how many meetings I’ve attended over the last year debating tablet thickness. It must be one of the hottest topics in the entire industry, not just Lenovo. Every effort goes into squeezing the air out of tablets in order to gain a scant fraction of a millimeter advantage in thickness. Beyond actual thickness, we also seek to taper the design toward the edges to further enhance the impression of thin. Sadly, those pesky connectors and buttons seem to always get in the way of making the sleekest form . Do we really need them? I tend to prefer wireless solutions that provide freedom and simplify my world. The Yoga tablet integrates high and low stand functionality thanks to a unique profile With all the recent publicity surrounding the design of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet , and the integration of a flip out leg for viewing and typing modes, it makes me wonder if this isn’t the wave of the future.  At Lenovo we call these positions high and low angle modes. High is typically used for viewing content such as a movie and low primarily for typing. For the Yoga tablet, these modes were uniquely enabled by the use of a row of cylindrical batteries forming an asymmetrical profile. It could be done without using that form, but it would be...

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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....

Continue reading “Richard Sapper & The Origins of The ThinkPad Keyboard”

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...

Continue reading “20th Anniversary: My Thoughts on ThinkPad”

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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