Design Classic Design

"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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The Porsche 911 has become an icon of automobile performance by design

The Porsche 911 has become an icon of automobile performance by design

Ferdinand A. Porsche, designer of the iconic 911 sports car, died yesterday at the age of 76. He was the grandson of the founder of the company, known to many by the nickname "Butzi". He was also one of my design heroes. A hero not only because he penned one of the most impressive car designs ever, but because he had a design philosophy that inspired my own. I'm mourning the loss of this design legend. Someday I want to own a nice black 911 and emerse myself in his philosophy every day, tough duty. A true design legend at work shaping a future icon The original Porsche 911 turned out to be such an immediate and lasting hit that the company never entertained replacing it with a new design. Instead, they managed the design through evolutionary refinement. Each new generation was intended to improve on the breed, rather than ignore the past. In spite of countless modifications, technology shifts, and governmental regulations, today's 911 is a clear descendant of the original design vision. A vision that has endured for nearly 50 years. There are few other cars that can boast of such an incredible legacy and cult following. Now in its seventh design generation, the car remains an icon of performance, engineering prowess, and pure sex appeal. Ferdinand was once quoted as saying “Design must be functional and functionality must be...

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A lot has changed, but so much is the same

A lot has changed, but so much is the same

Thanks to Gizmodo and Rachel Swaby for the nice piece about the design history of the ThinkPad 700c, and its connection to the recent IBM 100th birthday. You can read the complete article here. It contains lot of of interesting anecdotes and design stories to be enjoyed by all. Believe it or not, I still have a 700c or two in my personal design collection. I may be a bit biased, but I don't think there is a more significant design ever created at IBM. Evahhhh!!!! Keeping it alive, nurturing it, and evolving it has been both an honor and a workout for me. I have a lot of black paint under my fingernails as a daily reminder. Here is my favorite quote from the article: "And kicking it all off was the 700c, the first laptop with an operating system that really worked in a package that people would actually want to carry."  GIZMODO   Tom has clearly adopted the ThinkPad "purposeful evolution" design strategy for his own benefit  The article includes well deserved mention of  both Tom Hardy, the former IBM corporate design manager,  and our ongoing design consultant Richard Sapper, for getting the ThinkPad ball rolling. It's rather incredible how...

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Clean airy lines and striking simplicity dominate I've been very busy lately working on next generation ThinkPad design. So busy in fact, that I've had to take a short break from blogging. Don't worry, more posts are coming from me very soon. Today, however, I learned of the passing of design great David Rowland and feel compelled to give him the mention he deserves. His most notable work is clearly the invention of the 40/4 stacking chair. If you didn't know, the stack efficiency of this design wonder has never been beaten.  Imagine 40 chairs in a stack 4 feet high. The name says it all. Considering it was introduced in 1963, this is really rather amazing. Millions have been sold around the world. All of this, and it's still comfortable and beautiful to look at. The chair is included in the permanent design collection of the MoMA. Well done. The stacking efficiency is stunning I have always admired the work of Rowland dating back to my days at the University of Kansas. I...

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Graphical symbols have been used for decades to label knobs, buttons, switches, and of course connectors. This is not just a computer phenomenon. I first became aware of  product related symbols  on my Dad's 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. I'm sure Volkswagen  decided to use symbols for the same reason we do. Symbols are a very cost effective alternative to traditional language.  It's much more expensive to create  country unique models with translated nomencalture.  The ISO has been the governing body for such matters for as long as I can remember. ISO is an acronym  for the International Standards Organization.  They have standards for almost anything imaginable, including symbols. Designers are certainly not strangers to the world of symbols. I would guess that nearly every designer has been pressed into service during their career to design a symbol or two. I've certainly designed my share. The one I designed that has achieved the most notoriety is clearly the symbol for ethernet. This appears on pretty much every personal computer in the world to label the ethernet port. I never imagined it would achieve this level of fame when I worked on this back in 1989 with my old IBM collegues Lou Behrens and Win Miller. It was first used on a link protocol converter,  if you know what that is.     Symbols for local...

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