Shedding Light on Innovation
There have been lots of rumors and innacurate stories published about the origins of the ThinkLight. I thought it was important to set the record straight on this innovative feature. Many years ago we embarked on the design of what was ultimately called the iSeries ThinkPad. The idea was to create a ThinkPad with broader consumer appeal. Lots of angst about whether the design should be the simple black rectangle or not. Much to the dismay of some disbelievers, the ThinkPad design was preferrred across the board. There was, however, a opportunity to create features tuned more to consumers. I asked one of my human factors engineers, Stacey Baer, to schedule a brain storming session to help invent relevant ideas. One of the concepts that came out of the session was the ThinkLight.
At the time mini booklights were all the rage and I was flying international on a very regular basis. Increasingly I was frustrated by trying to type on an airplane at night by having to turn on the annoying reading light. Your neighbor usually hates this at 2 in the morning.The idea was solidified in the meeting as a combination of the mini booklight and notebook computer. Yamato got right to work on this and sent me a impressive prototype using a very new at the time white LED. A quick trip to our photo darkroom and the concept was validated. We had a winner. A review with the general manger and we were on our way.
Originally we had a dedicated switch for the feature, but eventually integrated the activation into the keyboard to save money and make it easier to use. Now there's an idea. The key stroke combination is located at the extreme upper right and lower left corners of the sytem. Very easy to find in the dark.
Over time this has become one of the most debated features ever included on a ThinkPad. People who have found it are in love with it, but all too often it goes undiscovered. I hope this entry connects more people to one of my ThinkPad favorites.
Here's the secret code: