Celebrating ThinkPad – Here’s to the Next 20

Today, the iconic ThinkPad brand officially turns 20. Wow! What a fantastic journey ThinkPad has been on over the last 20 years. We’ve done our fair share of celebrating over the past couple of months and I’m honored to officially commemorate this milestone today by taking a moment to look back at how far we’ve come and forward to the next 20 years of ThinkPad.

First, I want to thank our customers for helping to make ThinkPad so successful. Nearly every innovative feature, from the spill-proof keyboards to roll cage encased motherboard, to owl wing inspired quiet fans to the airbag like hard drive protection, are all designed to alleviate our customer pain points. And it is no wonder that our customers have rewarded us with the #1 market share in commercial notebooks.  

There’s also no question that one of the most paramount elements of the ThinkPad has been its iconic design. Back in August, David Hill, vice president of design kicked off our celebration event at The Museum of Modern Art, which houses the ThinkPad 701c with the famous fold out butterfly keyboard. He also shared some thoughts on the 20th anniversary and design with a blog titled, ‘Booked at the MoMa’. And more broadly, he discussed the importance of classic design with a piece on Co.Design titled “How Do You Manage A Design Classic, When Tastes Change Constantly?” We’re extremely proud and humbled that the simple, black, bento-box inspired design with the iconic red TrackPoint has held strong over the years in an industry that we’ve seen dominated by rapidly changing technologies and trends.

At the event, we took everyone on a stroll through memory lane with a historical product timeline highlighting some of the products released throughout the years. Check out this amazing photo of one of the older ThinkPad models beside the latest ThinkPad Carbon X1. It’s incredible to see how far we’ve pushed the envelope in terms of size, weight and technology innovations, while staying faithfully true to ThinkPad’s timeless design.

This ThinkPad Milestones graphic takes us back through the last 20 years of innovation. It’s fascinating to look back at all the different ThinkPads. Do you have a favorite? I’d like to know why. 

Our celebration event also featured important ThinkPad DOers – people who have had the opportunity to DO something outstanding using a ThinkPad over the years. Former NASA astronaut Col. Rick Searfoss spoke about his experience using ThinkPad laptops in space. Of the many trips, some of the more memorable ones include the ThinkPad 750 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor during a mission to the repair the Hubble Space Telescope on December 2, 1993.

 Back in 1993, when NASA needed a laptop to assist the Space Shuttle crew with mission testing and operational tasks, only ThinkPad met the tough quality, durability and reliability criteria. 

It was also great to see some of the creative work by ‘modder’ Dean Liou – check out his latest video arcade dock, which is powered by a ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Lenovo A1 tablet (as a secondary display). 

Not only have our customers taken ThinkPads to space and created interesting mods, they have traveled the corners of the Earth from the peaks of the Himalayas to the deserts of the Middle East. Each ThinkPad must pass different military specifications and undergo rigorous testing before becoming worthy of the ThinkPad name.  

I’m very proud to say that ThinkPad has led the industry in innovation over the last twenty years. ThinkPad’s 20th anniversary is marked by the official launch and availability of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and a preview of the ThinkPad Tablet 2, both extraordinary products showcasing Lenovo’s constant push forward with new innovations and continued influence on the computing industry.  

We launched the ThinkPad X1 Carbon to meet the challenge of creating the lightest 14-inch notebook in the world and in so doing we also created the thinnest ThinkPad ever. 

We also believe the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is the only real option for business tablet users. The ThinkPad development and engineering teams have spent over a year working hand-in-hand with Microsoft, and Intel to develop a tablet powered by Intel’s next generation Atom processor and running Microsoft’s new re-imagined Windows 8 operating system.

The ThinkPad Tablet 2 is more than just a tablet, it is truly in a category of its own – including Windows 8 style applications and desktop applications, full Microsoft Office and Enterprise Application support, pen input and a full-size USB port that connects to external USB drives, monitors, printers, cameras, DVD burners, cameras, mice and keyboards. It also provides extreme mobility, including a 10.1-inch display, less than 10 mm thickness, 10 hours of battery life and weighing in at less than 600 grams. 

And, as we move forward into the next 20 years, our vision for ThinkPad is to continue to inspire our customers to do amazing things in work and in life. We will define the future of mobile computing by developing products that are focused on our end users. Our “can DO mindset” teams are eager to develop the best ThinkPad products with an inspiring design, trusted quality, and customer valued innovation that will truly delight our users at every touch point.  

For myself and on behalf of Lenovo, I want to thank our valued business partners and customers for 20 years of success. I also want to reaffirm our commitment to maintaining the quality and reliability of the ThinkPad brand as we transition into the “PC+” era – a time where we interact with four screens made up of PCs, tablets, smartphones and smart TVs, as well as the larger ecosystem of cloud, services and applications.

Happy 20th Anniversary ThinkPad, and here’s to another 20 years!