End of the Trail

Sooner or later it happens to all good ThinkPads. The performance curve starts to lag, some new highly desirable feature is introduced, the newer ones are thinner/lighter, and before you know it, the "new computer bug" bites you. Typically, people like to discuss the intimate details of what new ThinkPad to buy. The purchase decision often takes months of research and in depth analysis. Oddly enough, we rarely discuss what to do with the old one. We usually become very attached to them, a bit like a trusted and time tested friend. I personally have a stack at home of nearly every ThinkPad I have ever used. The Hill archive looks like a neatly stacked cord of all black firewood. Most of them still boot up. I could tell you about each machine's unique personality, where they have been, and even their secret quirks. Following the BusinessWeek article, I received a great letter from a ThinkPad owner and fellow Oklahoman that felt compelled to share with me the story of his vintage ThinkPad 510C. This was an early example of the subnote class of ThinkPad. He wrote a touching story articulating his love for the machine he purchased in 1994 and how he could not bear to throw it away. So what did he do? He sent it to me via FedEx . It arrived neatly wrapped including all the original manuals, floppy disks, cables, and all the accessories. It looks almost new with nary a scratch or ding. Even the original TrackPoint cap looks fresh. He asked me to either keep it in our archives if we had such a thing, or as he put it "just give it a good burial as I can't do it." Truth be told, I can't stand to throw it in the trash bin either. I now have the "little guy" proudly on display in our design studio as an early example of ThinkPad achievement, but more importantly to remind me of how strongly people feel about ThinkPad. We aren't just designing lifeless machines out of plastic and metal. If we do our job well, we are creating an emotional bond and a trusted friend. This is what a real brand is all about. Don't worry Thomas, your friend is in good hands. Thanks for thinking of me.

David Hill