I spent three years on assignment in Tokyo and worked directly with our Yamato development lab for years prior to that so not only have I had access to the regular mainstream PCs we’ve sold around the world, I’ve also been lucky enough to get my grubby little paws on a number of Japan-only ultraportables.
With the launch of the ThinkPad X1, I thought it would be interesting to take some pictures and compare it with a few machines I have in my personal collection. Three are Japan/Asia-only and three were sold worldwide. This is not meant to be an exhaustive history of everything we’ve ever made that was called an “ultraportable,” but it brings together six of the more interesting products we’ve produced over the years.
From top to bottom:
PC 110 Sept 1995
ThinkPad 235 July 1998
ThinkPad 240 June 1999
ThinkPad s30 May 2001
ThinkPad X301 Aug 2008
ThinkPad X1 May 2011
The IBM PC 110 is the only one of the bunch that wasn’t formally called a ThinkPad. To this day, I’ve never found out exactly why it wasn’t marketed as a ThinkPad, but it was marketed as the smallest Windows 95 PC ever made. I didn’t ever use this as my day-to-day PC, but I remember a healthy sense of satisfaction at being able to get Windows 95 running on it.
I used the ThinkPad 235 as my every-day laptop for about a year back in 1998-99 and have some fond memories of it. In 2011 terms, a Pentium 233 computer with 96MB of RAM seems inconceivably ancient but, at the time, it was cutting-edge and had a couple of unique features. It ran off of two standard camcorder batteries that could be replaced independently of one another—I don’t remember the exact battery life but I do remember having two spares and my four total batteries lasting for a significant portion of a flight to Japan. It also had three PC Card slots, and since it did not have internal Ethernet, modem or wireless, those slots were regularly put to good use. (My Token Ring card spent more time in the slot than the Ethernet back in the day. It was IBM after all.) The geek-pride factor of being able to walk into work meetings and have people say “Where did you get that?!” was very satisfying.
I never used the ThinkPad 240 or s30 as my personal machine, but am including them here for reference.
Most of you will remember the X300/301—one of the most talked-about and written-about ThinkPads we’ve ever made.
Clockwise from bottom left: X1, 235, PC110, 240, s30, X301
And finally to the brand new X1: it is the thinnest ultraportable ThinkPad we’ve ever made and we’re justifiably proud of this latest addition to the family. Rather than write more about it, I invite you to check out this unboxing video we did to accompany its launch:
--Kevin Beck (@kwbeck)