Technologizer: World’s Weirdest Portable Computers

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By Harry McCracken

There aren’t many pieces of technological design that simply can’t be improved upon, but the clamshell-style laptop computer case–introduced by Grid Systems in 1982–may be one of them. That’s why the vast majority of the portable computers built ever since have used it. But for more than a quarter-century now, inventors have been trying to top it, with folding screens, screens on stalks, folding keyboards, two-screen clamshells, tri-fold clamshells, and more. Most never even get off the drawing board. Herewith, a gallery of designs from Google Patents (click the filing dates to see the patents). There’s only one in here I might have considered buying, but on some perverse level I admire them all.

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Technologizer: Patentmania! Personal Computers of the Early 1980s

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By Harry McCracken

The first few years of PC history were its stone age–the era when any signs of life whatsoever were history-making. The period from 1985 to the present, as amazing as it’s been, has been one of consistency and compatibility. Which is why I think of 1980-1985 as the most interesting half-decade in PC history. Almost every new system (including some that debuted in 1979) was still an experiment–and even flops could be fascinating. Herewith a gallery of notable examples, illustrated with evocative drawings from Google Patents.

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