How the Clamshell Laptop Changed Computer Design Forever

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You know Grid Systems' Grid Compass 1101 laptop, right? You should. The laptop you're using, the laptop you own, and the laptop you want all imitate its design. Why? The Grid Compass, from April, 1982, was the first clamshell laptop ever created.

TIME dove deep inside the clamshell design's history and compared it with the motley crew of failed portable computer designs. It's easy to see why we use William Moggridge's clamshell laptop design now—everything else sucked. Some computers looked more like sewing machines or giant calculators. Others were regular computers that masqueraded as portable computers because they were two pounds lighter than its desktop counterpart. As TIME says:

Moggridge's design made for a far more portable computer than the Osborne [the sewing machine computer]. It let the user angle the screen to his or her preference. The backside of the display protected both the screen and the keyboard when the machine wasn't in use. And unlike numerous mobile-computer cases to come, it was mechanically simple. It's one of the most clever pieces of engineering in computing history.


To this day, every modern laptop uses the clamshell design of the Grid Compass. Read more about the history of the clamshell design at TIME. [TIME]