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Friday, March 04, 2005

Portability, of a sort Computers

Portability, of a sort
025/0667 October 26, 2002

There are those that claim the IBM 5100 "Portable" was indeed the first portable (as we think of it today) computer, but I maintain that "portable" had a different meaning to IBM and their customers at that time.

In the context of the 5100, "portable" meant that it could be moved by the end-user without having to hire a team of IBM engineers to move it for you. Keep in mind that at the time, nearly all computers were room-sized installations with special power and air conditioning needs. Moving them was a major project in and of itself. The 5100, however, could be simply turned off, unplugged, and relocated by a reasonably strong person. It was never intended be a computer that one would take home at the end of the day or that one would cart around to client sites.

To IBM, the word "portable" in the 5100's name meant something different than it does to us today, just as the word "gay" meant something different to Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby than it might when said by someone today.

[ Posted: 18:00 | home | print ]


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