Home / Technology / How a toy impressed the ‘butterfly’ keyboard design of the enduring IBM ThinkPad 701C

How a toy impressed the ‘butterfly’ keyboard design of the enduring IBM ThinkPad 701C

Each laptop computer isn’t the identical and each laptop computer isn’t the IBM ThinkPad 701C. Arguably probably the most fascinating ultraportable pc ever made, the IBM ThinkPad 701C’s distinctive full-size butterfly keyboard — designed by John Karidis and impressed by his daughter’s toy — within the compact laptop computer was one thing remarkable on the time.

“The most important cause the butterfly keyboard got here out was [these] enterprise laptops have been clearly very fashionable with enterprise of us and the most important grievance that we acquired from prospects was the competing laptops have been too small,” Dilip Bhatia, Chief Buyer Expertise Officer and Vice-President of Consumer & Buyer Expertise at Lenovo, remembers the IBM ThinkPad 701C and the way it modified the marketplace for ultraportable enterprise laptops.

The ThinkPad 700 sequence idea was launched by Worldwide Enterprise Machines Company (Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC enterprise and the enduring ThinkPad model in 2005) to create a brand new class of enterprise laptops that’s simpler to hold and use. The problem for the group was to suit a full-sized keyboard alongside a 10.4-inch LCD color show into the subsequent ThinkPad 701C transportable laptop computer.

To unravel the distinctive design downside, Dr. John Karidis, an IBM distinguished engineer, took on the problem to develop the “Butterfly” keyboard. Bhatia explains that Karidis, a mechanical engineer with IBM’s Private Computing Division at the moment, acquired the thought of a foldout butterfly keyboard by observing his three-year-old daughter who was constructing shapes out of her toy blocks. Observing his daughter play with wood blocks, Karidis considered slicing the board throughout the quantity 4, T, H and M keys. That method the board was damaged into two distinctive movable components. That was how the “Butterfly” keyboard took place.

“At the moment, the one display screen obtainable was a 10.4-inch display screen. The issue assertion was how can we combine a full-size keyboard in a sub-notebook kind issue, which was the 700 sequence at the moment. So the design began in 1993 and the product got here out in early 1995, “ Bhatia sheds gentle on the event of the ThinkPad 701C.

Maybe probably the most distinctive factor that made the ThinkPad 701C so totally different from different notebooks was its fold-out keyboard. (Picture credit score: Lenovo)

From the surface, the ThinkPad 701C was an ordinary-looking IBM laptop computer, all again and stable and a boxy, right-angled exterior case design. However if you open the lid, the true magic occurs. Karidis had discovered a strategy to match a full-sized keyboard right into a 9.7-inch laptop computer chassis by dividing the keyboard into two interlocking items that folded out and in as you opened and closed the laptop computer’s lid. So the lid is closed, each items lie flat within the case. As and when the laptop computer lid is opened, it lifts the 2 items and stretches the keyboard past the case, similar to when a Butterfly opens its wings.

“There have been different debates inside IBM at that time. Ought to we name this the IBM ThinkPad butterfly? There was a whole lot of forwards and backwards. Finally, we determined to not come out with a brand new model identify,” says Bhatia who joined IBM in 1999 and had the chance to work with Richard Sapper, the economic designer behind the unique ThinkPad, launched in 1992.

“The advertising group did a incredible job round 1995 once they would place these little advertisements in newspapers, and with only a image of a butterfly. There was a whole lot of buzz and pleasure across the ThinkPad 701C, one thing the trade had not seen in 1995,” he added.

IBM ThinkPad 701C, IBM ThinkPad 701C butterfly keyboard, IBM ThinkPad 701C history, John Karidis IBM, Lenovo, Lenovo ThinkPad, Dilip Bhatia Lenovo The ‘butterfly’ keyboard primarily expands when the laptop computer lid is opened. (Picture credit score: Lenovo)

Bhatia remembers John Karidis and his fellow group members together with Sam Lucente, Richard Sapper and Robert P. Tennant began engaged on the ThinkPad 701C in 1993. “This undertaking was codenamed Butterfly, when John Karidis and the group designed what they virtually regarded as wings of an airplane, just like the High Gun film,” he stated.“We had Yamato Lab, we had our designers at Analysis Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina and Richard Sapper himself, a German-based in Milan,” says Bhatia. “So it actually was a world product growth, even again within the day.”

The spectacular foldout butterfly keyboard had a promising and game-changing idea to sort out the real-life downside of stuffing a full-sized keyboard into a transportable laptop computer, although the launch of notebooks with bigger shows quickly made the necessity for such a keyboard redundant. “When the butterfly keyboard was created, it was there to unravel an issue,” Bhatia says. “The primary grievance from our prospects again then was the cramped keyboard and what the 701C did was actually resolve that buyer downside.”

IBM ThinkPad 701C, IBM ThinkPad 701C butterfly keyboard, IBM ThinkPad 701C history, John Karidis IBM, Lenovo, Lenovo ThinkPad, Dilip Bhatia Lenovo Due to the butterfly keyboard design, the ThinkPad 701C featured a full-sized keyboard. (Picture credit score: Lenovo YouTube video screengrab)

When IBM launched the ThinkPad 701C in 1995, it was an prompt hit amongst enterprise travellers and made the corporate cool once more. As a matter of truth, this laptop computer holds a spot in MoMA’s everlasting assortment in New York Metropolis. The ThinkPad 701C additionally made numerous appearances in Hollywood’s greatest films launched on the time together with GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan’s debut movie as James Bond and Mission Inconceivable, starring Tom Cruise.

Whereas many don’t bear in mind the ThinkPad 701C after 26 years of its launch, Bhatia says the laptop computer remains to be in scorching demand among the many collector neighborhood. The truth is, he says a whole lot of Lenovo’s industrial designers have the ThinkPad 701C. “Once we discuss in regards to the high 10 ThinkPads, this undoubtedly reveals up because the primary or most likely the highest two or three as one of the crucial widespread merchandise ever.”


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