IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad Laptops Remain Corporate Favorites After 25 Years

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IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad Laptops Remain Corporate Favorites After 25 Years

Lenovo this week is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its venerable ThinkPad laptops. The ThinkPad line was introduced by IBM in 1992, back when Big Blue was still a top producer of PC hardware that was ubiquitous on corporate desktops. ThinkPads were designed to appeal to corporate users who demanded reliable laptops that could survive the rigors of constant use on the road and in the office. Carrying a laptop with the ThinkPad logo became a mark of prestige among business road-warriors starting in the 1990s. The ThinkPad remains a corporate workhorse. But Lenovo has kept up with the latest technologies and customer preferences and introduced ThinkPads in the forms of progressively thinner and lighter ultrabooks and convertible notebooks. This slide show looks back at some of the design milestones in the long line of ThinkPad laptops.

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1992: ThinkPad 700

IBM kicked off the ThinkPad line in 1992 with the ThinkPad 700. The hefty notebook was the first to have the iconic red eraser head TrackPoint, a pointing device in the middle of the keyboard that allowed users to move the cursor without a mouse. It was so impressive that IBM won more than 300 awards for the ThinkPad 700.

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1993: ThinkPad 750C

The IBM ThinkPad 750C followed, sporting a slightly redesigned body and a colorful display.  NASA chose to bring the ThinkPad 750C on a space mission in 1993, where it was used to test whether radiation in space could cause memory problems.

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1994: ThinkPad 755cd

The IBM ThinkPad 755cd marked another major milestone for the company. These still-bulky notebooks, which were released in October 1994, were the first to come with a built-in CD-ROM drive. All other notebook competitors at the time were equipped with floppy drives.

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1995: ThinkPad 701C

IBM made great strides in notebook design in 1995 with the ThinkPad 701C. The computer, which was code-named butterfly, had a keyboard that slid in and out as the notebook was opened and closed. It had a 10.4-inch display and ran on a 50Mhz Intel 486DX2 processor.

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1998: ThinkPad 600

In 1998, IBM unveiled the ThinkPad 600 series. These models were designed as a more portable version of the popular 770 series and weighed approximately 5 pounds. The series didn’t attract much customer support, however, and was discontinued in 2000.

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1999: ThinkPad 240

In an attempt to improve upon the ThinkPad 200, IBM in 1999 released the ThinkPad 240. This was IBM’s smallest-model laptop at the time. It was equipped with the Intel Mobile Celeron 300 or the Pentium III, depending on the model, and featured a 6GB hard drive and a USB 1.0 port.

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2001: ThinkPad TransNote

In a move that was ahead of its time, IBM delivered the ThinkPad TransNote in 2001. It was a “portfolio style” device that had a digital pen and pad on one side and a traditional notebook with screen and keyboard on the other. But this design experiment didn't last long in the market.

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2002: ThinkPad X30

By 2002, ThinkPad laptops were earning rave reviews, and the ThinkPad X30 was among the most popular models. Combining a “travel-friendly” design and built-in WiFi, which was far from a standard feature in those days, this laptop delivered outstanding battery life for the time. The ThinkPad X30’s design was a winner and it sold well, too.

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2005: ThinkPad Z Series

In 2005, Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC division in a $1.25 billion deal. While many worried that Lenovo would ruin the ThinkPad, that year’s ThinkPad Z quelled their fears. The computer was actually an IBM design and a minor upgrade from the previous year's model, but its big change was mostly cosmetic: The ThinkPad Z ditched the familiar matte black for a brighter titanium finish. It was a popular choice.

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2008: ThinkPad X300

Lenovo didn’t deliver a ThinkPad that was entirely its design until 2008. That model, the ThinkPad X300, had a compact design as part of a push to develop laptops that were more mobile-friendly than ever. The computer’s ultrathin design drew comparisons to Apple’s MacBook Air.

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2015: ThinkPad X1 Carbon

2015 was a big year for the ThinkPad. In January, Lenovo announced that 100 million ThinkPad units had been sold since the product’s release in 1992. The company followed that announcement with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the latest update to its popular notebook line.

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2016: ThinkPad X1 Yoga

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga has proven to be one of the company’s most popular computers. Combining notebook functionality with tablet flexibility, the Yoga is a strong seller to this day. In 2016, it became the first Lenovo ThinkPad to come with an OLED display.

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