Happy 25, ThinkPad!

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Over the span of my professional life to date, I have recommended one brand more than any other when it comes to laptops: The ThinkPad.

Originally created by IBM in 1992, the venerable ThinkPad line has seen many changes over it’s 25 year lifespan. Monochrome screens, floppy drives, optical drives, modems, 10mb, 100mb, 1gb Ethernet, WiFi, VGA, DVI, DP, HDMI, VGA still. screen ratios ranging from 4:3 to 16:10 to 16:9. Lights, backlit keys, chicket style, island style, detachable, no keyboards at all, touch screens, TN and IPS panels. The ThinkPad has seen it all. And it’s seen it all with the same classic black chassis, repairability, and iterations of mostly great keyboards. IBM passed the torch to Lenovo in 2007, in my opinion, the line hit it’s peak to date in the X220, W520, and T420 in 2012.

And now the ThinkPad is 25 years old. That is amazing longevity in computing. I’ve owned ThinkPads both at home and work since about 2000. On balance, the ThinkPads have been my favourite machines. Even when I didn’t like them that much (the first ThinkPad Tablet, the Helix, the Yoga), they’ve gotten the job done. I’ve certainly logged more time on ThinkPads than any other computer brand.

I have ThinkPads running Linux, every version of Windows, Solaris, Haiku OS, Corel Linux, and many more esoteric operating systems. They are my go-to brand, and are my first recommendations for traveling researchers. The on-site warranty is fabulous, the global support network is unrivaled.

They aren’t the slickest looking, they are rarely the thinnest, or lightest, or most brag-worthy, but they’re always solid, repairable, and reliable. They are expensive, quality machines.

They are the Volvo of laptops.

Today, Lenovo announced a limited edition ThinkPad to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the line. It’s a modified top-of-the-line T470 with what looks like my ideal keyboard from the X220. It is pretty much exactly what I would come up with if someone asked me to design the ideal laptop. It’s $2500CDN, which is high, but if I can find a way to buy it, I will. It seems like a very appropriate way to celebrate the line.

Some people have called for 4:3 screens and the Think light. I’d have liked that more, but the keyboard is the most important thing to me and they nailed that. If you were going to make a single model to call the 25th, this is the one I’d have chosen. As with the best ThinkPads over time, it’s the best compromise available. The epitome of ThinkPad. It looks to me to be the perfect celebration of the venerable line. I hope it sells like gangbusters and Lenovo goes back to this time-honoured design to the entire line.

It’s been a good 25 years, ThinkPad. May you continue to evolve but only slowly change.

GoSaBe Blog - Oct 5, 2017 | Hardware, Linux, ThinkPad