Lenovo is having a birthday celebration this week in Yokohama, Japan as the ThinkPad, today the defacto standard high-quality business notebooks, turns 25.
Few brands in the technology world reach such a milestone as qualifying for a massive discount on car insurance, fewer yet remain distinctly recognizable over such a duration. A ThinkPad from the early 90s and one sold today would no doubt differ in certain ways as computing has evolved, but both would be unmistakably similar in design – jet black, red TrackPoint, and extremely solid construction - which was inspired be the look of a Japanese bento lunchbox (because it only exposes its true nature when opened).
It’s no secret that ThinkPad didn’t originate under the Lenovo banner, but started as a project spearheaded by IBM’s Yamato Lab research arm in the early 1990s. The resulting first products in the ThinkPad line, the 700, 700C (the first notebook with a color TFT display), and 700T, became an international success that won more than 300 awards for quality and design. Most importantly, extreme use of ThinkPad computers caused IBM to rethink quality standards a few years after, which resulted in the “torture-tests” that ThinkPads are subjected to as part of the design and manufacturing process.
The understated (yet classically attractive design), forward-looking approaches in form and function, as well as an impressive commitment to quality standards, have resulted in ThinkPad being an icon in portable computers over the past quarter-century.
Lenovo acquired IBM’s personal PC division in 2005, along with the ThinkPad brand, and deserves credit for not just continuing the formula for success that IBM developed, but driving ThinkPad forward in an age of constantly changing technologies and increased competition. Many product lines and brands falter under new ownership, but Lenovo has continued to cherish the brand by showing incredible respect not only to the products themselves and the businesses who rely on them, but to their channel partners responsible for its incredible growth.
Over the next week, the ChannelPro Network will be your exclusive channel-focused publication live on the scene in Yokohama Japan to get a behind-the-scenes look at how ThinkPads are designed and tested, as well as take a closer look at the history of ThinkPad, some of the iconic models and milestones, and much more.