Innovate or die: How ThinkPad cracked the code to the wireless world
From the way we communicate to how we do our jobs, Wi-Fi has become an essential part of everyday life for many in the modern world. Being instantly connected means we can do things faster and more efficiently than ever before — trips to the store are now replaced with online shopping and lengthy phone calls with customer service can be skipped for chat support. So integrated into our personal lives, we don’t think twice about the simplicity of turning on our computers and hopping online.
In the early 2000s, the world was finally becoming accessible without wires. Realizing the new possibilities within this mobility, corporations started offering their employees technology that allowed them to work on the go — giving them wireless cards to stick in the side of their PCs. The setup worked well for bigger companies, but the average consumer needed a more integrated system — one that didn’t require buying a separate attachment or an IT team to install the software, drive and configuration.
Offering wireless connectivity to individual users was the way of the future, however the industry was still having trouble adapting the technology. Unsuccessful, tech companies were experiencing major problems when trying to implement an antenna into a laptop screen. Electrical interference kept blocking the radio signals that needed to be transmitted to connect the machine to the internet.
Undeterred by the challenge, the ThinkPad team held fast to the motto of “innovate or die” and came up with a solution with the ThinkPad i Series 1300. Embedding the laptop’s UltraConnect diversity antenna at the top of the screen rather than at the base, the design cut through the interference and delivered superior performance and clearer reception.
With the preconfigured system, individual users were no longer held back by varying wireless access points and programs. Instead, they could simply type in a password and instantly be connected. This standardization is what helped move the industry closer to how we now use mobile technology — seamlessly incorporating it into both our professional and personal lives.
By offering built-in wireless, the ThinkPad i Series 1300 not only expanded connectivity in laptops to individual users, but its design and engineering ingenuity is what began the uncompromised wireless experience that has been the hallmark of ThinkPads to this day.