Setting the bar for 25 years: the ThinkPad that started it all
Purposeful but powerful, sleek but never showy: The ThinkPad has stayed true to its signature elements since first debuting in 1992. Inspired by the black lacquered Japanese bento box, the elegant design holds all the carefully-crafted ingredients for the perfect user experience. This harmonious heritage can be traced back to the very first ThinkPad laptop, the 700C. Breaking convention, this innovative technology is what first inspired our engineers to study human behavior and place the user at the heart of the experience.
But it was actually a damaged and returned 700C that caused the man known as the father of the ThinkPad to take on a different approach when it came to device design. “My expectation was that the user would handle this one very carefully and never drop it,” says Arimasa Naitoh, former lead engineer for the first ThinkPad and current Lenovo Fellow and Vice President, Product Group.
However, when he saw the returned 700C with every corner damaged along with a bruised hinge, he knew he had to change his focus. “What I need to see is not here,” he says motioning to the ThinkPad, “I need to see the customer behind the product.”
Instead of passively assuming people would treat their devices a certain way, Naitoh-san and his engineers began exploring how they were actually using them. Based on their findings, they began evolving their testing to ensure the product line was held to the highest standard — one that the ThinkPad team has met for the past 25 years.
These days, the obsession to build the best possible user experience can be exemplified in numbers alone – with over 100 million ThinkPads bought worldwide and at a current rate of 25 per minute. Looking back, this impact can be traced to the 700C and how it guided ThinkPad designers to take on a different mindset. In doing so, the revolutionary laptop not only spurred ThinkPads to withstand human life but also transform it: impacting global education, healthcare and science – to name a few – completely changing the way information is used when it’s right at our fingertips.