25 years of ThinkPad changing the world
< Back to grid

How the ThinkPad came to survive almost anything

From dropping our laptops off extreme heights to drenching them with milk, the ThinkPad team has created a testing facility that’s so rigorous and thorough that it’s been dubbed “the torture chamber.” Adapting to industry changes ever since launching the first ThinkPad, we’ve held this line to high standards over the years, ensuring our laptops have what it takes to survive whatever the world throws their way. But nothing could have ever prepared our team for the abuse that students inflicted on our products.

Around 2000 and 2001, ThinkPad began expanding beyond the corporate market and into the educational world. While sales began taking off across universities, private high schools and even some parochial middle schools, the number of failure rates were also increasing. Keyboards were breaking, LCD screens were being damaged and motherboards were malfunctioning. However, we weren’t alone — the entire industry was experiencing similar problems as more students started using laptops.

Sending our engineers out to campuses to investigate what exactly was causing more problems, we discovered students were treating ThinkPads in ways we had not imagined. Crushing down with their entire weight, they’d sit on their backpacks with the laptops inside. Eating snacks while working on their ThinkPads, they’d drop crumbs that would wedge into the keyboard. Some students would go so far as to pop off the keys to their ThinkPads out of sheer boredom.

Horrified with how they saw their beloved creations being so carelessly and roughly handled, our ThinkPad engineers returned to the lab determined to find a solution. Realizing that they couldn’t change the mindset or behavior of students — who expected their devices to work no matter how they treated them — they instead moved forward to making ThinkPads even tougher.

Screen-hinge test
Screen-hinge test

In the torture chamber, the team created new, specialized ways to test ThinkPads based on what our engineers learned on campus. For instance, after seeing students eat potato chips while using their laptops, we started blasting ThinkPads with sand and short fibers to see if they would work their way into the machine. If they did, we’d come up with new designs to prevent it from happening in the future.

After extensively subjecting our ThinkPads to unspeakable horrors, we established a new standard of reliance by the mid 2000s. Failure rates plummeted and our products reached the maturity levels of today. Now, with our 12 mil spec and 200+ torture tests, our engineers have devised ways to put our machines under even more stringent examination. We freeze our ThinkPads at frigid temperatures for 72 hours, run them at dizzying altitudes of 15,000 feet and use them as target practice, dropping down metal balls from heights of over a meter.

Keyboard test
Keyboard test

While American students forced us to take quality control to a whole new level, they also proved the ThinkPad team as industry pioneers. Setting the bar for a product line that’s known and trusted for its ruggedness and reliability, we’ve created machines that can withstand all the highs, lows, knocks and spills that inevitably come with life.

Intel® Core™ Processors Intel Inside®. Powerful Productivity Outside.

It’s not a laptop. It’s a ThinkPad.

To learn more about ThinkPads and shop the newest laptops and tablets, visit Lenovo.com.

Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.