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Retro ThinkPad Would Revive Original IBM Design

Lenovo design chief David Hill is dreaming up a laptop reminiscent of the 1992 IBM ThinkPad 700c.
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Twenty-three years ago, the original IBM ThinkPad 700c hit the market. Its classic design, including a seven-row keyboard and blue Enter key, are still missed among tech fans loyal to the product.

Over the past 20-plus years, the ThinkPad design has undergone plenty of modifications, as has the structure of the company that spawned it. In 2005, Lenovo acquired IBM’s Personal Computing Division, its global PC (desktop and notebook computer) business, which included products such as the ThinkPad.

Now, rather than brainstorming the next wave of technology design, Lenovo design VP David Hill thinks it's time to go back to the iconic laptop's roots.

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Hill explained in a June 25 blog post how he has been thinking about a new and unique ThinkPad model, and is looking to garner support and ideas from fans of the original design. The device, he stated, would incorporate "all the latest technology advances" in a package that "embraces the original design details in the strongest way possible."

The concept is "retro ThinkPad," a product inspired by the original laptop design from Richard Sapper in 1992.

"Think of it like stepping into a time machine and landing in 1992, but armed with today's technology," Hill wrote. The device would also have a 18mm case.

Hill is calling on readers to envision a laptop with the classic blue Enter key, multi-colored ThinkPad logo, seven-row keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, rubberized paint, status LEDs, dedicated volume controls and exposed screws.

The idea of embracing an older design has worked well within the auto industry, he said, most notably with vehicles such as the Ford Mustang, Mini Cooper, Dodge Challenger and Fiat 500. The retro ThinkPad concept is not for everyone, Hill admitted, but he said in his blog that he believes in its potential because of the strong influence IBM's 1992 product had on the tech world.

The retro ThinkPad is still very much an idea, but Hill's brainstorming has already garnered plenty of support from tech aficionados who want to see it become reality. Bringing such a product to market would take a massive amount of time and effort, and the company wants to gauge whether the ThinkPad would generate enough sales to justify the investment.

"I'm certain there's a group of people who would stand in line to purchase such a special ThinkPad model," said Hill.

If you are one of those people, check out Hill's post, and tell us what you think in the comments section below.