It may have taken 31 years, but the British designer of the world’s first laptop has been honoured this week with a lifetime achievement award, according to the BBC.
Bill Moggridge developed the Grid Compass computer in 1979, taking a further three years to get the product to market. It’s black clamshell case protected an Intel 8086 processor, a 320 x 240 electroluminescent display, 340KB of memory and a 1,200 bit/s modem – a crazy-high specification for the era, which explained its $8-10,000 ticket price. Like many of the computers of the early 80s, the Compass ran its own operating system, Grid OS.
According to Wikipedia, the US government were one of the Grid Compass’ major customers, and 1985, the computer was launched into the stratosphere on the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Whilst Grid Systems Corp was acquired by Tandy Corporation in 1988, Moggridge wasn’t finished and went on to found design-shop IDEO, developing products for a vast array of companies including Microsoft’s second mouse, the Palm V PDA and a host of household products lining the shelves of your local mega-mart.
When not receiving awards, Moggridge is director of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York. Past winners of the Prince Philip Designers Prize include Sir James Dyson (you may have heard of his vacuum cleaners), designer Terence Conran and architect Lord Norman Foster. I’m sure even they rely today on mobile PCs that were created from Bill Moggridge's vision over 30 years ago.
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