What a laptop personal computer is and precedence of Toshiba T-1100

Dear Advocate:

We are sorry for our late reply.

Thank you for your comment that we need to demonstrate that Toshiba T1100 really was the very first laptop personal computer in the history of computing.

At the first, we would add a connotative meaning to your definition of “laptop personal computer” that “laptop personal computer” is a computer which can be used in anywhere, at anytime, by anyone.

1980s was incunabulum of portable computers. (List of early Laptops) Portable computers which released before “T1100” are listed in the chart. We are sorry but there are some blank columns which we could not find data.

Of course, early machines were not IBM PC Compatible. Because the first IBM PC 5150 was released in 1981, and established its market position in the following a few years. CP/M or other dedicated OS was used on these early compact machines.

The famous IBM PC compatible portable machine was Compaq Portable. Much software for IBM PC can be used on it. But it required AC power, so it was transportable but not really portable to be used anywhere.

PC-5000 (Sharp) and Encore (Osbone Computer) and some others had smaller screen than IBM PC.

In 1984, Data General released “Data General One (DG-1)” which hardware was a portable and compatible with IBM PC. But we cannot say it IBM PC compatible. It required external 5.25” FDD to run some important programs for IBM PC. Because “DG-1” had built-in 3.5” Floppy Disc Drive (FDD) and the original IBM PCs had 5.25” FDD when DG-1 was released. Most of key software, like Lotus 1-2-3 was supplied on 5.25” FD with copy protection. So users can not use them on DG-1 without external 5.25” FDD. Also, they say display of DG-1 had not enough contrast to be used in brighter or darker place. It was not be used in anywhere.[1]

The Toshiba’s concept for “T1100” was that it can be used in anywhere, at anytime, by anyone. So Toshiba developed “T1100” after many tests to select best compornents for a mobile device which fit to our concept. (High-Density Packaging Technologies including developing GA ”Gate Array ICs” which makes compact and low power consumption, High-contrast LCD, rechargeable battery and NMOS dynamic memory which makes cheaper to down the price to level for users to by “T1100” personally) [2]

In Japan, there are a famous “Senryu”, a short witty epigrammatic poem in Japan, “パソコンはソフトがなければただの箱” (Personal Computer. It is just a box if without software).

This Senryu was made after the release of “T1100”, but Toshiba has knew that software had been very important for computer. During engineers had been developing “T1100” in Japan, Mr. Atsutoshi Nishida who led the project at the time and is now Chairman of the Board of Director, Toshiba, visited developers which had been supplying key software for IBM PC which widely used in the world to ask release their software on 3.5” floppy disc. It was not easy negotiation, but finally it was succeeded and some key software, e.g. Lotus’s 1-2-3, Ashton-Tate’s dBase II and Microsoft Corp.'s Flight Simulator, were released in 3.5” FD. ("Developing Toshiba's first laptop" by IT World, April 20, 2005)

So, we believe that T1100 was the first laptop personal computer which establish real environment for users to use computers in anywhere, at anytime and by anyone.

So we would like to nominate “T1100” as “the first laptop computer”.

Thank you.

[1] “Portable & Handheld” (EPSON HC-88 & DATAGENERAL DG-1), ASCII Vol.9 #8 (P280-P285), August 1985, ASCII Corp.

[2] “PC-Compatible Laptop Computer”, Toshiba Review No. 157 (P26-P28), Autumn 1986, Toshiba Corp.


k.hsb00:28, 25 July 2012

First of all, congratulations for the investigation carried out about the state of the art of portable computers at the time Toshiba T-1100 was released. In my opinion, it is a very detailed study that must call our attention to be careful with the claim of this Milestone.

From the information provided, it seems that there were different portable computers before Toshiba T-1100 that deserve to be considered as “laptop computers”, although none of them could be considered “personal computers”, it is defended.

The “personal” concept is a very sensitive factor, indeed, to the aim of this Milestone. Eighties was still an age when IBM-compatibility did not always mean an assurance that all software developed for IBM PC would work in other compatible computers. For instance, in k.hsb’s post is said that DG-1 computer (Data General) is not IBM PC compatible because it came with a built-in 3.5’’ Floppy Disc Drive, when most of key IBM PC software at that time was supplied on 5.25’’ Floppy Discs. So users can not use that software on DG-1 without an external 5.25’’ Floppy Disc Drive. In my opinion, this is not a clear reason to reject a computer as IBM PC compatible. As well as, it is not an enough reason, in my understanding, to have a smaller screen than IBM PC for a computer not to be considered a “true” IBM PC compatible, as it is held in case of PC-5000 (Sharp) and Encore (Osborne), or not to have a built-in Floppy Disc Drive, as it happens in case of Dulmont Magnum (Dulmison). By the way, this last one had a built-in 256 Kb CMOS RAM memory, which could be allocated as a memory disc drive and used to store files like a conventional disk.

Taking again the five requirements of a portable computer to become considered a laptop personal computer shown in my last post, the first four of them have relation with the “laptop” concept, but only the fifth has to do with the “personal” concept. The “anywhere-anytime-anyone” paradigm used to defend the precedence of Toshiba T-1100 has much more to do with the “laptop” concept, so putting it forward to defend the precedence of Toshiba T-1100 could be an argument for the IEEE History Committee to reject the Milestone as it is claimed. So, my recommendation as Milestone’s advocate would be to change the claim and the citation of the Milestone by not using the word “first”.

Just a final remark, characteristics of Toshiba T-1100 in the list of Early Laptops are not coincident with the original brochure. In according to this one, size of Toshiba T-1100 was 311 x 305 x 66 mm, instead of 310 x 300 x 67 mm, it weighted 4.10 Kg., instead of 4.00 Kg., and the resolution of the display was 640 x 200 pixels, instead of 640 x 420 pixels.

Apyuste10:13, 2 August 2012

Thank you for your comment and advice, Apyuste-san.

We will reconsider the claim and citation. Please forgive us to take a slight time for it.

And we should apologize for our mistakes. You are right. I copied these data from our memo, but it was different from the data in catalog. I do not know the reason but we would like to correct them.

  size:    31.1 x 6.6 x 30.5 cm
  weight:  4.1 kg
  display: 640 x 200 pixels

Thank you very much.

k.hsb00:07, 8 August 2012

Dear Apyuste-san;

Thank you very much for your suggestion.

Even T1100 passes the name of the first laptop PC to DG-1 and "IBM PC compatible" does not mean an assurance that package software worked on it, we still believe that T1100 which was followed by T/J-3100 is a pioneer which opened the door to laptop PC world which connect to personal/mobile devices, now have bigger market share than Desktop PCs.

Those days, main target of PCs were PC experts who had used desktop PCs which had located at special space for PCs. Toshiba tried to change this situation with T1100, called “revolution on desk” internally. Toshiba did promotion for T1100 that T1100 could be used on desk connected with monitor and could be brought off from desk side with packaged software which users could select, while other PC’s leaflets insists their technical specification. This promotion expanded market not only for PC experts but for non-expert of PCs. Toshiba had got 40% share in European personal computer market in 1987. (Dataquest European Personal Computer Industry Service, July 1988)

To enable Toshiba to do this promotion, Toshiba developed T1100 as a portable office tool, using many technologies, e.g. High-Density Packaging Technologies including developing GA ”Gate Array ICs” which makes compact and low power consumption, High-contrast LCD, rechargeable battery, and NMOS dynamic memory. Also Toshiba developed much software, e.g. power management technology which improved to the current “ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface”.

Following T1100, Toshiba developed laptop PCs <T/J-3100> and established new category “notebook PC” in 1989 (J-3100 SS001 / T1000e).

Do you think we could change our claim like “Pioneer of Laptop Personal Computer, T1100”?

k.hsb23:52, 29 August 2012

I have no doubt about the relevance of Toshiba T-1100 in the development of laptop personal computers. It could be, in fact, the most successful out of all of those early laptop personal computers. So, such a citation as you are suggesting can be very appropriate to my point of view.

I think, however, that the noun “pioneer” can only be used to refer a person, being more correct to use the adjective “pioneering” in order to mention new ways of doing things, which others later follow. For example, “Pioneering work in the field of…” or “Pioneering contribution to the development of...”.

What about the citation: “Toshiba T-1100, a pioneering contribution to the development of laptop personal computers”, to name your milestone? Of course, needless to say the exact wording is subject to final discussion of the IEEE History Committee.

Apyuste09:52, 2 September 2012

Dear Apyuste-san:

Thank you very much for your good suggestion. Sometimes, we, non-natives, faces troubles to find good wording.

Do you know what we should do next? Should we modify nomination page, e.g. citation, historic significance and else?

k.hsb02:30, 3 September 2012

Many thanks for your understanding and collaboration. I am going now to make a consultation to the Research Coordinator of the IEEE History Center to know about how to proceed next.

Apyuste04:08, 3 September 2012

I understand. Please let us know if there were something we should do. We hope we would hear good result.

k.hsb04:33, 3 September 2012

Please, proceed to change the citation of the Nomination and whatever other required information more directly through the GHN platform and let the Research Coordinator of the IEEE History Center know about the new proposed Milestone's name by opening a new thread in this "wiki-page".

Thank you very much and congratulations for the great job carried out. Very best regards.

The Advocate

Apyuste08:10, 4 September 2012

Dear Apyuste-san:

Thank you very much for your suggestion and suport.

We will change these information and inform it to the Reserch Coordinator.

Best Regards

k.hsb19:04, 4 September 2012

Dear Apyuset-san:

Thank you very much for your support.

We have updated the application for Nomination following the discussion and your suggestions.

Pleae let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Best regards,

K. Hsb

k.hsb19:33, 1 October 2012

Hello. New title and citation are now very much better. I will recommend the approval of this Milestone to the IEEE History Committee.

Many thanks for your understanding and for the great job carried out. Best regards,

Antonio Perez Yuste

Apyuste04:52, 2 October 2012

Dear Mr. Yuste.

Thank you very much for your support and suggestions.

Do you mean that our application has passed not only

"B.3. Nominations Awaiting Advocate Approval"

but also

"B.4. Nominations Approved by Advocates and Awaiting Finalized Citations Approval from Nominators"


Best regards,

K. Hasebe

k.hsb05:28, 2 October 2012