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Laptop Computers

Computer Studies Laptop

As the personal computer became feasible in the early 1970s, the idea of a portable personal computer followed. A "personal, portable information manipulator" was imagined by Alan Kay at Xerox PARC in 1968, and described in his 1972 paper as the "Dynabook". The IBM SCAMP project (Special Computer APL Machine Portable), was demonstrated in 1973. This prototype was based on the IBM PALM processor (Put All Logic In Microcode or 128 bit).

The IBM 5100, the first commercially available portable computer, appeared in September 1975, and was based on the SCAMP prototype. As 8-bit CPU machines became widely accepted, the number of portables increased rapidly. The Osborne 1, released in 1981, used the Zilog Z80 and weighed 23.6 pounds (10.7 kg). It had no battery, a 5 in (13 cm) CRT screen, and dual 5.25 in (13.3 cm) single-density floppy drives. In the same year the first laptop-sized portable computer, the Epson HX-20, was announced. The Epson had a LCD screen, a rechargeable battery, and a calculator-size printer in a 1.6 kg (3.5 lb) chassis. Both Tandy/RadioShack and HP also produced portable computers of varying designs during this period.

The first laptops using the flip form factor appeared in the early 1980s. The Dulmont Magnum was released in Australia in 1981-82, but was not marketed internationally until 1984-85. The $8,150 ($19,630 today) GRiD Compass 1100, released in 1982, was used at NASA and by the military among others. The Gavilan SC, released in 1983, was the first computer described as a "laptop" by its manufacturer. From 1983 onward, several new input techniques were developed and included in laptops, including the touchpad (Gavilan SC, 1983), the pointing stick (IBM ThinkPad 700, 1992) and handwriting recognition (Linus Write-Top, 1987). Some CPUs, such as the 1990 Intel i386SL, were designed to use minimum power to increase battery life of portable computers, and were supported by dynamic power management features such as Intel SpeedStep and AMD PowerNow! in some designs.

Displays reached VGA resolution by 1988 (Compaq SLT/286), and colour screens started becoming a common upgrade in 1991 with increases in resolution and screen size occurring frequently until the introduction of 17"-screen laptops in 2003. Hard drives started to be used in portables, encouraged by the introduction of 3.5" drives in the late 1980s, and became common in laptops starting with the introduction of 2.5" and smaller drives around 1990; capacities have typically lagged behind physically larger desktop drives. Optical storage, read-only CD-ROM followed by writeable CD and later read-only or writeable DVD and Blu-ray, became common in laptops soon in the 2000s.

Laptops still use the same operating systems as desktop computers; hard drives are partitioned and formatted in the same way, keyboards function in much the same way. You can attach peripherals such as a printer or scanner, input data from flash drives, digital cameras etc. Use the internet, send and receive e-mails, play your video or music files create your text and graphical images, transfer and backup your files to external hard drives or flash drives, all with the added ability of being able to take this with you when you travel, a portable office or home entertainment system that is small and lightweight and can be transported with relative ease.

There are fundamental differences between desktop and laptop computers, with a laptop computer the CPUs need to reduce their size, power usage, and heat generation, Ram modules, hard drives and wireless cards use a smaller form factor, and input and output ports can be specific to the requirements of the individual make and model which means that there is no real motherboard form factor as there is with desktop computers. If you're looking to increase the laptops functionality to have desktop capabilities, where you can utilise external monitors, keyboards, optical drives, 5.1 sound systems etc. this can be done by the various connectors like USB, RJ45 for Ethernet connectivity, AGP and DVI for external monitors, these connectors can be found around the outside edges of the laptop, most modern laptop computers now have built-in wireless functionality increasing the capabilities even further by bringing easy access to the internet when you are on the move, making portable computing attractive, affordable and readily available to a mass market.

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