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Toshiba Celebrates 20 Years In Notebook Market

Toshiba celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first notebook computer last month, with the introduction of several new business models and the launch of an updated libretto-branded ultra portable.

Twenty years ago Toshiba unveiled the T1100. For a computer geek, the 9-pound machine’s feature set is a true trip down memory lane. The T1100 used an Intel 4.77Mhz 80C88 processor, and it ran on Microsoft’s MS-DOS 2.11 operating system. Its storage capabilities consisted of a 720Kb 3.5-inch floppy drive and 512Kb of RAM. The black-and-white, 9.1-inch display had a 640 by 200 screen resolution, and there was an optional 14.4Kbps modem. The price tag was in excess of $4,000.

Since its launch of the T1100, Toshiba has recorded worldwide cumulative sales of more than 37 million notebook computers through 2004, according to industry analysts IDC.

The following years saw Toshiba add an Intel 286 processor to the unit and an internal hard drive. The first internal CD-ROM did not appear until 1995, the year after Toshiba picked up Intel’s new Pentium processor line.

The company’s celebratory launch on April 20 included a newly revamped U100 Libretto along with several Tecra business class units. A company spokesman said consumer models in honor of the 20th anniversary will be announced in May.

The Libretto, originally rolled out in 1996 as the industry’s first ultra-portable notebook, has been updated to include an Intel Pentium M processor with Ultra Low Voltage technology running a 1.2GHz, a 7.2-inch display, 512MB of RAM and 60GB hard drive; it features 802.11g wireless connectivity, and the unit weighs in at 2.16 pounds. It is not intended for the consumer market but will sell through distribution with a $1,999 suggested price.

“Mobile computer growth rates now outpace those of desktop PCs, and it’s a testament to Toshiba’s commitment to research and development that the company was able to launch not just a product but an entire industry,” said Mark Simons, Toshiba’s VP /general manager.