Who Invented the Laptop?


Probably since the first computer was created, users have wanted portable laptop versions to take with them for work and play. It wasn't until 1981, however, that the first portable---if very heavy---computer came on the market. It was short-lived but gave the laptop market its start.


  • Adam Osborne started publishing computer manuals in 1972. They sold well because his company specialized in making these manuals easy for people to follow to help them use computers better. This was before consumer home computers came on the market. In April 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak introduced the Apple I home computer that led to the revolution in computers worldwide.


  • Osborne sold his publishing company. He then launched his own computer company a few years after Apple. In 1981, he introduced the first portable computer. It weighed more than 23 pounds, so it was hard to call it a laptop.

Time Frame

  • It would be eight more years before Apple introduced the Macintosh Portable. Osborne had a long jump on other companies and made a lot of money with the bulky, small-screened units, but somehow managed to let the company collapse. It was defeated, largely because of the introduction in 1981 of IBM's first computers. While they weren't laptops, they began to snowball in sales, especially as software became more readily available. By 1983, Osborne was in bankruptcy.


  • Osborne had a turbulent life. Even after selling one business and losing another, he didn't quit. He started writing books, including "Hypergrowth: The Rise and Fall of the Osborne Computer Corporation," whichforeshadowed the dotcom bust of the early 2000s.


  • Osborne died in 1992. While his designs were not the way laptops eventually would evolve, he gave the computer world something to strive for and to best. Since his death, laptops have overtaken the sales of desktop models and have become many people's main computer choices.

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