Xerox NoteTaker

The Xerox NoteTaker is an early laptop. It was developed at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, California, in 1978. Although it did not come into production, and only a dozen prototypes were built, it heavily influenced the design of the Osborne 1 laptops and Compaq.

The NoteTaker was developed by a team consisting of Adele Goldberg, Douglas Fairbairn and Larry Tesler. He draws heavily on previous research by Alan Kay, who had already developed the Dynabook project. While the Dynabook was a concept for a transportable computer that was impossible to implement with available technology, the NoteTaker was meant to show what could be done. The computer was using what was then a very advanced technology, including a built-in monochrome display monitor, a floppy disk drive, and a mouse. It had 256 KB of RAM, then a very large amount, and used an Intel 8086 5 MHz processor. He used a version of the Smalltalk operating system originally written for the Xerox Alto computer, pioneering the graphical user interface. The NoteTaker is mounted in a case similar in shape to that of a portable sewing machine; the keyboard unfolded from the bottom to reveal the monitor and the floppy drive. The form factor was later used on popular “luggage” computers, including the Osborne 1 and Compaq Portable. However, these last models were about half as heavy as NoteTaker, which weighed 22 kg (48 lb).

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