Lenovo's X300 Laptop Almost Revived the Butterfly Keyboard

From a Business Week cover story about the X300's development:

Hill's other idea was to make the PC very small, less than 10 inches across and less than one inch thick. Yet he wanted it to have a full-size keyboard, so he dusted off a design from the mid-1990s: a keyboard that folded up when the laptop was closed and opened out to full size when the machine was opened. The "butterfly" keyboard had caused a sensation when it was first introduced on a ThinkPad in 1995. ... During a meeting at Sapper's modernistic, V-shaped home on Italy's Lake Como, the 75-year-old design legend urged Hill to make the fold-out keyboard deploy automatically, rather than requiring the owner to snap it into place. By midsummer, Hill handed his ideas over to the Yamato engineers to see what would really work.

A 10-inch sub-notebook with an automatically expanding fold-out keyboard? I don't know if it would have seen better sales, but it sounds awfully neat. Perhaps a bit too anachronistic.

Building the Perfect Laptop [BusinessWeek]

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5 Comments

  1. I loved the folding keyboard; that laptop was a really cool machine. But a 10″ screen really is too small for me, and probably too small for most people to spend $3000 for. So they may have made the right choice, this time.

    ‘Course, they should still have put a folding keyboard in. Just for coolness.

  2. Was that the same laptop that was in Robocop? I remember (I think it was the second one?) that one computer-smarts-gal had onea laptop with a folding out keyboard, but I never knew what model it was. I always assumed it was a movie prop.(And very well may be…)

  3. Well the ThinkPad 701C came out in 1996, I think, and Robocop 2 came out in 1990. So it probably was a prop. A very prescient one, though!

  4. The butterfly keyboard’s unique design was so awesome for the time. I hope to see it return, because small-format laptops like the EeePC have the most agonizing keyboard sizes…

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