Laptop Trivia (Portable and lug-able computers)

I’m up next for a new laptop at Geek For Hire, so I’ve been thinking about all the computers I’ve had.

HP Luggable:

I remember carrying my first laptop through the Pittsburgh airport. At the time it was called a “portable computer”, and technically it was, although Chris called it a “luggable”. The computer was made by Hewlett-Packard, had a separate disk drive, a separate printer, and may or may not have had an internal battery. (We can’t remember.) It had a very small (5″?) black & white screen and ran on DOS 2.11. Of course, I needed to bring all of this with me on my business trips. All together they probably weighed 25 or 30 pounds and I would have deep indentations in my shoulders when I arrived at my destination!

The HP 110 laptop used the MS-DOS 2.11 operating system
The HP 110 used the MS-DOS 2.11 operating system

My new laptop will weigh about three pounds and will be a gazillion times faster.

First Portable Computers – a precursor to the Laptop:

The portable computer was first imagined by Alan Kay of Xerox in 1968. He wrote a paper at that time and called it a “Dynabook”. A commercially available portable computer didn’t appear on the scene until 1975 when IBM released their SCAMP 5100. (For you acronym junkies, that’s Special Computer APL Machine Portable, and it was based on the PALM processor or Put All Logic in Microcode.)

Those first portable computers weighed around 24 pounds, had a 5″ CRT screen and a 5.25″ floppy drive for storing your data. Following Moore’s Law, laptops became faster and lighter relatively quickly.

Moore’s law:

The observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

Zeos 386:

Chris’ first portable machine was a Zeos 386, which he got when he was a consultant for Chase. It ran the DOS 5.0 operating system, had a backlit screen, and a battery that lasted for two hours! And, at only 9 pounds, it was light as a feather compared to my HP. Of course, we still have it:

Zeos 386 laptop - MS-DOS 5.0 - manufactured in 1990
Zeos 386 – MS-DOS 5.0 – manufactured in 1990

All of the Utilities for the machine were kept on the boot disk:

Zeos laptop Boot Disk
Zeos Boot Disk

When did you get your first laptop or portable computer? Which operating system did it use? Let us know in the comments below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years.  His company is highly rated by both the BBB and by Angie’s List.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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What Is a Solid State Drive and Why Do I Need One?

For the past five years or so, whenever Chris had to replace a hard drive in a Mac or PC, or is designing a new computer for a customer, he always recommends that they get a Solid State Drive (SSD), rather than the traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD).   Why?

First of all, here’s a great explanation from PC Magazine of how a HDD saves your data:

“The traditional spinning hard drive (HDD) is the basic nonvolatile storage on a computer. That is, it doesn’t “go away” like the data on the system memory when you turn the system off. Hard drives are essentially metal platters with a magnetic coating. That coating stores your data, whether that data consists of weather reports from the last century, a high-definition copy of the Star Wars trilogy, or your digital music collection. A read/write head on an arm accesses the data while the platters are spinning in a hard drive enclosure.”

And here’s a description from TechTerms on how the Solid State Drive works:

“While SSDs serve the same function as hard drives, their internal components are much different. Unlike hard drives, SSDs do not have any moving parts (which is why they are called solid state drives). Instead of storing data on magnetic platters, SSDs store data using flash memory. Since SSDs have no moving parts, they don’t have to “spin up” while in a sleep state and they don’t need to move a drive head to different parts of the drive to access data. Therefore, SSDs can access data faster than HDDs.”

For a long time, I just didn’t get it. Why is “newer” always “better” for these geeks?! Chris patiently explained to me some of the benefits.

More Robust:
Because a Solid State Drive has no moving parts, there aren’t any parts to break. This makes the SSD perfect for those who don’t count “grace” as one of their better qualities. It’s also a better choice for frequent travelers

Speed:
SSD’s are faster. I’ve read that they are 100 times faster than HDD’s. Machines with an SSD will boot faster, open programs faster, transfer files faster. Games process more quickly too. When seconds count, choose an SSD.

Lighter:
When you’re lugging a laptop through an airport, you want to shed every excess ounce that you can.  SSD’s weigh slightly less than the HDD’s.

Downside:
SSD’s are more expensive to purchase than HDD’s. But, considering that the SSD will last longer, that’s only a short term problem.

Here are some additional articles on why the SSD is a better choice:
PC Magazine / OCZ / ThinLabs

Purchasing Recommendations:
If you are looking into purchasing a new SSD, C|NET has some great recommendations here.

Once you get your new SSD, we can help you install it – just give us a call!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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