The desire for the thinnest, lightest possible portable computer is a whole lot older than Apple’s MacBook Air. In 1987, nearly 25 years ago, my Toshiba T1000 was as light, portable and affordable as you could get.
At 6.4 pounds, the T1000 was a bit heavy by today’s standards. It included a 4.77MHz 8088 processor, 512K RAM, monochrome display, CGA graphics tech (320×240 resolution) for an external CGA monitor and a single 720K floppy drive.
But it booted so fast. That fast booting ability came from a unique design feature: MS-DOS 2.11 was installed in and booted from ROM. The system also let you store frequently used files in a small virtual drive in RAM.
The T1000 was one of the first clamshell notebook designs — and it had a retail price of $1000. Although it looks gigantic compared to today’s slim notebooks, it was as portable as you could get at the time. And though its specs pale today next to, say, an iPod Nano, it was a screamer in 1987.
The T1000 provided a full complement of ports: Serial, parallel, external floppy drive, CGA out, composite video out and external numeric keypad. It also had a carrying handle you could pulled from a slot on the bottom of the case. Unlike many of today’s notebooks, the T1000 had a keyboard that felt like.
Sure the T1000’s tiny display looks archaic next to the modern MacBook Air.But it sure served road warriors like me well. As you can tell from my photos, my LCD broke and leaked — that’s how much I used it.