Lenovo teases retro-themed ThinkPad

June 29, 2015 // 11:35 a.m.

Tags: #david-hill #design #ibm #ibm-thinkpad #lenovo #lenovo-thinkpad #retro #richard-sapper #thinkpad #tom-hardy

Lenovo is asking its customers' opinions ahead of a potential manufacturing run of retro-themed ThinkPad laptops, based on Richard Sapper's 1990 design.

Originally an IBM brand and sold, along with the company's other consumer-facing businesses, to Chinese computing giant in 2005, the ThinkPad family has long been loved as much for their blocky black design as despite it. In recent years, Lenovo's ThinkPads have gradually shifted away from the blocky style of Sapper's original design, created in 1990 in partnership with IBM's design programme head Tom Hardy and launched as the ThinkPad 700C in 1992. That's something Lenovo is thinking about changing, and it's looking for feedback from its customers.

'For a while now I’ve been exploring the idea of introducing a very unique ThinkPad model. Imagine a ThinkPad that embodies all the latest technology advances, however, embraces the original design details in the strongest way possible. I’ve been referring to the concept as retro ThinkPad,' explained Lenovo's design chief David Hill in a blog post announcing the project. 'Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-colour ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberised paint, exposed screws, lots of status LEDs, and more. Think of it like stepping into a time machine and landing in 1992, but armed with today’s technology. Although not for everyone, I’m certain there’s a group of people who would stand in line to purchase such a special ThinkPad model.'

While the retro-inspired design currently exists simply as a series of renders, based largely on the ThinkPad X300, Hill has indicated that a production run is not out of the question, if demand proved high enough. 'I’d like to test the resilience of building a historically inspired ThinkPad with potential customers and also get overall design feedback as we plan the next generation of ThinkPad offerings. Please remember actually bringing a retro inspired ThinkPad to market would require significant sales volumes to justify the development effort and tooling expense. I can’t promise anything at this point, it’s an idea. If you think Lenovo should make the retro inspired ThinkPad, or have suggestions on how to make it better, please post your comments here. We're listening.'
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