back to article Laptop innovator Moggridge dies aged 69

The British designer of the world’s first clamshell-style laptop, Bill Moggridge, has died aged 69. His creation, the GRiD Compass (below), was a 4.6-kg, $8,000-plus monster – but it was influential enough for Moggridge to be honoured in 2010 with the Prince Philip Designer Prize, and as noted in this story from the time, his …


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  1. banjomike
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic kit, for the day.

    I used the Compass and many of the later GRiDs. The magnesium case was heavy but when a london bus drove over one of our GRiDs the screen (and modem) survived and was swapped into another machine! Try THAT with ANYTHING today.

    Their biggest drawback was with the batteries and power supplies. Battery life could be 30 minutes and with the later machines the power brick was encased in perforated steel and fitted INSIDE the magnesium case. The temperatures could, and did, raise blisters and in one case burned a carpet.

    Good days.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: Fantastic kit, for the day.

      Did you remember to put the legs down?

      There were no fans and relied on convection to cool the machine. If the legs were down, and you were using it on a flat surface, like you were supposed to use it, you wouldn't burn your shag carpet, but yes, to your point, the able's surface did get warm...

  2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Bubble RAM

    Aaaaah :)

  3. Marvin the Martian

    Prince Charles Designer Prize?

    At least he didn't try to win that one, or it'd have been mock Tudor, or Georgian.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wasn't one of these laptops used in the Aliens movie as the sentry gun controller.

  5. DougS Silver badge


    Actually preceded this guy's first "laptop". Granted it was a terminal not a computer, but it had the same basic hardware except it included a thermal printer (and 300 bps acoustic coupler modem) instead of a display. Built to fit in a suitcase. Not exactly light, I feel badly for anyone who ever had to lug this around with them on the road!

    1. Dick

      Re: TI-700

      Silent 700? Not remotely the same thing.

      1. Joni Kahara

        Re: TI-700

        Cloud computing?

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: TI-700

      Not only did you miss the point in the article, that it was the first CLAMSHELL computer, but you're wrong about the TI-700, also.

      It was the Epson HX-20 that was the first laptop computer.

      Or possibly the Casio FP-200, though it was labelled a 'Handheld computer'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TI-700

        Actually there were a couple of different portables, but this was the 'first laptop' although you would never want to put it on your lap.

        I was a senior in high school when I was working in a computer store after school were we sold them. I actually had to get a note saying I was going to a doctor's appointment so I could attend a meeting w Grid reps. (one of the reps had a PhD so I did have a legitimate excuse ;-)

        It was also on the space shuttle, however that model had a fan, for obvious reasons...

        While it was heavy, it was lighter than the KayPro or Osbourne transportables. Also the 'bubble memory' was the first non volatile memory in a pc.

        There's more but we're talking close to 30 years ago...

  6. Walter Ramekin

    Ah, memories

    I used to cycle round Edinburgh with one of these in my pannier.

    Shuttle Portable Onboard Computer ... or ... SPOC.

  7. cortland

    I may have a couple of the power supplies in my junk box.

    I worked on Electromagnetic Interference for about 5 years at AST Research, and when they closed the Fountain Valley plant, I bought a few of the power supplies -- and also one of the prototype GriD Convertibles* I'd worked on. Tandy Electronics had bought GriD some years previous, and then sold the computer bushiness to AST.


    Haven't turned it on in _years_.

    How are the mighty fallen; by the time AST was taken over by creditor Samsung, I'd already quit -- the handwriting on the wall was in Korean.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      "Taken over by Samsung"

      Must... resist... obligatory .... joke ....about .... lack of rounded corners.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: "Taken over by Samsung"


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First "Clamshell" Laptop?

    Surely that was the Macintosh Portable...?

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: First "Clamshell" Laptop?

      That was a joke, right?

      The Mac Portable didn't arrive until 1989.

      Mine's the one with a very, very large pocket...

  9. Count Ludwig
    Thumb Up

    Space shuttle connection

    Did you know it was used aboard the space shuttle (RIP) ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did you know it was used aboard the space shuttle?

      Well yes, I did read the article.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My dad came home with one of these when I was 5. He was working for the DoD and I found a war simulation programme on there that allowed you to place and manage resources on a map. Kinda boring, but I had fun playing with the function to nuke resources if you typed ctrl-N or something and it drew a little mushroom cloud animation. Apparently there was much shock when he went in to show the guys he was working with because no one realised the programmers had built this nuke function in to the app.

    Of course, it was a couple of years later that I saw WarGames with Mathew Broderick and realised how terribly wrong my mucking about might have gone :)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Year of GRiD and GRID.

    Lest we forget.

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