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Prediction from 1985: No One Would Want a Portable Computer


(Photo: Robert Crouse-Baker)

Why on Earth would anyone have a use for a portable computer instead of or in addition to a desktop model? In a December 8, 1985 column in the New York Times, Erik Sandberg-Diment is dismissive of arguments that laptops just haven't become small and powerful enough to be useful. They're fundamentally a bad idea:

The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.

-via David Thompson


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At the time, there were:
- no Internet as we know it
- no cell phones
- severely limited hardware and software capabilities
- no foreseeable need of a portable computer
- no texting (ah... the good old days)

It's funny to see the old Star Trek characters from Next Gen to Voyager walk around and hand each other their computer pads ("Here's my report, Captain"). No concept of e-mail, wi-fi, or "cloud storage".
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