Happy 15th Birthday, Thinkpad / A Slightly Saucy ThinkPad Story

ThinkPad 700c

According to The Register, today is the 15th birthday of the Thinkpad, the laptop originally made by IBM and now Lenovo. Aside from re-establishing IBM’s reputation as a computer hardware manufacturer and becoming an icon for businessperson on the go, the ThinkPad is also notable for popularizing the TrackPoint controller.

And Now, The Saucy ThinkPad Story

IBM TrackPoint controller
Image borrowed from Coding Horror — it’s from the Touchpad vs. Trackpoint article.

My co-worker at OpenCola, Helen Waters, told me this story.

Helen was our tech person was OpenCola (this was back in the late ’90’s), making sure that people got the machines they needed, that their software got installed and so on. One day, she had presented a woman at the office with her new company-assigned ThinkPad whose pointing device, naturally enough, was a TrackPoint.

The woman, who’d used only mice and touchpads before, had no idea how to mouse around with the TrackPoint and began tapping on it as if it were a button — first a couple of tentative taps, and then taps in rapid succession — with predictable results.

Helen stepped in and quickly demonstrated the TrackPoint principle. She reached in and with her finger, pointed the TrackPad the way it was meant to be used — like a tiny joystick.

“It figures,” said the woman, “It was obviously designed by a man.”

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