The MetaPad: A Disembodied Computer

Personal Computers have changed very little in the last two decades in how they look and how we use them. A user approaches the computer and sits in front of it, viewing information on a display, and providing input via a keyboard and a navigation device, whether a mouse, trackball, pointing stick or touchpad. Much of the configuration and interface has remained constant for the last two decades. The biggest change in the life of the PC was in 1990 when Microsoft released version 3.0 of the Windows
operating system with a Graphical User Interface and a mouse was included for navigation, modeled after the user interface of the Alto Computer developed by XEROX PARC in the 1970s. Since that addition, much of the way that a PC is used has stayed constant. Notebook computers arose within the first five years of the PC, initially as luggables, seen first as the Osborne I, weighing 25 lbs. Notebook computers were mostly a form change from the desktop computer that allowed the PC to be brought to mobile work locations. As far as usability, notebook computers are essentially desktop computers that have been made small, retaining much of the same user interface as the desktop computer. Technological advances that enabled the success of notebook computers include thin and light LCD panels, improved battery technology and increased disk storage density. These technologies enabled notebook computers to be built with performance that was acceptably close to desktop technology.

By: Kenneth B. Ocheltree, James R. Moulic, Robert S. Olyha Jr

Published in: RC22842 in 2003


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