Laptop definition: Also called notebooks, laptops are portable computers with integrated monitors, powered by rechargeable batteries. You will say but that’s not all! They are lightweight, small and you have to close the lid to be able to carry it. Sorry to disappoint you, but as you will see in a few moments, laptops weren’t always like that; the small dimension and light weight were not actually standards.
Laptop Computer Parts
Inside, most laptop computers integrate a motherboard, memory chip, the graphics chip, a hard disk, sound chip, optical drive, the processor, CPU heat sink, a cooling fan, network chip, the battery, and an ExpressCard expansion bay for Firewire, external disk drives, SSD drives, wireless modules, TV tuners, additional memory, and card readers, while being encased in a metal-alloy material that houses also the display in the lid, keyboard and touchpad.
Laptop processors, also called mobile processors, are designed specifically for these small, portable computers, and feature lower power consumption compared to those powering desktop computers. Also, mobile hard disk drives are smaller and have a spinning speed of 5400 rpm and up to 7200 rpm in premium models. The graphics chips are usually integrated on the motherboard using part of the system memory, but the high-end models come with dedicated video memory for improved performance. Touchpads replacing computer mice, measure about 20 cm2 and work based on capacitive sensing technology feeling the pressure of your finger and moving the cursor on the screen.
All laptop computer parts are developed in smaller and smaller dimensions as the manufacturing companies tend to design lighter weight models reduced in size.
First Laptop Created
The history of the laptop sends us back in April 1976, when Xerox PARC developed the first portable computer prototype called Xerox NoteTaker. It never reached mass production but it was the inspiration source for the first commercially available notebook. Xerox NoteTaker was designed by Alan Key, Adele Goldberg, Douglas Fairbairn, and Larry Tesler. It featured a built-in monochrome display monitor, 128K 8-bit memory, 1MHz processing speed, a floppy disk drive, foldable keyboard and a mouse, using the Smalltalk operating system. The weight was of 22 Kg and the production costs were incredibly high, reaching $50,000, at the time of introduction.
One of the most important steps in the history of the laptop is the one taken in 1981 by Osborne Computer Corporation that released the world’s first portable computer on the market at a price of $1795. Osborne 1 was called after its designer’s name, Adam Osborne, who created the 24.5-pound laptop powered by a Zilog Z80 processor featuring 4MHz speeds, 64K RAM memory, a 5-inch display with 53 x 24 text resolution, IEEE-488 port configurable as a Parallel printer port, RS-232 compatible 1200 or 300 baud Serial port for use with external modems or serial printers, modem, dual 5-1/4 inches 91K drives for storage, single sided, single density floppy disk drives, and the CP/M operating system.
The first portable computer could be closed up and was coming with a carrying handle, and optional battery pack. It was capable to display maximum 52 characters per line but the user had the possibility to scroll back and forth using the cursor keys, and read up to 128 characters.
It was also the world’s first computer coming with software bundle, priced at $1500, which included a CP/M utility, SuperCalc spreadsheet, WordStar word processing with MailMerge, Microsoft MBASIC programming language, and Digital Research CBASIC programming language.
Laptop vs Desktop Computers
It’s clear that if you use a computer mostly in an office or at home you should stay on the desktop PC and get a notebook only if you have to use the applications while on the go. I am saying this because, as you already know, laptops are not powerful than desktop PCs when we take into account the processing speeds and graphic capabilities. The portability, light weight and the slim keyboard are the laptop benefits, but if we discuss about the disadvantages of laptops, the first problem we meet is the upgradeability level, which is way lower than in the desktops case. This is because you can’t upgrade the entire notebook configuration and if you replace just some parts they won’t be compatible with the ones existent anymore.
Motherboards, keyboards and batteries are proprietary in design and only the original manufacturer can replace them. You can interchange the hard drive and the memory.
Other disadvantages include the high costs of the components, poor ergonomics, easiness to be stolen, and the integration of the keyboard on which you could accidentally spill liquids on, damaging this way the motherboard and the display. To change one of these 2 broken parts would cost you as much as a brand new laptop.
In conclusion, laptops provide more convenience for mobile use but have raised maintenance costs.
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