1985 First Student Laptop Program

This year saw two very major events.  The first use of laptop computers and the award of the $2 million IBM Management of Information Systems grant.

The HP110 Issued to Executive MBA Students

In 1985, HP -- in an extremely visionary way ­ introduced a laptop computer, the HP110. (Click here for a picture and technical inforamtion on this pioneering portable). I recall at a non-disclosure briefing at the Palo Alto HQ how one of the engineers explained that HP wanted to combine its growing computer knowledge and capability with its leadership in the hand-held calculator field.  They wanted to put the big-computers into their small-calculators.  The HP110 was the result.  It was about the size of todayís standard laptop computers in a clam-shell case.  It used a full-size keyboard and a 12 inch LCD monitor which was clearest when light was directed onto the screen.  To make it all work out, all software was on a ROM chip.  One chip had the operating system and a second slot contained a combination of Word Perfect and Lotus 1-2-3.  There was RAM which was partitioned by the users into main memory and storage. Input/output required connecting up a separate floppy disk or printer.  But what a wonder -- instant on, relatively light so very portable, and designed for the business user.  The following year HP replaced all the 110s with 110Pluses, which was the identical form factor, which improved operating system and application issues, and introduced a built in modem.

GSM acquired 150 of these powerful system.  Each EMBA student was issued a system to use during their stay in the program.  All faculty who taught EMBA were also issued systems to assist them in preparing for the classes so that it would increase utilization. Surprisingly, this cache of system where checked out to students entering the two year EMBA program for six consecutive years (1985 through 1990). Unfortunately, for the class entering in 1991, the number of fully functioning systems fell below what was need for the class and the laptop checkout was discontinued.

When Professor Brad Cornell entered his EMBA finance class in 1991 and said "take out your HP110s, the students said what HP110s?"  This motivated our moving to the students laptop requirement the following year!

(see 1992 EMBA and FEMBA Laptop Initiative)

Personal Anecdote

A favorite personal HP110 story for me was how I spent Winter break 1985.  I can vividly recall spending many hours on our coach at home with my back propped against a window and my 110 literally on my lap.  I had been working on a trying to layout my ideas about the future of computing at the School, and how all of the various components, minicomputers, desktops, and laptops would come together to provide value.  My answer then (and today) was data access:  extensive integration of academic and administrative databases, from home, office, classroom, on the road, anywhere at anytime.  The new (2002) mnemonic WINWINI says it all:  What I Need When I Need IT.  Note that WINWINI replaces the 1985 Macintosh slogan of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), referring to the fact that the Mac introduced the idea that what was on the screen would be printed as it appeared, without the need for inserting the formatting commands into the lines of text.

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November 1, 2002