Laptop inventor Bill Moggridge dies aged 69
Moggridge's Grid Compass computer still provides the blueprint for many modern devices
Bill Moggridge, the British-born industrial designer credited with the creation of the first laptop computer in 1982, has died of cancer aged 69.
Until his death, Moggridge was best known for his design of the Grid Compass, the first portable computer with a display that closed over the keyboard. It had a magnesium alloy case and a 6-inch yellow-on-black screen display.
The Compass featured an Intel 8086 processor, a 340-kilobyte magnetic bubble memory, and a 1,200 bit/s modem. It ran its own operating system, known as GriD-OS.
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Due to its high retail price of $8,150, the Compass was used mainly by the US military. In 1985, the computer made its way into space, aboard the NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery.
Grid Systems Corp won the patent for the “clamshell” computer design in 1986. Although modern laptops are significantly cheaper, lighter and more powerful than the Compass, contemporary models continue to rely on Moggridge’s basic model.
Moggridge co-founded design consultancy firm IDEO in 1991, and also served as a consulting associate professor in the field of design at Stanford University from 1983 to 2010.
In recent years, he helped create and promote a field of study called “interaction design” – the study of how humans interact with computers. His book “Designing Interactions”, was published in 2006 and included interviews with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Moggridge was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 at the National Design Awards, in a ceremony at the White House, presided over by First Lady Michelle Obama.
In 2010, Moggridge left IDEO to become director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.
“Beloved by the museum staff and the design community at large, Bill touched the lives of so many through his wise council, boundary-pushing ideas and cheerful camaraderie,” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, in a statement.
Cooper-Hewitt has created the following video as a tribute: