The First IBM ThinkPad Was a Paper Notebook

June 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm 11 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

IBM’s first notebook computer went on sale in 1992. The name ThinkPad was borrowed from a notebook they already made — a paper notebook.

In the 1920s, IBM’s corporate slogan was “THINK!”

For inspiration, employees and customers were given paper notebooks with the word “THINK” embossed in the cover.

While on a coffee break, IBM researcher Denny Wainwright was inspired by the notepad and came up with the name for their notebook computer line, “ThinkPad.” In fact, the idea for the notebook computer was first conceptualized on the paper inside one of the brown leatherette notepads.

In 2005, IBM sold the ThinkPad brand for approximately $1.75 billion. While they’re not known for style, both IBM and Lenovo manufactured ThinkPads are renown for high quality and reliability.

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Photo: Chris Metcalf

Sources: Lenovo, ACL, Wikipedia (ThinkPad, Lenovo)

Entry filed under: History and Origins. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. davidmac3193  |  June 24, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I have a Lenovo laptop, it works well. I travel frequently and it gets some rough handling, but no problems in 2 years.

  • 2. David Cain  |  June 25, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! I’d love to get my hands on a vintage Think pad. Maybe I’m a simpleton but I really do think that just seeing the word think would help me think.

  • 3. Neil  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    @David Cain

    Hey David… think!

  • 4. Jafafa Hots  |  July 13, 2011 at 2:59 am

    I had a couple of these that were my dad’s. Back when you could actually make money on eBay, I put one up calling it the first IBM thinkpad, in the collectibles section AND in the pc section.

    Had most of the original pad of paper. Went for about $100.

    I always tried to “educate” people with the history of my items I sold. It was appreciated and I got email from people saying they watched all my auctions just for the information.

    This was all pre-blogs.

    I just thought it was cool that so many people didn’t know, whereas when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s and my dad referred to his “Think Pad,” I always knew he meant his pocket notepad.

  • 5. Joe  |  October 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Wish I could find one of these. I am searching ebay now. Does anyone know where to find one? I think it’s a great conversationalist piece, and certainly useful. Call me old fashion…

    • 6. Chad Upton  |  October 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      Hey Joe. I did buy one of these on ebay. I thought it was pretty cool so I wanted to have one. It looks like there are some on there now, try searching for “ibm think notepad”

  • 7. Richard  |  November 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I worked as a salesman for IBM in the early 70’s and we handed these out like candy. Everyone loved them. We literally had cartons of them! Wish I could find some now. They worked better than any electronic gaget that has come down the pike, even the new iPhone 4S! Richard

  • 8. Katie  |  August 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I actually have one of these that my Grandfather gave me, but mine is in black, with gold lettering, and half empty. Does any one have any ideas where I could get a paper refill?

  • 9. Peter Weisberg  |  May 18, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I also have a black leather pocket Thinkpad and would love to find some paper refills.

  • 10. David Pacheco  |  September 22, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    I have one that belonged to my grandparents. I would be willing to sell. The cover is tan and in great shape. The paper is about half used. Make me an offer I cannot refuse.

  • 11. Nancy Girard  |  August 12, 2021 at 11:50 am

    my grandmother was the lead sample maker at the factory that supplied IBM with the leather ….i have several…..i have one that has Gemini 7/6 and December 4-18 1965 on the opposite side of Think….


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