Laptops have evolved dramatically over the last 30 years, and Laptop Mag has been there to document every step of the way!
The rate of progress in this category has been astounding, from running MS-DOS with specs like a 10MHz CPU, 640KB of memory, a 40MB hard disc drive, and a 640 x 400 pixel display to 4K panels, 5GHz CPUs, so many gigabytes of RAM, and a gigantic NVMe SSD.
What about the next 30 years, though?
What does the laptop look like in the year 2051? It’s an intriguing subject, and to commemorate our 30th anniversary, we enlisted the help of a few specialists to provide us with a glimpse into the future of computers.
However, things did not turn out as planned. Tablets are still wonderful for content consumption, but for most people, a laptop is the device of choice for getting work done on the road.
In fact, a Pew study from 2015 revealed that 36% of Americans own both of these devices as well as a smartphone.
That number has almost certainly climbed since then, and based on my own personal ecosystem experience,
I use my iPad for binge viewing and playing Apple Arcade games, while my M1 MacBook Pro is where I do my work. People are accustomed to the separation of devices.
Despite this, experts continue to speculate about the demise of the traditional laptop and the concept of integrating all of these screens into a single device.
“I believe the laptop will eventually collapse down to a form factor that will probably appear quite similar to the smartphone of today,” said Steve Koenig, VP of research at the Consumer Technology Association.
Cédric Honnet, an MIT research associate, adds, “Laptops will most likely not survive the next 30 years as they are now.”
“A laptop is primarily made up of processing, power, storage, inputs, and outputs, but its distinguishing feature is portability, and we can expect all of these components to be greatly downsized.”
Yes, you read that right: electrically stimulating your brain cells to produce pixels of light that you can see without the need for shooting lasers into your eyes like most smart glasses.
It’s fascinating stuff and, according to Honnet, it’s “just a matter of time before we get ‘BCI displays’ with full HD.”
Here’s my problem with all this, though. Is this not just the definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results?
We’ve been trained to expect some kind of “holy shit” new gadget that renders other categories obsolete, whether it’s laptop/phone hybrid device or a metaverse-esque mixed reality driven by BCI.
But the traditional laptop has stood the test of time and weathered these battles, purely because there’s not much out there quite like it.
I believe they are both right, but they are talking about two steps in the evolution of this category that we will see over the next 30 to 50 years.