‘Butterfly’ keyboard design of the iconic IBM ThinkPad 701C is inspired by a toy

Team Udayavani, Jun 14, 2021, 11:41 AM IST

Source: Lenovo

In order to create a new category of business laptops that’s easier to carry and use, the ThinkPad 700 series concept was introduced by International Business Machines Corporation (Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC business and the iconic ThinkPad brand in 2005).

Fitting a full-sized keyboard alongside a 10.4-inch LCD colour display into the next ThinkPad 701C portable laptop was a challenge and to overcome this hurdle, Dr John Karidis, an IBM distinguished engineer went on to develop the “Butterfly” keyboard.

The idea of butterfly keyboard struck when Karidis saw his three-year-old daughter who was building shapes out of her toy blocks.

Karidis thought of cutting the board across the number 4, T, H and M keys. That way the board was broken into two distinctive movable parts and that was how the “Butterfly” keyboard came about.

The design of the 700 series started in 1993 and the product came out in early 1995.

IBM ThinkPad 701C, IBM ThinkPad 701C butterfly keyboard, IBM ThinkPad 701C history, John Karidis IBM, Lenovo, Lenovo ThinkPad, Dilip Bhatia Lenovo

Karidis fit the full-sized keyboard into a 9.7-inch laptop chassis by dividing the keyboard into two interlocking pieces that folded in and out as you opened and closed the laptop’s lid. When the lid is closed, both pieces lie flat in the case.
The Butterfly keyboard went on to become a game-changing concept to tackle the problem of stuffing a full-sized keyboard into a portable laptop.
ThinkPad 701C holds a spot in MoMA’s permanent collection in New York City and the laptop is in hot demand among the collector community.

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