Last night I attended a talk at the Computer History Museum about the early history of portable computing highlighting GRiD Computing as one of the pioneers in the space.
Some interesting facts:
- GRiD was one of Silicon Valley’s first stealth companies (back in 1981). Most employees did not know what they were working on until after they were hired.
- Co-founder Dave Paulsen told a story about sourcing parts from all over the world to try and find already manufactured components that could work in a small form-factor PC. They found their electro-luminescent displays while flipping through a Japanese electronics catalog and seeing a panel advertised by Sharp as a light bulb replacement that could fill your whole room with soft light.
- GRiD laptops were used in space for over a decade. After the Challenger explosion in 1986 the GRiD computers were recovered and still worked!
- Presidents carried GRiD computers with them in case of nuclear emergencies. It was one of the tools inside “the football.” The laptop allowed cabinet officials to leave Washington without fear of being out of touch with their nuclear arsenal.
At the end of the talk I had the chance to speak with Jeff Hawkins and check out his GRiD from back in the day. A definite uniquely Silicon Valley type of night.
Check out my full photoset from the talk, including some of the early marketing materials of GRiD.