Practical Technology

for practical people.

What was the first netbook?


wasn’t aware that there was a question about what the first netbook was, but Anthony, a blogger at the Coffee Desk, asserts that 1996’s Toshiba Libretto 70CT was the first netbook. Ah… no.

His post was then picked up by Slashdot, and, to my surprise, most of the people there also don’t seem to know what the first netbook was. Odd.

So, let me start from the top. What is a netbook anyway? First, legally speaking, Intel is fighting with Psion, the UK hand-held OEM, over who owns the trademark. I’m not interested in that aspect of the conversation and I don’t think anyone outside of marketing and legal circles is either.

OK, so technically speaking what’ a netbook, or to use the long-winded phrase we used to use for them: an UMPC (ultra-mobile PC). According to Anthony, it wasn’t the size-factor alone, the Toshiba made the grade because it was the first to use infrared and PCMCIA-based phone card connections and it also included a Web browser, Internet Explorer 2.0.

Sorry, that doesn’t make it.

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