Rare 1995 IBM Thinkpad butterfly laptop meticulously restored

Originally published at: Rare 1995 IBM Thinkpad butterfly laptop meticulously restored | Boing Boing


I had two of these machines, and loved them. The first one I bought from a vendor at one of those weekend “computer shows” at the Monroeville Expomart. A couple of years later the screen got damaged, and when I called in to IBM for service, the police showed up and informed me that it was technically stolen property as it had been purchased from the original vendor using a stolen credit card. This explained the sketchy vibes I got from the vendor, and why I had never been able to reach them after my purchase. I contacted the original vendor to see if I could legally purchase the computer from him, given that it was damaged, use worn in general, and probably worth more to me than to anybody else given that it had all my data on it. The original vendor declined my generous offer, so I bought a refurbished 701CS direct from IBM. The refurb had upgraded specs, and cost less than the amount I had offered the vendor. I never went to one of those computer shows again.


I feel like spending who knows how long to strip all the black paint off of the black plastic shell parts, then repainting them black, is a dubious choice. If I was going to go to that kind of trouble I would paint it a color.

I think the last time I did that, I was in my twenties, and gave my Amiga 2000 a zebra paint job, with one stripe transition crossing the disc eject button solely because it was more work to do it that way. Now I just have a single sticker on the back of my Mac laptop. Twentysomething me may be very disappointed in me.


My wife and I met while working on these! We were fixing defects (wrong/missing components, bad ICs etc.) on the populated motherboards of these (and other) Thinkpads. We had internal nicknames for the different models; can’t remember which one was which but, given the timeline, this one was in production the year that we became permanent hires (& then I left to go work in IT the following year).

When I left IBM, I think they had just incorporated then-new Pentium processors into the laptops, and for some reason the capability wasn’t even fully utilized - the explanation didn’t make sense and at this far remove I don’t remember much else.

My wife stayed on and then another company took over the manufacturing operation in Austin – then that company moved a couple miles north, where Texas Instruments used to build stuff (and then they finally closed that, too). The former IBM site is now a rather tony shopping center.


Man, I miss the days before IBM pivoted to professional services and unsuccessful trend-chasing. They haven’t entirely given up on making cool stuff, if only because the mainframe customers are deep pocketed and conservative; but so much has been lost.


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