One of the recent ATP podcast member-special episodes was about laptops and it drove me down the memory lane of my own history with laptops. I currently own an M1 MacBook Air in my home office but my main computer is the most versatile one ever - 13” iPad Pro. My journey with laptops started back in 2000 when I earned some money as a PHP developer and bought myself a first laptop:
- 1. Compaq Armada 7400 in summer of 2000!
- 2. Actina laptop in 2002
- 3. Fujitsu P1120 in 2003
- 4. Toshiba Portégé M200 TabletPC - in 2004
- My mobile office in 2005 - Fujitsu + Toshiba
- For my wife: Fujitsu P1510 in 2005 and P1610 in 2006
- 5. IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad X60T in 2007
- 6. First Mac - MacBook Air with SSD in 2008
- 7. MacBook Air 3gen in 2009
- 8. MacBook Air redesigned for 2010 model
- 9. MacBook Pro 13” in 2013
- 10. MacBook Air M1 in 2022
- 10 laptops over the last 23 years!
1. Compaq Armada 7400 in summer of 2000!
In the summer of 2000 I went on a trip with my friends to the UK and over there I bought a second-hand Compaq Armada 7400. I remember I met with the seller somewhere in Notting Hill in London and I paid for it somewhere around 500 GBP, which was lots of money for me, but still much cheaper for a laptop I’d get in Poland at that time.
As I was about to study abroad in Germany, I needed a laptop to make my computing life more portable and this one was perfect - it wasn’t too big (13” - just like my iPad Pro now!) and it had big parameters for that time: 96MB of RAM and 4GB of Hard Disk Drive. Something that currently is laughable. And it didn’t have a built-in WiFi or LAN car - I had to buy a PCMCIA extension card for that!
I used this laptop for more than 2 years - first year as I was studying in Stralsund, Germany and the second one in Valencia, Spain. I don’t have any photo of me using it, but I do have this photo of when I put it up on sale and still got around $400 bucks for it after 2 years of service.
When I came back home to Poland I needed a better laptop, which meant both faster and more portable, but the choice I made wasn’t the best one:
2. Actina laptop in 2002
Actina is a Polish company that re-brands Chinese products and imports them and I really liked their very portable laptop at that time:
In the end this laptop didn’t serve me so well. I was obsessed with portability at that point, so when my friend was coming from the USA so we made a deal - he brought me this ultra-tiny Fujitsu and I gave him my Actina:
3. Fujitsu P1120 in 2003
This ultra-portable Fujitsu laptop had a touch screen! It was awesome and really cool. And had a very long battery life for the standards of 20 years ago.
But it had a very crappy Transmeta Crusoe processor designed by Linus Torvalds which was very slow. As I was using it I was convinced that I needed a an ultra-portable touch-screen laptop, so I turned to this new trend of TabletPCs.
4. Toshiba Portégé M200 TabletPC - in 2004
Back in 2004 the Tablet PCs started picking up and one of the best ones was Toshiba Portégé M200 which many people praised on a forum called TabletPCBuzz. I even remember my guru Michael Hyatt even had one. So when one of the forum’s key contributors, Rob Bushway was selling his Toshiba, I got it from him!
I was very happy with this laptop. It was a fully-blown TabletPC with a very high-resolution screen of 1400×1050 (SXGA+) and Wacom Pen support and I could even expand RAM and Hard Drive space. It was running the latest version of Windows XP TabletPC edition. I really loved how portable and cool that laptop was.
My mobile office in 2005 - Fujitsu + Toshiba
In 2005 I got married and together with my wife we moved to Brussels, Belgium where she was doing an Internship at the European Union 🇪🇺 institutions. We got rid of my wife’s PC and she took over my cute Fujitsu and I rocked the Toshiba M200.
Here’s our apartment and my “home office” with additional accessories like a special docking station for the M200, external DVD drive and printer. This is where I built the first version of Nozbe just for myself in PHP and MySQL. Little did I know that it’ll become my main business in just few years.
My wife really appreciated the form factor and the touch screen of this small and cute Fujitsu laptop machine.
For my wife: Fujitsu P1510 in 2005 and P1610 in 2006
The cute Fujitsu was too underpowered for my wife so next year I got her a newer model called Fujitsu P1510d. Few months later I sold it to a friend and then got the newer and faster Fujitsu P1610 which we kept for a few years:
The cool thing about the Fujitsu laptops was that you could get a better and larger battery for them, to effectively double their battery life without sacrificing much of their portability:
Additionally speaking of laptops, my two mobile phones before the iPhone looked like laptops. These were Nokias - the Communicator series - firstly I got the bigger Nokia 9500 and later the smaller Nokia 9300i.
My Toshiba M200 was so good that my brother also wanted one so when I was in New York in 2006 I got him one of these, too. And I couldn’t help myself and not take a picture with it alongside the Picasso’s goat in MoMa.
5. IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad X60T in 2007
In 2007 I launched Nozbe while still on my Toshiba M200, but the new ThinkPad X60 Tablet was already emerging as the best new TabletPC to buy. So in September when I was a speaker at the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco I managed to buy it second hand from another TabletPCBuzz forum member. I got it together with lots of goodies like a docking station and additional batteries.
This was my best PC to date and my last PC laptop. The writing was on the wall that I wanted to have an Apple computer in the end. I even made a hackintosh version of this laptop at some point.
I even put an Apple sticker on this PC ThinkPad as you can see from this photo of me and my buddy presenting Nozbe at a local Barcamp event in Berlin, Germany. On this laptop I made the transition from Nozbe being my side gig to a full time job.
6. First Mac - MacBook Air with SSD in 2008
When MacBook Air launched in 2008 it was like a dream come true. I was craving for it. I loved the form factor and didn’t care about the lack of ports or anything like this. For the entire 2008 as I was working on Nozbe full time I was trying to earn enough money to be able to finally buy it. In November of 2008 I got it second-hand from someone - it was beautiful but underpowered and had lots of issues and a very small SSD but it was glorious.
On the photo above I’m in David Allen’s office in Ojai, California, presenting the early beta of Nozbe 2.0 to them. We were discussing a potential partnership which in the end never materialized. But we’re friends to this day.
7. MacBook Air 3gen in 2009
After less than a year I upgraded my MacBook Air and even recorded an unboxing video of it. They’ve revised it twice since the debut in January 2008 so I decided to take the plunge and get it. It was also my first new laptop purchase. Until then I was always buying laptops second-hand.
In early 2010 apple announced the iPad and I got my first iPad. Well, I still have this original iPad to this day in my home office. Here’s how it looked like together with the MacBook Air:
Little did I know then that in just 2 more years the iPad will become my main computer and start my #iPadOnly lifestyle.
The MacBook Air was my main computer in 2009 home office and you can see it alongside my good old PCs: ThinkPad X60T and Toshiba M200.
8. MacBook Air redesigned for 2010 model
The revised MacBook Air form factor seduced me when it was announced and I got it in November of 2010 when I traveled to Chicago to meet 37signals and Jason Fried. I remember doing the migration in the hotel room and the next day using it already on 37signals’ How We Work event for a whole day and the battery lasted no problem! It was a MacBook Air done right.
I even did a few headshots for my blog and social media, featuring proudly the MacBook Air. I identified myself with this computer!
…this is when I started working standing.
9. MacBook Pro 13” in 2013
I bought a Mac Mini for my 2012 office and later sold MacBook Air so it wasn’t there in my 2013 office at all… until I got back to the laptop form factor with the retina MacBook Pro (16GB RAM and 512GB SSD) which was supposed to be the last Mac I’d ever need.
It was my main Home Office machine that supported and augmented my #iPadOnly lifestyle. Well, it lasted less than 2 years when I ditched it for the iMac 5K in 2015 and gave the MacBook Pro to my wife which she happily used in her home office with two external monitors connected to it:
We still have this MacBook Pro in our household and now our daughters use it! This machine is more than 10 years old and is still rocking! BTW, it has 16GB of RAM - the base models of this year’s (2023) MacBook Pro’s M3 have only 8GB of RAM. Just sayin’
10. MacBook Air M1 in 2022
The iMac lasted more around 7 years in my home office (until 2022!). The longest a computer ever lasted on me! It was only last year that I upgraded to the first (and only) M-series computer so far - the M1 MacBook Air (16GB RAM, 1TB SSD).
My Mac journey started with a MacBook Air, through a MacBook Pro, iMac and I’m back with a MacBook Air again! And despite being two generations back (M1 chip), it’s plenty fast for me and it gets the job done as my home office computer which supports my 2023 #iPadOnly lifestyle.
10 laptops over the last 23 years!
It was fun compiling this list and remembering all these moments that were so meaningful for me. The first laptop ever that let me move abroad to study, the first TabletPC that helped me start Nozbe, the first Mac that changed the way I looked at design and all the ones that followed. Eventually my constant quest for portability that let me to the #iPadOnly lifestyle with the most versatile “laptop” ever: 13” iPad Pro.