Early laptop designer Moggridge dies at 69

Sep 09, 2012

(AP)—Bill Moggridge, a British industrial designer who came up with an early portable computer with the flip-open shape that is common today, has died. He was 69.

The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum said Moggridge, its director since 2010, died on Saturday from cancer.

Moggridge is credited with the design of the Grid Compass, a computer that had a keyboard and yellow-on-black display that sold for $8,150 when it was released in 1982. It was encased in magnesium and seen as rugged, and was used by the U.S. military. The computer made its way into outer space aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1985.

Although there were many portable computers being developed around that time, Grid Systems Corp. won the patent for the clamshell design with the foldable screen hinged toward the back of the machine, said Alex Bochannek, a curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Moggridge pushed for this foldable design when it was realized the flat-panel screen, keyboard and circuitry could all fit snugly together.

"In terms of the industrial design of the enclosure, Moggridge was instrumental in proposing that," Bochannek said. "He came up with that particular form factor."

Until that point, portable computers resembled portable sewing machines that weighed more than 20 pounds (nine kilograms) and had a big handle, he said.

It was after using the machine that Moggridge's ideas about design began to change, Bochannek said. His work began to focus more on how people interacted with devices, rather than just making sure they were enclosed well.

Moggridge authored the books "Designing Interactions," which was published in 2006, and "Designing Media," published in 2010.

"Beloved by the museum staff and the design community at large, Bill touched the lives of so many through his wise council, boundary-pushing ideas and cheerful camaraderie," said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in a statement.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Karin, and two sons Alex and Erik.

Explore further: Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Space image: Conjoined

Mar 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The docked space shuttle Discovery and the Canadian-built Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator, are featured in this photograph taken by the STS-133 crew aboard the ...

Recommended for you

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

Apr 19, 2014

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

Apr 18, 2014

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

Apr 16, 2014

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

defactoseven
5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2012
But did he own the patent? That's all that matters. If he didn't Apple will sue!

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...