ThinkPad's journey and design philosophy - An interaction with Arimasa Naitoh and Kevin Beck of Lenovo

By Nimish Sawant Published Date
26 - Oct - 2010
| Last Updated
26 - Oct - 2010
ThinkPad’s journey and design philosophy - An interaction with Ar...

 On the occasion of selling over 60 million ThinkPad notebooks this month, one of the pioneers of the notebook industry and a man affectionately known as the ‘Father of the ThinkPad’, Arimasa Naitoh, Vice President, Development of Lenovo’s Notebook Business Unit addressed the media today about the ThinkPad as a brand, in Mumbai. He was joined by Kevin Beck, Program Manager, Lenovo Customer Care.

As is widely known, Lenovo has two series catering to two set of users – Think, for corporate users and Idea, for regular users. Naitoh spoke about the journey of the ThinkPad notebook from its inception to its modern day avatar. Speaking on the philosophy of Think series Naitoh touched upon the two main aspects that are given prime importance while designing ThinkPad notebooks – mobility and transparency.

Speaking about the technologies that he envisioned in the near future, Naitoh spoke about flexible displays, larger capacity solid state drives and convergence of the PC and Smartphone architecture. When asked if Lenovo was working on blending Intel and ARM architectures, Naitoh politely declined to comment on future products-related information. “Smartphone and tablet devices will continue to grow, but they will not replace notebooks. Smartphone is quite good for browsing and checking your mails, social network status, etc. But for content creation you will need a notebook or a desktop PC.  Also, Flash memory and SSDs will never replace the present day hard disk drives,” he said.

“Unlike the past, people no longer necessarily work in one location or office now. People are on the move and need to be connected to the network. Mobility makes you powerful in the sense that you have access to create and share content and to communicate. Also you should be professional at your job and not be bothered too much by the working of your notebook. ThinkPad notebooks are made in such a way that users do not have to waste much time in getting the system to work,” said Naitoh.

Naitoh gave some examples demonstrating innovations in the evolution of the ThinkPad notebooks by touching upon power management, improving range of antennas within, etc. “As we go forward, we will see faster processors and faster graphics. But there is no point in loading your system with them, unless you have thought about managing heat, keeping the temperatures lower and the system less noisy and light in weight,” he said.



Kevin Beck took over from Naitoh and gave an insight into the design philosophy of Think series of notebooks. His talk was sprinkled with a lot of interesting inspirations that are implemented in ThinkPad notebooks. Here’s are some of them : 


·         The Japanese lunch box, popularly known as Bento Box, was the inspiration behind the present day ThinkPad.

·         The shock-absorbing feet found on the ThinkPad notebooks have been inspired by cat’s feet. Reason being cat’s feet provide a two-way shock absorption.

·         An owl’s feather structure inspired the tips of the blade of the internal fan of ThinkPad notebooks which results in quieter and cooler notebooks.  

“We do not believe in just grabbing new technology and forcing them into our products. Durability, reliability and user experience matters more to us. For instance hard disks inside our notebooks have a rubber coating surrounded by a metal place with rubber railings on the sides. Keyboards on the notebooks are spill proof, thanks to two holes on the underside of the notebook which drains out all the liquid. This layering of protection makes our product line sturdy,” said Beck.

Beck concluded with ThinkPad’s achievement in the sales department – over 60 million ThinkPad notebooks sold so far, up from 10 million notebooks sold in 2000. Also according to Technology Business Research - an agency specializing in providing in-depth insights within the computer, software, telecom among other industries – Lenovo’s ThinkPad notebooks have been at the top for seven out of eleven quarters.

Here’s a look at the Road to 60 million.




Nimish SawantNimish Sawant