Keyboard Builders' Digest
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Keyboard Builders' Digest / Keyboard Spotting

Grid Compass II

A Grid Compass from the Space Shuttle – spotted by herronious.

KBD.news
Published December 18, 2021

The Grid Compass (written GRiD by its manufacturer GRiD Systems Corporation) was one of the first laptop computers (source).

This one in the picture was spotted at the Kennedy Space Center in FL by fellow redditor herronious.

A sticker below the display says:

SHUTTLE PORTABLE ONBOARD COMPUTER
MALFUNCTION
SPOC pwr -off (5 SEC), then on

Some interesting details in "Pioneering the Laptop: Engineering the GRiD compass":

Jeff Hawkins, who worked at Grid for ten years and joined the company right before the first laptop was launched, talks about the positioning of the Grid laptops and the lesson he learned – When you are positioning a product, what you first say about it sticks for a long period of time:

One of the remarkable things about the first laptop, the GRiD Compass, was its price. It was $8,150. Which is a very odd price. First, it's very expensive. We're talking about 1982 dollars, it might be like $25,000 today or something like that. I don't know why they came up with that price [...] but it stuck. And from now on people remember Grid is the company that made expensive laptops. It didn't matter if we sold the cheapest laptop, the less expensive later on everyone was: "Oh yeah, they make the expensive laptops." The flipside of that was that the very first products were made of magnesium cases – which was very cool and sexy, and we said they were rugged. I don't really know if they were rugged at all. In fact, there's some evidence that they weren't that rugged. But clearly, later on we made plastic products or no more rugged than anybody else's products but everyone says "Oh, you guys make those rugged computers" and you say "Yeah, that's right: the _expensive_ rugged computers". And when you add those two together you won't be surprised one of our best customers was the US government: they like to spend money and they like rugged. So we sold a lot to the Department of Defense and other spooky agencies like the NSA and so on.

And the second anecdote is probably even more interesting because it involves the keyboard, but check the video for that.

Published on Sat 18th Dec 2021. Featured in KBD #57 (source).


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