From the butterfly keyboard to built-in bubble jet printers, a visit to the ThinkPad museum explores 20 years of innovative hits and misses.

The tiny ThinkPad Palm Top PC 110 was the smallest fully featured laptop of 1996, featuring a VGA 256 colour display. Think 486SX at 33MHz.

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The ThinkPad TransNote (2001) delivered a pressure-sensitive notepad attached to the notebook, with whatever was drawn on the notepad being transferred into software. It wasn't particularly effective, with recognition based on sensitivity under the pad at a very basic level — nothing as sensitive as a Wacom. This computer came in both left- and right-handed versions.

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The ThinkPad 701C (1995) featured an award-winning keyboard design and brought full-size keyboard width to a 10-inch laptop thanks to the "butterfly" design. The keyboard split to shift within the boundaries of the screen when closed, while forming an 11.5-inch keyboard when open.

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The design of the ThinkPad 701C was so highly regarded that model kits were made so that people could enjoy building their own souvenir version of the laptop.

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A much more recent power-packed design, the ThinkPad W700 (2008) was built as a true powerhouse desktop replacement. With a 17-inch 1920x1200 screen and packed with Extreme Edition Core 2 processing, it most notably featured a pull-out second LCD and an integrated Wacom stylus tablet. Many owners still have this on their desk as a solid photo-editing machine. Just don't try to carry it around in a typical laptop bag.

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A close-up of the ThinkPad W700 keyboard with the integrated Wacom, biometric scanner and track pad.

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Sadly, this clear case on the ThinkPad T60w never made it to market. But surely we're not the only ones who would love a case that let us look at the internals of our laptop?

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ThinkPad Reserved Edition (2007) was a very limited-edition model that featured a premium leather case. The case was designed to ensure that the laptop could still vent effectively even though it was wrapped in leather. As it was sold "by invitation only", you probably need to know some senior Lenovo executives to meet someone who owned one.

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The ThinkPad iSeries s30 featured another smart case design. By opening the lid, the keyboard tilted upward to give a comfortable typing angle and also add more space for ventilation at the rear.

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One of the crazier ideas for the all-in-one business on the go, the ThinkPad 550BJ (1993) added a built-in bubble jet printer to the laptop. To us, it is both perfectly sensible and senseless at the same time.

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The ThinkPad 700C was the original ThinkPad design, kicking off the black laptop revolution in 1992.

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The ThinkPad is well known for its TrackPoint nub in the middle of the keyboard, but not every ThinkPad featured the pointer. Here's one early design that opted for a trackball at the top right. Thankfully, the TrackPoint became the ThinkPad standard instead of this.

Seamus Byrne attended a Lenovo design labs tour as a guest of Lenovo.

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