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Laptop pioneer John Ellenby dies

The Grid Compass, introduced in 1982, was the first portable computer with the now-familiar clamshell design.

The Grid Compass originally sold for $8,150.
Matt Flynn

I've been reviewing laptops for more than a decade, but the very first device that we'd consider a true laptop dates back much further. There were a small handful of technically portable computers before it, often called "luggables," but the first PC we'd recognize as having a readable display, a built-in keyboard and a clamshell-style hinge was the Grid Compass, introduced in 1982.

One of the key figures behind that groundbreaking laptop has died, reports The New York Times.

John Ellenby, 75, died on August 17 in San Francisco, said the Times. Ellenby was a British born computer engineer and the founder of Grid Systems, the company that created the Compass. That was later sold to the Tandy Corporation, itself an early computer pioneer.

The Grid Compass, co-created by influential industrial designer William Moggridge, featured an Intel 8086 processor, a 320x240-resolution display and ran its own Grid-OS operating system. It originally sold for $8,150.