I’ve been a Mac user for almost all of my computer-owning adult life and there have only been a couple of devices that have ever given me PC-envy. The first one was the IBM ThinkPad 701, my friend at college Jouni whom I lived in halls with at the time had a 701 and the product design blew me away.
Surprisingly for a computer manufacturer, IBM turned out laptops that had interesting industrial design. They used magnesium alloy shells, titanium and carbon fibre in different model designs over the years and got less credit than they deserved for it.
Richard Sapper, a German product designer based in Italy came up with the design language for the ThinkPad which he modeled on the traditional black lacquer bento box. An ex-automotive engineer with Mercedes Benz Sapper was better known for his work with Alessi and the Tizio lamp for Artemide. Sapper has kept a connection with the ThinkPad brand and is involved as a design consultant for the current ThinkPad range made by Lenovo.
What made the 701 special was the butterfly keyboard designed by John Karidis solved the problem of making a portable computer with a full-size keyboard. It was delicate the way it folded into place as one opened the lid on the laptop and robust enough to cope with travails of mobile working.