The keyboard was magic. You didn’t realize quite how good it was until you fumbled around with anything else. I can touch type in the dark almost unconsciously on one of those IBM keyboards. Then again I didn’t have to because they had that cool little light built in the top which would light up your keyboard for just enough light to see in a dark airplane cabin or children’s bedroom. IBM laptops were always under the specifications of other laptops in their price range. They looked boring. You didn’t ask for one so much as find it on your desk as the company IT guy seemed to love them for some boring IT reason…
Yet somehow they performed better. And they always lasted longer. You wished they would fall apart so you could get something with a new CPU that looked better but they plod on. In fact they hardly ever die! That hidden partition for system recovery they have makes sure you can always bounce back and get a brand new system in an hour or so.
Maybe some other manufacturer has similar quality and attention to detail nowadays. I haven’t bumped into it. Macs are cool but not a work-horse like those IBM laptops, so much as a style or fun pony. HP top end models are impressive in specs sometimes but the component quality varies enormously from model to model. IBM laptops consistently included features which came out of serious research. Sure, they often got their marketing wrong and some models were just plain silly. But I very much doubt anyone, ever regretted the money they spent on any laptop IBM made.
This is not to say that quality is dead or to lament ages bygone as tech dinosaurs often do. But for people like me that will always have at least one dual disk, RAID, SSD, as-many-core-processors-as-possible, massive graphic card and all the bells and whistles type laptop, it seems like there is a bit of a gap in the market. Laptops are commodities which is great since they cost less but not so great when they don’t help us produce more.
So I watch my kids play on old IBM laptops and sing their praise retrospectively. Machines ten and fifteen years old running amazingly well. (I think we have to give some credit to Microsoft for the fact that Windows XP is still so widely supported.) I love technology and enjoy trying out the latest and greatest. I just miss those seriously scientific IBM engineers that gave us these gems and hope to find more of their spirit somewhere down the line.