Patents

Laptop innovation flop: Detachable displays

Removable stand alone display for laptop computer

Not every invention becomes a successful product. Some failures are just a matter of timing, while others just weren't fully hatched to begin with.

Laptop innovations, like the trackpad and built-in webcam, have been wildly successful. Nearly every modern laptop has both.

But, not every portable and laptop computer "improvement" has caught on with consumers. The US patent drawings in this gallery showcase a definite miss--removable displays. Check out these early detachable display designs from tech heavyweights like IBM, Toshiba, Unisys, and others.

U.S. Patent number: 5,196,993
Filed: Apr. 15,1991
Issued: Mar. 23, 1993
Inventors: Matthew A. Herron and Dennis J. Boyle
Assignee: Unisys Corp.

In 1991, a pair of inventors from Unisys designed a laptop with screen that could be removed from the base computer and used as a "free-standing" display.

The patent describes the device as "a portable computer having a base housing and a removable display pivotably mounted thereon, the display being removable from the base housing to be made free-standing on pivotable support feet, while having a removable electrical cable to the base housing."

Image taken from U.S. Patent 5,196,993 - Digitized by Google

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

20 comments
keith_eves
keith_eves

Back in the 1990s we had a laptop which had a detachable screen. The rear of the screen also came off so that you could place the screen on an overhead projector (before the days of vga projectors) to project the display on to a screen. I can't remember the make of it bt it wasn't a popular make. I always wondered why such features weren't more popular.

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

Removable display or attachable keyboard ........... Flopped idea or tablet ....

bushitgo
bushitgo

Asus Eeepad is a touchscreen LCD which is connectable to a keyboard. However this is not computer but only function like iPad. It is an iPad with a detachable keyboard. Someone will be making laptop with removable/detachable LCD soon. I think this laptop computer is where you can remove the LCD and use it as iPad.

gonzobrains
gonzobrains

I don't understand why this feature wasn't popular. I have actually been seeking a laptop like this for ergonomic reasons. Neck pain would suddenly disappear if you could relocate the display to a place that was eye-level! gb

shivander
shivander

What I think, they should have components available where a person can be able to put together his or her laptop without all the added prices. It seems like the laptop market is closed for some people.

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

Haha!! A glimpse into corporate RnD before mandatory drug testing I guess. :p Those designers must have smoked some good stuff for those midnight cheeto/ design sessions. :p ;\

efuudd
efuudd

Love my HP TC1100. If they updated it, I would have it rather than and "PAD".

iowanews1
iowanews1

I'm wondering if this patent won't have value as some companies are coming out with laptop-tablet hybrids. Thus the "detachable display" part.

jepoyagosajes
jepoyagosajes

kinda off the beat on the techie world...but nice try anyway...for the author of this idea, just keep those brain cells moving someday you'll have your break innovation. http://bitsnipe.com/

rlthomas1
rlthomas1

Removable displays don't seem to add much user value. But industry standard interchangeable displays that would allow a laptop user to replace his laptop without necessarillly buying a new display (and trashing the fully functional old one) would be intriguing.

Cerebral*Origami
Cerebral*Origami

This is something I have proposed before. Now with the wireless technology we have a detachable screen could be used as a tablet computer with the base handling all the heavy number crunching and the screen (in tablet mode) simply sending pen/finger/virtual keyboard data back to the base unit (Or even through a WAN) and receiving screen update info in return. Varios battery configurations could be used depending on weight/resolution/run-time requirements.

Nijjo
Nijjo

Would have been quite interesting if it were put into practice.

thomas vesely
thomas vesely

one laptop,6 screens as bluetooth enabled wall displays,sequential presentation?

Walthy
Walthy

I could see a very useful "removeable" pad display. I suspect it will make some patent attorneys a ton of money pursuing this patent in the current pad/tablet market.

SteveTheBee
SteveTheBee

One of the research teams in the Computer Science department I worked in had one. It was designed so that you could remove the screen and then the back of the screen so you were left with an LCD display that could be placed onto an overhead projector. I believe it was effective - until the suitcase it was in got into the hands of a baggage handler at an airport - lots of pretty colours after that but not very useful!

Walthy
Walthy

I recently read that the Apple rumor mill says that Apple is coming out with a new tablet/pad/laptop similar to HP's Touchsmart. The big difference would be that it would not just be a touchscreen display, but could also be used like a pad or laptop. I'm no Apple fan, but why not do it this way. Why didn't HP think that way when developing the TouchSmart? Not having it just be a stand up display. I'm sure it is also thinner and lighter than the Touchsmart. I think it makes sense. I don't necessarily want a 50" HD screen in my lap, but I wouldn't mind a 22" or 24" screen. I can see many uses for this on a desk, on a lap, for people with handicaps that need more real estate on a touch screen and that can sit on their lap and not have to reach out to a vertical screen. I can see my stepson who has cerebral palsey being able to interact with the screen in so many ways. People who have no muscle control to write legibly can often make repeatable moves that could be easily interpreted with a gesture recognition type of model. Replace written language with gestures. I think this would work great. Come on HP, lets see a 24" ruggedized Touchsmart that can be oriented in any direction, even on a lap. HP is on my list for not being the innovator it once was. I hope it gets with the program and takes a few more risks with new ideas. Remember the HP35 with RPN. It revolutionized the calculator and our concept of using one. I know, you weren't born yet, but some of us remember!

JCitizen
JCitizen

IBM Convertible. I really liked it, and I still have it. Switching back and forth from the LCD, which was barely readable to the mono chrome monitor was a good compromise. I left the CRT monitor in my main office and carried the "laptop" every where in the field. I always had a search light with me to read the LCD display while on the road.

doug1940
doug1940

Yes. A Company I worked for bought a number of Toshiba T1600 (from memory) which had removable screens so that they could be "docked" with a CRT.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

They're on my list for ridiculous over pricing. Go to their website, and you'll pay infinitely more for anything than you would from a retailer - even a high priced retailer like Best Buy. It puzzles me, it really does, why they do this. They don't even have the added expense of being the middle man, like a retailer does, and yet they charge more. They're not the only ones that do it, but for what I've looked at, they're the most extreme. But as for the rumored Apple tablet you mention, if Apple really does come out with a full-sized and full-featured tablet (in other words, NOT just an oversized iPad), I might actually be tempted to finally break down and buy an Apple product. The HP Touchsmart never even got a second glance from me. I thought, and still think, that it's a stupid idea. If they fix it and make it more versatile, I might at least give it another glance. Knowing Apple, though, they'll probably get it right first.