The clamshell design laptop was first introduced in 1982, and let's face it, it's almost impossible to improve upon. Not that this has stopped some trying. We trawled Google patents to bring you the 22 weirdest laptop designs.

The vast majority of portable computers use the clamshell design that was introduced by Grid Systems in 1982 - because it works well.

However, that hasn't stopped some poor souls believing they can improve upon it, with, among others, folding screens, folding keyboards and even tri-fold clamshells. We trawled Google Patents to bring you the 22 weirdest laptop designs.

Portable computer

Patent filed: October 18th, 1982

Here's the groundbreaking granddaddy of all clamshell-style laptops- Grid's Compass 1101, which also sported other, less lasting innovations such as a plasma display and bubble memory.

The hinge was in the middle rather than the edge, but machines such as the TRS-80 Model 200 soon changed that. I wish my MacBook Pro had a fold-out foot like the one seen here.

Three-layered laptop computer

Patent filed: October 27th, 1987

Okay, I understand that not every portable computer can be a wafer-thin MacBook Air. But this one seemingly combines an Apple II-like computer with a super-chunky display with an Epson FX80-style dot matrix printer-it looks like it would have made for a machine that was around eight inches thick.

I make no guesses about how much the whole contraption would have weighed, but I bet the shoulder strap depicted in this illustration was there out of necessity.

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NEXT PAGE: Notebook mountable computer system

  1. They've been patented too
  2. Notebook mountable computer system
  3. Projection display system for a laptop computer or a notebook computer
  4. Hands-free, user-supported portable computer
  5. Pivot and swivel mechanism for laptop display
  6. Ergonomic laptop computer having display positioning supports
  7. Laptop computer with integrated telephone
  8. Folding computer
  9. Multipurpose, folding, portable computer
  10. Notebook computer with ergonomic stand
  11. Laptop computer with ergonomically enhanced interface features