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The Toshiba T100, the company's first laptop computer, shipped in 1982 with an LCD screen of 80x25 text resolution: http://oldcomputers.net/toshiba-t100.html

Was this the first computer ever to have an LCD screen as opposed to line display, i.e. capable of displaying more than one line of text? It is the first one I have been able to find (though there are several earlier examples of LCD line displays, of course, depending on where you draw the distinction between a computer and a calculator).

Edit: As Raffzahn observed, I misread that page. 80x25 is only if you connect the machine to a CRT monitor; the LCD is considerably smaller.

Okay then, to clarify the question and for the sake of definiteness, let's say: what was the first computer ever to have an LCD screen capable of at least 40x25 text? That being the typical minimum standard for microcomputers around that time.

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    'More than one line' or ' lines similar to a terminal'? Also, 'Line of any length' or 'Line of at least 80 characters'? The T100 Displaywas only 8 lines of 40 characters. – Raffzahn Dec 7 '17 at 17:33
  • @Raffzahn Good catch! I'll edit the question. – rwallace Dec 7 '17 at 17:42
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    Well, that edit misses the techoloical development. Before making something 40x25 when doung an LCS, 80x12 is much more desirable, as it needs roughly the same display technology (quality), but can display 'whole' lines. 40x25 makes again only sense on a CRT. – Raffzahn Dec 7 '17 at 17:56
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    @Raffzahn Well, line length is usually only a hard thing for programming. If you're writing natural language text, it can as easily wrap at 40 cols, then rewrap later at 80 after upload. – rwallace Dec 7 '17 at 18:43
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    @guest, a line display is a type of LCD, and a fairly common one on electronic typewriters. – Mark Dec 8 '17 at 22:00
24

As the question is unclear about what is to be considered a laptop and what screen size is sufficient, we will have multiple possible winners:

(I will only include mass-market machines, as special solutions like terminals had LCD in various sizes quite a long time before)

  • One-line portable computers have been around since the Sharp PC-1210 with its 24x1 character display in 1980 (ignoring all earlier pocket calculators like the HP41 with its alphanumeric display from 1979).

  • Sharp's PC-1500 in 1981 not only extended that to 26x1 characters, but offered, as a first, 156x7 bitmap graphics.

  • The mentioned Toshiba T100 in 1982 wasn't exactly a portable, as it still required the user to schlepp several components and needed a desk. Also, the display was restricted to 40x8 characters.

  • The same year Epson introduced the HX-20 with its 20x4 display (120x32), eventually the first of the Letter Sized Computers.

  • 1982/1983 was also the years(s) that brought us all the Kyotronic 85 machines (Kyotronic 85, NEC 8201, Olivetti M10, Tandy M100) with their 40x8 (240x64) displays.

  • In fact, 1983 brought a real flood of similar machines, starting with the Casio FP-200 with a 20x8 display (120x32).

  • In the Spring of 1983 the Gavilan SC featured a 400x64 pixel LCD which may barely qualify as a 80x8 (or even 10) text display.

  • Sharp's PC-5000 introduced shortly after the Galivan had a full 80x8 display, capable of 640x80 B&W graphics.

  • In 1984, Zenith took the next step in size with 16 lines on the Z-150 (80x16).

  • Although not really a mass-market machine, the Data General DG-1 released in 1985 might qualify with its large screen with CRT-like ratio and dimensions and 80x25 characters (640x200) as the prime answer to the above question.

  • The Apricot Portable did reach most definitely a wider audience in 1985, offering a 80x25 (640x200) display. But unlike the DG-1 it was rather slim, unlike a CRT, much like the PC-5000. Then again, while being sleak, transportable and called 'portable', naming it a laptop it would still be a stretch.

  • Bondwell introduced its Bondwell-2 CP/M machine featuring a 80x25 (640x200) display using the same Hitachi screen as the Apricot Portable.

  • Toshiba added the T1000 with, again, a very similar form factor as the Sharp PC-5000 but a 80x25 characters or 640x200 pixels in 1987.

  • An honourable mention should go to the Cambridge Z88 with its rather high quality 80x8 (640x64) display from 1988.

Now, if we also consider other display technologies in, the Grid Compass series from 1982 with a 320x240 electroluminescent display would be another good bet.

The rest is history, so pick your favourite winner :)

  • @StephenKitt I think that was most likely an edit conflict — you were both editing at the same time, and so Raffzahn’s edit overwrote yours. – NobodyNada - Reinstate Monica Dec 7 '17 at 18:17
  • Don't forget the Apple //c, which is fairly late in your list (April 1984) but could be bought with a full 80x24 display. – Coxy Dec 8 '17 at 0:14
  • @Coxy Well, yeah, and there is the C64 LCD. But both don't change a rather stationary computer in a laptop. While one may argue a lot about what qualifies as a laptop, I think an all in one design and operations without mains are basics. Don't you agree? A IIc with a battery solution like Cari (sp?) and said LCD was an even bigger mess than a TI99/4 :)) – Raffzahn Dec 8 '17 at 0:56
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    It was 1982, I was 13 years old and I was on vacation at a campsite at the seaside. A friend of mine told me: "I have a 20 year old friend who has a portable computer, he can teach us programming!". So one day we met at the campsite bar, to hear what could be done with such a thing. At the end, the guy printed the listing of a program, which I would study until I could get my first computer a few months later. The guy's computer was certainly one of your list, and now I'm struggling to recall which one it was :-) – Massimo Ortolano Dec 8 '17 at 11:46
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    That Kyotronic and its derivatives was the first of this type that I saw extensively used in the real world. They were loved by reporters and people who had to upload data -- the acoustic coupler modem worked with pay phones, for example, to file stories from the courthouse. – user8356 Dec 14 '17 at 14:47

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