I just saw an item at Thurrot.com that gave me a bit of a nostalgic twinge. Thurrot’s story is entitled Toshiba Exits the PC Business. I’d already known that Toshiba was backing out of this market for some time, having sold of much of its PC arm to Sharp two years ago. But Thurrot’s story reports that the rest of the PC division, including the Tecra, Satellite and Portege laptop lines, was sold off on June 30, 2020. It’s the end of an era, with another big Japanese electronics company exiting the PC business (as Sony itself did in 2014). Why do I care? Let me explain…
The item in the middle is the Toshiba T110+ portable PC, which I carried for Excelan in 1988 and 1989
[Click Image for Full-sized view.]
Phase 1: First Real Road Job 1988-89
My first real road job in the computing biz was working as a networking consultant for Milpitas, CA-based Excelan. I actually worked out of my house when I wasn’t on the road. Because the job I did required running a hardware-based Ethernet protocol analyzer, the company issued me two laptops. The Toshiba was my light-duty machine, meant for general computing and handling e-mail and reporting on the road. At between 4-5 lb (1.8-2.3 kg) it wasn’t that heavy and would fit in a briefcase along with the other stuff I carried on business travel.
The second PC was a brute of a machine for its time: a fully tricked-out 25-lb Compaq Portable II with an orange plasma display that looked and lugged like a sewing machine. Over that two-year period I came to appreciate the Toshiba laptop, and learned to work pretty well with its limitations and capabilities (it housed an 80C88 processor and 1 or 2 MB of RAM). [Photo comes from this great PC World Australia story Gallery: 25 Years of Toshiba Laptops.]
This Qosmio was big and heavy but could do its job as a “portable Media Center PC” pretty darn well.
Phase 2: The Tom’s Hardware Years: 1999-2009
I started writing for Munich-based Tom’s in the late 1990s, translating articles from German into English. Gradually, my remit changed to writing articles and reviews for them. During that period I did dozens of laptop reviews, including a Qosmio G25 (a now long-defunct premium line of media-oriented Toshiba laptops). I can’t find that review online directly so let me try the Wayback machine for that 2005 item — that doesn’t work either. Here’s a capsule summary I did for the Holiday Buyer’s Guide for 2005.
The G25 was a what I called a “beautiful monster” of a laptop, weighing in a t 9.5 lbs (4.3 kg) and pretty big dimensions of 16×11.5×1.9″ (40.6×29.2×4.8cm). For some odd reason, Toshiba never asked for it back so I kept it until 2008 or 2009, at which point I passed it onto a friend and business colleague. Weight and bulk aside, I enjoyed working with that machine, and got pretty adept at tinkering with its drivers and hardware.
Over the years, I’ve had the chance to use, play with, and benchmark several Toshiba laptops. I always found them to be good-looking, capable, and fun to use. But they were always a little bit on the expensive side for me, so when I’ve spent my own money buying laptops, they’ve mostly been from HP (one), Dell (3 or 4), Lenovo (I’m up to 7 now), or Microsoft (one). All that said, I’m still sorry to see them leave the market: I think they helped bring (and keep) up the quality of the laptop/notebook hardware game. Auf Wiedersehen, then, Toshiba!
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.