John Ellenby, Laptop Pioneer, Dies at 75

John Ellenby’s Compass played a pivotal role in the modern computing world of the 1980s.

A pioneer in Silicon Valley’s formative years, John Ellenby helped create and establish the systems that would be the models for mobile computing. He designed the iconic clamshell style for portable computers. His Grid Compass was the first laptop in space, helping with launch sequence and the astronauts lives. They were ruggedly built machines, they even survived the Challenger explosion in 1986.

Ellenby’s systems were also important on a government level. Reagan’s security advisor carried the Compass with him whenever he accompanied the President. It acted as a companion to his nuclear “football” during the Cold War’s height of unrest.

In 1989, Ellenby’s GRiD Systems released the GRiDPad, an MS-DOS based tablet computer.

His computing vision was years ahead of the curve. After leaving GRiD Systems in the late 80s, he would later go on to found GeoVector, a company that researched and developed for augmented reality technology.

He passed away on August 17, at the age of 75. His contributions have left an indelible mark on the world of computing and technology. Rest in peace, Mr. Ellenby.

from National Cancer Institute (Bill Branson – Photographer)



E is a long time blogger about a great and many things people overlook. She likes to connect the dots, fit the pieces together, and showcase the overshadowed... oh, and she likes cookies.