November 10, 2010

First Laptop Designer Wins Edinburgh Prize

British designer Bill Moggridge, creator of the world's first laptop, has been given a lifetime achievement award by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Moggridge, who created the Grid Compass computer in the early 80s - widely credited as the fore-runner for the modern laptop - has been named the winner of the 2010 Prince Philip Designers Prize.

He was chosen from a list of prominent nominees, including fashion designer Dame Viviene Westwood.

The panel that picked Moggridge said he had been central to how design helped people understand and use technology.

The Grid Compass computer went on sale in 1982 for more than $8,000. It had its own operating system -- Grid-OS -- and was limited to special applications, with the US government being a main buyer.

The computer was used on the Space Shuttle in the 1980s, offering astronauts a navigational system when they were out of reach of Earth-bound navigational tools.

Moggridge said he was "astonished" to be chosen for the award. "I'm really amazed. The other nominees are such super-heroes of mine and have incredible bodies of work," he told BBC News.

Moggridge also co-founded design company IDEO in 1991 and is currently the director of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

The Prince Philip Designers Prize is awarded annually to recognize a lifetime contribution to design. It is Britain's longest-running design award and was set up by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1959 to encourage free enterprise.


Image Caption: Astronaut John Creighton posing with a Grid Compass aboard a Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 1985. It displays Mr. Spock of Star Trek. Credit: NASA