Steve Jobs unveiled the MacBook "Air" yesterday, Apple's ultra-thin and light notebook computer that looks like something you'd put into an interoffice envelope. That is, if it didn't cost $1800 you might. But contrary to all the reports you're hearing, it's not the thinnest laptop ever, even if it is the thinnest available right now. Cast your mind back a decade, and remember the Mitsubishi Pedion.
Mitsubishi's Pedion is the first notebook computer that actually approximates the dimensions of the well-known spiral-bound paper notebook. Its footprint (its width and length) is similar to standard-sized notebooks, but the Pedion measures 18.4mm (less than three-fourths of an inch thick) and weighs less than three pounds, far less than current notebooks. When closed, it could pass for an airline tray table.
But the form factor comes at a high price. The Pedion will cost $6,000.
While thinner, the computer packs features one might see on a standard high-end notebooks. The Pedion comes with a Pentium MMX chip running at 233 MHz, a 12.1-inch screen, a standard-sized notebook keyboard, 64MB of RAM, and a 1.0GB hard drive.
Mitsubishi developed the Pedion in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard, which will likely release its own ultrathin notebook sometime later next year, executives at that company have said.
In a weird way, the $6000 for the Pedion seems cheap compared to the Apple MacBook Air's $1800, as the technology to achieve it in 1997 was cutting edge. And they did plan to offer one with a 200MHz Intel chip for a measly $4900. The Pedion was developed jointly by Mitsubishi and Hewlett-Packard, but it was withdrawn shortly after it was first offered. I guess no one would wanted such a thing --until a guy with a perpetual three-day beard held one up. Perhaps it's because Jobs was smart enough not to name his "Pedion," something that sounds vaguely like only a child molester might want one.