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Retro-style ThinkPad might resurrect the seven-row keyboard, blue enter key, and more

There’s no brand in the PC world like ThinkPad. Originally introduced in 1992, it has been in continual production ever since. Two of the brand’s key notebooks – the T-series and X-series – take the crown as the oldest systems in continual production. Each has been updated year after year since their debut in 2000.

Such history means the brand has hardcore fans, many of whom disagree with some recent design decisions. Like all notebook manufacturers, Lenovo has worked hard to make ThinkPads thinner, lighter and more refined. Display form factor has changed from 4:3, to 16:10, to 16:9, the keyboard has lost a row, and some features have been retired.

For the most part, these changes were necessary, but Lenovo hasn’t forgotten its fans. David Hill, the company’s Vice President of Corporate Identity & Design, has teased a new nostalgia-filled notebook on its official blog. The system hits the rewind button and re-introduces a number of features from days past. These include a 16:10 display form factor, a seventh row of keys for additional function buttons, a latch that keeps the display closed in any situation, and two ThinkLights – small LEDs in the top of the screen that act like miniature desk lamps.

The system also feeds on nostalgia with a few aesthetic touches, such as a blue Enter key, a multi-color ThinkPad brand logo, and classic T-Series label styling.

Of course, it’s not all old-school, and otherwise the design is up to date with modern systems. It offers narrow display bezels, and will be just 15mm thick. Lenovo didn’t say what would power the system, put presumably it includes the latest Intel Core hardware. There also doesn’t appear to be an optical drive, and connectivity wasn’t detailed, but is unlikely to match the concept’s thicker predecessors.

This is just a concept, so there’s no guarantee it’ll come to light. Mr. Hill’s post seems to be an attempt to gauge public reaction and gather feedback from the company’s fan-base. The posts ends with caution, reminding fans that “bringing a retro inspired ThinkPad to market would require significant sales volume to justify the development” and that, for now, it remains a dream.

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