R.I.P. Bill Moggridge: Remembering a British Computer Design Pioneer

Bill Moggridge (1943-2012) (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum/AP Images)

The next time you open your laptop computer, pause for a moment to remember British industrial designer Bill Moggridge.

He designed and patented the prototype for the first laptop computer with a clamshell case, the Grid Compass, way back on 1980.

Moggridge, who was born and educated in London, died last Saturday, Sept. 8, in San Francisco at age 69.

That first Compass cost $8,000 and was used by the military and aboard the Space Shuttle beginning in 1983.

In a tribute to Moggridge in the New York Times, Tim Brown, the president and C.E.O. of IDEO, the successful and groundbreaking product design firm that Moggridge helped found in Silicon Valley, said, “More than anything, Bill brought humanity to design. He was curious and playful, inquisitive about people and always ready to break out into a funny song to ensure no one took themselves too seriously.”

Moggridge, who moved to California from the U.K. in 1969, had most recently been the director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, which is part of the Smithsonian. There’s a memorial to Moggridge on the Cooper-Hewitt’s web site, along with a video tribute: