I designed the original LapLift in 1990 for my wife and business partner, to address the ongoing hand and finger cramps she was experiencing after using her Toshiba T3100 portable computer. The clamshell-style cases of early laptop computers were quite thick by today’s standards, and had their keyboards located right against the front edge of the case, with no place to support your wrists; this created an uncomfortable typing position, and had to be the cause of the cramping. At work over the next week, watching as my wife typed, I could clearly see the problem, and envisioned a support cradle which not only provided the missing wrist rest, but also tilt the computer slightly forward to create a more natural typing angle. So I took some measurements, went next door to our fabrication shop for a couple of hours, made the first version from ¼” plexiglas, and placed the new support under the Toshiba 3100. Almost immediately and quite obviously, my wife’s posture straightened, her shoulders, neck, and hands relaxed, and she let out a sigh of relief. The LapLift was born.
I wrote and submitted the patent application in 1991, and LapLift was granted (UTILITY) Patent #5209452 in April of 1993. While in patent pending staus, we negotiated an OEM contract with The Laptop Superstore, and setup a small manufacturing line to produce several thousand units. We were in licensing talks with a major office accessory company, but the deal fell through when they were able to circumvent the patent, and bring a similar product to market. In late 1991, Apple’s Powerbook 100 introduced a revolutionary new laptop case design, wherein the keyboard was moved back, and a wrist support area was built in front. Over the next few years, this would become the defacto laptop configuration, reducing the need for a wrist rest accessory, and this largely obsoleting the LapLift.
However, as it turns out, the LapLift also made operating the trackballs or touchpads many manufacturers had incorporated into their wrist rests considerably more comfortable. And so, Doug Mockett & Company decided to take a chance on the product, and we arranged a licensing deal. But alas, the market was no longer interested, and the LapLift has been out of production for many years. It was a great little product which went the way of the buggy whip.